12 Facts You Didn’t Know About Billy Graham – Pastor to the Presidents
Billy Graham, America’s Pastor, has passed away at the age of 99. Speaking about his death, Graham once said “Someday you will read or hear that Billy Graham is dead. Don’t you 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.” Those words certainly have new meaning as we reflect on his legacy and present 20 things you may not know about Billy Graham.
Westboro Baptist Church
Like many before him, Graham was once the in the crosshairs of the infamous Westboro Baptist church. As laughable as it may seem, the group distributed pamphlets about calling Graham a “hell-bound false prophet who preaches sugary lies and smooth vanities.” Unfortunately, this hate group has taken to twitter and announced that they will be picketing Graham’s funeral.
Queen Elizabeth II
During Graham’s 12 weeks of crusades in London, he helped lead over 2 million people to the Lord. Queen Elizabeth II, who claims to be a Christian herself, was highly interested in what Graham was doing and requested a meeting with Graham. Graham clearly enjoyed his time with her and later wrote in his autobiography: “I can say that I judge her to be a woman of rare modesty and character.”
With over 7 decades in the public eye, there are bound to be a few moments where one might say something that they regret. This time, behind closed doors at the Oval office with Nixon, Graham made less than favourable comments about Jewish people in America. Graham apologized for these remarks when the tapes were made public.
He Preached for 100 nights in a row!
Imagine working for 7 days a week with no weekend? Now imagine working for 100 nights in a row! That’s what Billy Graham did. Having grown up during the depression era, Graham developed a very intense work ethic which was of course helped and guided by the Holy Spirit.
Presidential Medal of Freedom
In 1983, President Reagan awarded Graham with the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his “exceptional contributions to the United States on behalf of world peace.” Graham later recalled in his autobiography “…the highest civilian honor our government gives to an American, for service to the nation. I felt unworthy of the honor, and still do. But whatever else it means, it will always remind me of the generosity and friendship of a remarkable man and a warm and enduring personal friend, Ronald Wilson Reagan.”
Martin Luther King Jr.
Graham was known for speaking against the racial divide and often warned crowds of white christians about their pride and the dangers of hell. He invited Rev. King to pray at his events and they later became good friends. King even let Graham call him “Mike” which was a nickname only used by King’s closest of friends. Graham was very saddened upon the news of his friend’s assassination.
He preached in front of over 1 million people at one time.
After hearing a few words of one of Graham’s simplistic messages, it’s not hard to understand why thousands would want to line up to hear the Good news. However, did you know that more than one million people once attended one of his crusades in Yoido Plaza in Seoul, South Korea?
Billy Graham has met with 13 post-war presidents
People often referred to Graham as the Pastor to the Presidents. This was because he interacted and counselled everyone from Harry Truman to our current president Trump. After the watergate scandal involving Nixon, Graham stepped away from his heavier involvement with Politics and continued to focus on his events and Crusades.
He helped George W. Bush stop drinking.
Former President George W. Bush was a bit of a mess in his earlier years. In fact, the first time that Bush met Graham, he was drunk. They spoke the next day and Graham preached the Gospel and sent him a bible. Bush later credits Graham for being a catalyst in changing his life.
This may surprise many because of his conservative Christian views, but Billy Graham was actually at one point a registered member of the Democratic Party. He opposed Kennedy because of his Catholicism and later shifted his politics to the republic party and fully supported Nixon. That being said, Graham was always a firm believer that Politics came second to the Gospel.
He preached to over 215 million people in his lifetime!
Yes, you read that correctly. Over 215 million live audience members in over 185 different countries experienced Graham’s preaching over the years of his ministry. That’s almost two thirds of the entire United states of America! Keep in mind that most of this exposure was before social media and the internet!
He was not around for the Birth of his first child
Unfortunately, like many people who travel for any kind of entertainment or speaking engagements, there is a sacrifice being made to your home and family life. Graham was not present for the birth of his first child. He credits his wife in his autobiography stating: ““What I missed and what Ruth missed by not having me to help her. Whenever I did get home, I got a crash course in the agony and ecstasy of parenting. If Ruth had not been convinced that God had called her to fulfill that side of our partnership and had not resorted constantly to God’s Word for instruction and to His grace for strength, I don’t see how she could have survived.”