Tonight I watched the final public message of Evangelist Billy Graham. It was powerful and profound in its simplicity, weaving film clips of his 60+ years of global ministry with contemporary testimonies and his current call to follow Christ.
Tears are flowing as I write this tribute. Tears of joy for the message of the Cross that once again comes alive: Jesus Christ died for our sins, sorrows and sufferings, reconciling us to God. His borrowed tomb is empty, for Christ is the Risen Lord, triumphant over death and now alive in every believer’s heart through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Tears of sadness as Billy Graham’s voice fades from public hearing. Resonant, direct, kind, compelling, warm and prophetic – it is a voice that over two billion people have heard, with millions responding and following Christ. There will never be another like it.
Tears of intercession as I weep in internal exile for my beloved USA. How far we have fallen from the faith, hope and love that our founders and framers bequeathed to us! How far we have fallen from the stirring oratory of Martin Luther King as he offered a vision of “all God’s children” coming together and living in mutual love and respect based on the content of their character instead of the color of their skin.
Tears of gratitude are flowing as well, for I believe that our next Awakening will not be in stadiums or focus on a handful of personalities. Our next revival will be in millions of homes and businesses, charities and schools, conversations and service opportunities as Christians share this same gospel message in deed and word with their neighbors.
Thank you, Billy Graham. Thank you for your integrity of life and intensity of love. Thank you for being faithful to Christ and your family. Thank you for serving countless leaders in public and private. Thank you for learning from your missteps and growing in wisdom as you kept reaching new cultures and generations with the Good News. Thank you for reminding us that there is room at the foot of the Cross and around the throne of God for all people, no matter what their background or sins.
Thank you, Billy Graham, for standing with people of all faiths during times of tragedy and triumph, yet never wavering in your conviction concerning the claims of Christ. Thank you for being a model of leadership, setting the highest standards of ethics for ministry. Thank you for loving excellent communications and education, investing your time in media and seminaries, colleges and conferences, footing the bills so millions can be equipped to serve. Thank you for the Lausanne Movement, connecting Christians around the world for the tasks of evangelization and transformation.
Thank you for unifying Christians through your events and conferences, conversations and service opportunities. All streams of the global Christianity owe you a great debt for your selfless efforts. Thank you for all your efforts toward racial justice, for integrating your services at the cost of friendships. Thank you for your moral absolutes and cultural sensitivities. You knew the difference between God’s commands and the unnecessary legalisms of the religious. Yes, George Beverly Shea always sang and a choir worshipped at your meetings, but your message was fresh, your guests were relevant and your use of media stellar.
And thank you, my Lord and Savior, for tears that soften my heart, cleanse my soul and water the seeds of prayers.
Thank you, Billy Graham, for a life well-lived.