Renowned US Christian evangelist Billy Graham, who preached to millions of people across the world in a career spanning more than 60 years, passed away at his home in Montreat, North Carolina, 7:46 a.m. (6:16 pm IST) on Wednesday, February 21. He also suffered from hydrocephaly, or water on the brain, and prostate cancer.
"Karen and I were saddened to learn of the passing of one of the greatest Americans of the 20th century, Reverend Billy Graham".
He had extraordinary access to the White House over the years and served as spiritual adviser to many of presidents in their hour of need from Harry Truman to Barack Obama and even met Donald Trump before his presidential run. A very special man.
Graham was the son of a dairy farmer in North Carolina.
A 1977 trip to communist-led Hungary opened doors for Graham to conduct preaching missions in virtually every country of the former Eastern Bloc (including the Soviet Union), as well as China and North Korea. He said, "Christianity is not a white man's religion, and don't let anybody ever tell you that it's white or black". And he was a tremendously successful businessman, building the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association based in Charlotte, N.C., which had assets of $394 million at the end of 2016.
Evangelist Billy Graham, left, helps President-elect Richard Nixon with his overcoat after they attended services at 5th Avenue Presbyterian Church, in NY, on January 5, 1969. When Christ hung, and bled, and died, it was God saying to the world, 'I love you'.
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Billy Graham was known affectionately known as America's pastor, and his religious teachings were often called upon by several of America's presidents.
His family were Christians but he made a personal commitment at the age of 15 through the ministry of Mordecai Ham, a travelling evangelist who had visited Charlotte for a series of revival meetings. "He paved the way for young ministers like myself", Osteen said.
President John F. Kennedy talks with evangelist Billy Graham at the annual "Presidential Prayer Breakfast" in a Washington hotel, February 9, 1961.
He wrote about three dozen books.
Billy Graham with President George W. Bush.
Its work that will continue long after Graham is laid to rest beside his wife, Ruth, in the memorial garden at the foot of a huge brick cross. "They may not know the name of Jesus but they know in their hearts that they need something they do not have, and they turn to the only light they have, and I think that they are saved and they are going to be with us in heaven"'.