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Even in death, Billy Graham is alive

“Someday you will read or hear that Billy Graham is dead. Don’t believe a word of it. I shall be more alive than I am now. I will just have changed my address. I will have gone into the presence of God.”

Billy Graham uttered those profound words decades ago. Last week he lived them.

I grew up in a household where if Rev. Graham was preaching to the masses, domestic or abroad, and if his words were broadcast over the airwaves, then we had our old black-and-white TV set tuned in at home.

My now late mother and father never missed an opportunity to hear Rev. Graham share the word of God on TV. I still vividly remember sitting on the floor in our living room and listen a young Billy Graham deliver powerful messages in his equally powerful voice.

He had this unique gift, making it sound like he was speaking directly to you, even though he was surrounded by tens of thousands of people in attendance at his live events as well as the tens of millions hanging on his every word from the comfort of their homes.

Then, as he issued a call for repentance – the alter call – thousands would rise from their seats and make their way towards the sound of his voice as the old-time hymn “Just As I Am” played softly in the background.

It’s not ironic that Graham’s best-selling autobiography, released in 1997, carries the same title as that hymn.

It’s not ironic that when Rev. Graham arrived in the presence of his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, there were millions of Christians standing there as well. Each one will testify that their lives were forever changed on the night they answered Billy Graham’s alter call.

Since his passing at the age of 99 late last week, I’ve read a great number of tributes to Rev. Graham. Perhaps one of the more interesting stories came from a woman, posting the following message on Facebook:

“RIP Mr. Graham. It was in front of the tv, during one of your crusades, that as a 16 yr old ready to commit suicide that I found my savior. I became a different person and never looked back.”

And he is to be praised for his strong stance against racial segregation prior to the Civil Rights movement. He has also provided spiritual counsel to a long line of U.S. Presidents, from Harry Truman to Barack Obama.

In the Bible (John 14; verses 2 and 3), Jesus said, “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.”

Without a doubt, Billy Graham is still very alive, in heaven within one of those mansions, as well as still living inside our hearts.

And when he entered the Pearly Gates, St. Peter not only welcomed him with open arms, but also sang: “Just as I am – without one plea, but that Thy blood was shed for me, and that Thou bidst me come to Thee, O Lamb of God, I come!”

Rest in peace Rev. Graham. Thank you for all you have accomplished in the flesh here on Earth. \

“Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.” (Matthew 25:23)

 

Cal Bryant is the Editor of Roanoke-Chowan Publications. Contact him at cal.bryant@r-cnews.com or 252-332-7207.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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