As time rolls through unseen days, the hour of Billy Graham’s retire for heavenly abode early morning on 21st Feb., 2018, greets the world with unusually felt one. Regards of love poured in like continuous droplets as the world’s beloved evangelist laid to rest at his mountain home in Montreat North Carolina USA. Christian leaders call him ‘the faithful’, earning much admiration from millions for his noble public life. Indeed he was priced forhis yield into the gospel. President Donald Trump tweeted: There was nobody like him! He will be missed by Christians and all religions- a very special man.
Queen Elizabeth II describes him as the crown, and the list runs with many great personalities and Medias telling how much they found solace in Billy’s matchless voice. This certainly makes his sketch personal. Who is this man talking anyway, deserves mention in time when his life is revered for serving humanity so faithfully. Reports on his death contains of course, the physical ailments running up till the last breathe; similar to the last days of his wife Ruth, a decade back. Hence it confirmed a natural cause of death. Perhaps one would like dying in life’s natural worth than otherwise cost life by moral decay. A media network in USA by the Citizen Time shows that Billy Graham’s death was a tribute to his wife Ruth. The language comes complete in Billy Graham’s loving credit to his wife for the ministry’sgreat success,without whose role it squared impossible.
This write up is humbly aware of the ‘great injustice’ to Billy Graham and his numerous credits; however, it is a simple act to appreciate his life’s contributions, accessed from his biographies and literature, which has personal attribution too.
The minister grew up inthe upheavals of a farm boy. He would rise up early at 4 am to milk his father’s cow, regularly with other chores and cattle.
His father Frank Graham livedwith characters of integrity and prudence which makes the children recall the family overcoming hard times, besides managing the farm’s economy judiciously. The story of the Grahams’ farm-hoodlife had left great impact not only in America but wide around the world. Facing dropped-out challenges from school, temperately due to his poor lessons, young Billy looked for other interest than a diploma in school. He initially liked career of a baseball player. And after managing to shake hands with baseball legend Babe Ruth (arranged by his father Graham), Billy didn’t wash his hands for days.
Heroes enthralled him at an early age. He picked up reading as much as possible that his younger brother Melvin, a farmer, said he had read books more than anyone elseI knew. Billy liked the Tarzan comic in his collections of other books on history, civil war, and world affairs, including Gibbon’s classic ‘The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire’. His mother Morrow would fetch used books that might serve him interest. He was hardly fourteen then. Sometimes he would jump down from the trees and yelled to people and horses like Tarzan. His father quaintly said that yell made him a preacher.
At 16, Billymadeup his mind to fight for a worthy cause. He converted into a Southern Baptist missionaryafter listening to a street evangelist at his home town in 1934. Still Billy went to meet another failure in the Bible College, where he rolled down the campus lawn in agony, calling out Lord now yougot me, take me and do what you want to, I am ready. He got enrolled intoanother College at Wheaton, and one day heard a fellow student in her graduating speech challengingit was time for another revival like those days of Wesley, Finney or Moody, which made Graham felt why shouldn’t I be that person. He met the person in the same College where Graham also graduated with to share his dream oflife and together lived for 64 years of happy marriage – Ruth Graham. Never did Ruth think of becoming a missionary, let alone be married, possibly due to her early days witnessing horrible tortures of the missionaries. Born in China to a medical missionary, Dr. Nelson Bell, Ruth spent some years of school in North Korea. She recalled how the nights were spent listening to gun shots and fights throughout her 17 years in China and around. Missionaries there were called foreign devils and were often met with deaths. Apparently infright of bad days andher love for mission, she whispered a prayer to die a martyr for the Lord, which invoked her elder sister ‘repudiated’ at the sametime, Lord please don’t take her words seriously. The Grahams, in their sweat of brow, had then led marvelous missions of saving lost souls, beyond China to the farstretch of the world. Their work engages along with the gospel, in much desire of Ruth, helps people stricken in needy and poverty.
Billy Graham, in order to finance his education had worked as door-to-door Fuller Brush salesman during college. Ruth’s notice on Billy happened in college when she heard him prayed next door and shefelt that he seemed talking to someone whom he knows was talking with. They got married in 1943.
Billy would be fully engaged in preaching and was therefore hardlytogether with the family. Ruth stood firmly with her task at home and ensured the role to not let her husband lack any support from the family while working outside for the gospel. She raised five kids all by herself. The children are now all devoted in the ministry. Billy mentioned the hard times staying apart from the family, and once said – saying goodbye to Ruth have become allusual, and following the brief vacationsat home from hectic ministry, he recalled driving out the driveway with tears rolling down the cheek as he didn’t want to leave. Billy truly had lived a testimony he wanted to be, in sheer obedience to his call. In his emphatic expression to God he once said not wanting to be a great preacher but a soul winner, which kept a record that liveson Graham so high.
The couple were both given the Congressional Awards by the US Congress in 1966, and in 1983, received America’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom. It’ll be helpful taking some words by Billy Graham– “… Societal transformation is always the result of personal transformation through the Holy Spirit and that change always happens from the inside out. The basic problem of all societal problems lies mainly in sin, which leads to lovelessness and selfish behaviour… when wealth is lost, nothing is lost, when health is lost, it lose something, but when character is lost, everything is lost….when it comes to spiritual things, my wife has had the greatest influence on my ministry, Billy said”. Ruth herself was a gifted poet and writer. She was often noticed by her husband reading scriptures keenly and teaching them out to the children and prayed together.
Their children remarked: Mother’s room always lighted late at night and then she would rise early – Daddy, although the world acclaimed him and sought his advice would be seen regularly on knees praying to the Lord for guidance.
They established Billy Graham Evangelistic Association in 1950, and Billy Graham is today listed among the ten most admired people in the world. The Association puts nearly 215 million people as his lifetime audiences, spanning over six decades of ministry in more than 185 countries and areas. He would be invited and consulted by many Presidents of the United States, and would let him lead the nation invoking moral conscience.
George W. Bush confessed that it was through him that he quit drinking. Billy Graham said that amongst the Presidents whom he had personally worked with, it was Jimmy Carter who matched up effectively for the cause of the gospel. Billy’s words remains – “My greatest comfort comes from knowing that I belong to Christ, and that no matter what happens, he will never leave me or forsake me. He will be with me as long as I’m on this earth, and someday I will go to be with him in heaven forever. My home is in heaven, I am just traveling through this world, and I look forward to that day of going home”, he once told the Minneapolis Tribune. Billy Graham indeed is gone. He leaves behind his story to be told by believers on his footsteps, lest it be overstated and become like any other story. Nevertheless, no mankind given its fallibility would have lived in disposition of giving so much selflessly, unless so by the Master’s hand. There’s life visiting Billy Graham’s account.