Religious leaders are taking to social media to remember famed Christian evangelist Rev. Billy Graham, who died Wednesday at the age of 99.
Some praised Graham – who preached to more than 200 million people in his lifetime – online, calling him “the most important evangelist since the Apostle Paul” and “one of the most faithful followers of Jesus.” Others recalled the impact he had on their faith or the faiths of loved ones.
Here’s a look at how Graham is being remembered.
Franklin Graham, the late reverend’s son, recalled something his father once said about Heaven.
“My father … was once asked, ‘Where is Heaven?’ He said, ‘Heaven is where Jesus is and I am going to Him soon!’ This morning, he departed this world into eternal life in Heaven, prepared by the Lord Jesus Christ — the Savior of the world — whom he proclaimed for 80 years,” Franklin Graham said.
Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, part of the Southern Baptist Convention, said it’s almost “impossible” to count the number of people he knows who have become Christians through Graham’s work.
In an interview with Fox News, Moore praised the authenticity of Graham, saying he was someone who was the same in both his public and private life.
“My earliest memories are watching him preach on television as a very small child. I remember being struck as a child with the gravity with which he took the Gospel. That continued with me for the rest of my life,” Moore said. “When I met Dr. Graham, that same sense of weightiness of the Gospel was evident in him personally – just as it was in public.”
“The death of Billy Graham is a time for all of us to reflect on the hope that he preached – forgiveness of sins and peace with God through Jesus Christ.”
Moore added that Graham was “successful” because his work wasn’t all about himself, comparing him to the John the Baptist.
“I think the death of Billy Graham is a time for all of us to reflect on the hope that he preached – forgiveness of sins and peace with God through Jesus Christ,” Moore said. “I hope there’s a great deal of reflection, not just on what he did, but why.”
Pastor Greg Laurie went from watching Graham on his black and white television to attending one of his crusades in San Diego, California, to serving with him as a board member on the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.
“I wasn’t in any way disappointed that I got to know him. He was every much the man you would have hoped he would be,” Laurie, the pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship, a non-denominational church in New York City, told Fox News.
Laurie said Graham, who he has been friends with since the early 1990s, was a “very humble man” who enjoyed meeting and talking with new people. Graham was faithful in his message, Laurie said, which was simply: We’re all sinners, but God loves us and sent his son to die for us.
“I don’t think anyone will ever take Billy’s place. But we can all, in our own way, follow his example and proclaim the same Gospel as he did.”
“I don’t think anyone will ever take Billy’s place. But we can all, in our own way, follow his example and proclaim the same Gospel as he did,” Laurie said.
Rev. Samuel Rodriguez recalled watching Graham preaching on his black and white television when he was a young teenager. His sermons about reaching the world with the gospel inspired Rodriguez to do the same, he told Fox News.
The president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, Rodriguez praised Graham as the “quintessential unifier,” pointing, in particular, to the integration of his crusades at a time when segregation was prevalent.
“No Christian leader in modern history brought more unity to the Christian body than Billy Graham,” he said.
“He understood that every single person is created in the image of God without exception,” Rodriguez said of Graham, who he also called a “civil rights advocate.”
Additionally, Rodriguez said Graham brought together different factions of Christianity – charismatics and non-charismatics – through his preaching.
“He taught me if you teach the word, but most importantly if you live the word, if your character lines up with your rhetoric, then God will convict the hearts of mankind,” said Rodriguez.
Anne Graham Lotz
When evangelist Anne Graham Lotz thinks of the late preacher, she doesn’t necessarily think of the public figure – but her father, she said in a statement.
“But when I think of him I also think of his message because he was immersed in it. Saturated in it. He was his message…a simple man who had responded to God’s love by placing his faith in Jesus, receiving the assurance that his sins were forgiven, that he would not perish, but would have everlasting life,” Lotz, an author, said. “Simple faith. Faith that matters more than anything else.”
Lotz recalled that she’s said she was raised by a single parent, as Graham was often away for his ministry.
“Now, he has left again. This time, he will not be coming back. At least, not until Jesus does, too,” Lotz said. “While he may be physically absent and his voice silent, I am confident that his message will continue to reverberate throughout the generations to come.”
She said she hopes her father’s death will be a “rallying cry” for others to “rise up to take his place.”
Author of the bestseller “Case for Christ,” Lee Strobel tweeted a simple message following Graham’s death.
“A life of sharing the Good News with the world. Well done, good and faithful servant!” he wrote.
Author and evangelist Beth Moore also took to Twitter to remember Graham.
“There simply will never be another Billy Graham,” she posted. “What a gift of God to this world.”
Steven Furtick, pastor of Elevation Church in the Charlotte area, paid tribute to Graham.
“You showed us how to leave the 99 for the 1. Thank you, Dr. Graham,” Furtick tweeted.
His social media post referenced the Biblical parable about a shepherd who leaves his flock of 99 safe sheep to look for the one that wandered off.
Founding pastor of Gateway Church, a megachurch in the Dallas area, Robert Morris said he was praying for Graham’s family.
“Rev. Billy Graham was one of the most faithful followers of Jesus. He made a huge impact in my life, and even led my wife, Debbie, to the Lord,” Morris said on Twitter. “This world will miss him, but we celebrate that he is now with the One he loved so much.”
Thom Rainer, the president of LifeWay Christian Resources, remembered one of his last conversations with Graham.
“Last time I was with Billy Graham, he said he missed his wife, Ruth, and he missed heaven. Now he is present for the great reunion,” Rainer said. “May we remember his legacy and may we follow his passion for evangelism.”
Ruth Graham, his wife of more than 60 years, died in 2007.
Evangelist and author Joel Osteen shared photos of himself with Graham with his Twitter followers, calling the late religious leader a “hero in our home.”
“Next to my own father, Reverend Graham was the most humble and gracious man I ever knew. I am honored to call him a friend and mentor,” Osteen said.
Author and financial counselor Dave Ramsey remembered Graham as “possibly the greatest man of the last 100 years.”
“The world is darker today as Billy Graham goes home,” Ramsey said. “Thousands of souls applauding in Heaven as he walks in and hears: ‘Well done good and faithful servant.’”
Liberty University President Jerry Falwell expressed his prayers for Graham’s family on social media.
“The Christian faith has lost its greatest orator of the last century who gave hope to billions that, even [though] we are all sinners, there is hope & eternal life thru faith in Jesus Christ,” Falwell said.
Pastor David Platt shared one of Graham’s famous quotes on social media.
“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.”
At the conclusion of Graham’s sermons during his crusades, he would often end with the hymn, “Just As I Am” – also the title of his autobiography.
Renowned author Pastor John Piper shared some of the lyrics from the 1835 song on social media.
Pastor Tony Evans honored Graham with a social media post, calling him “one of the greatest evangelists of all time.”
“Welcome home, my friend,” he said.
President of the Awakening Evangelism ministry Mattie Montgomery praised Graham’s legacy on social media.
“A faithful servant entered into the joy of his master today. God, raise up more like Billy Graham, who will stay faithful and focused, who will run the race with endurance!!”
Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the archbishop of New York, said his family had “respect and admiration” for Graham, despite a difference in religious beliefs.
“There was no question that the Dolans were a Catholic family, firm in our faith, but in our household there was always respect and admiration for Billy Graham and the work he was doing to bring people to God.”
Archbishop of Canterbury
Justin Welby, the archbishop of Canterbury, said Graham was “an exemplar to generation upon generation of modern Christians.”
“When it comes to a living and lasting influence upon the worldwide church he can have few equals: for he introduced person after person to Jesus Christ,” said the archbishop, the leader of the Church of England.
“Now he is face to face with Jesus Christ, his saviour and ours. It is the meeting he has been looking forward to for the whole of his life.”
“The debt owed by the global church to him is immeasurable and inexpressible,” Welby continued. “Personally I am profoundly grateful to God for the life and ministry of this good and faithful servant of the gospel; by his example he challenged all Christians to imitate how he lived and what he did.”
“He was one who met presidents and preachers, monarchs and musicians, the poor and the rich, the young and the old, face to face. Yet now he is face to face with Jesus Christ, his saviour and ours. It is the meeting he has been looking forward to for the whole of his life.”
India: Head of ‘world’s largest family’ Ziona Chana dies – leaving behind 39 wives and 94 children | World News
A man said to be the head of the world’s largest family has died in northeastern India.
Ziona Chana had 39 wives, 94 children and 33 grandchildren – all of whom lived together in a four-storey pink house with about 100 rooms in Baktawng in Mizoram state.
The 76-year-old was the leader of a local Christian sect, named Chana, founded by his father in 1942 and with a current membership of hundreds of families.
Ziona married his first wife when he was 17 and claimed he once married 10 women in a year.
They shared a dormitory near his private bedroom and locals said he liked to have seven or eight of them by his side at all times.
The chief minister of Mizoram confirmed his death on Twitter, saying the village of Baktawng had become a “major tourist attraction” because of the family.
With a total of 167 members, the family is the world’s largest, according to local media, although this depends on whether you count Mr Chana’s grandchildren.
In a 2011 interview with Reuters, Ziona said: “I am ready to expand my family and willing to go to any extent to marry.
“I have so many people to care for and look after, and I consider myself a lucky man.”
Vladimir Putin: ‘Where is the proof’ Russia is waging a cyber war against the United States? | World News
Russian leader Vladimir Putin has denied claims his country is waging a cyber war against the United States.
In an exclusive interview with NBC News, the Russian president rebuffed accusations Russian hackers, or the government itself, is using technological warfare against America – as baseless.
He said claims his country was involved in cyber attacks had become “farcical”, asking: “Where is the evidence? Where is the proof?”
“We have been accused of all kinds of things: election interference, cyber attacks and so on and so forth. And not once, not one time did they bother to produce any kind of evidence or proof,” he said.
Evidence has been put forward by US intelligence services of Russian hackers targeting the federal government and meddling in US elections.
Mr Putin also denied ordering the poisoning of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny.
Pressed on whether he had any involvement, he said: “Look, such decisions in this country are not made by the president.”
Russian intelligence services have been accused of poisoning Mr Navalny, who survived the incident but now remains in a Russian prison.
Asked whether the former opposition leader would make it out of prison alive, Mr Putin said: “He will not be treated any worse than anybody else.”
Mr Putin’s comments come just two days before he and Joe Biden are due to sit down for talks in Geneva on Wednesday.
The US president will be fresh from his meeting with NATO leaders, who have signalled that Russia remains a security risk to Western allies.
In his interview with NBC, Mr Putin said Russia would be willing to engage with other countries including the US and would value “predictability and stability”.
The Russian president has made no secret that he supported Mr Biden’s predecessor Donald Trump, who he called “extraordinary” and “talented”.
Mr Putin and Mr Biden have had somewhat more rocky relations, with the current US president agreeing when asked whether he thought the Russian president was a killer.
When this was put to Mr Putin, he replied: “Over my tenure, I’ve gotten used to attacks from all kinds of angles. And none of it surprises me.”
Finke Desert Race crash: Spectator killed and two injured at Australian off-road event | World News
A man has died and two others have been injured after a car crashed into spectators during a race in Australia.
The car, which was taking part in the 285-mile (460km) Finke Desert Race, struck a group of people around 22 miles (35km) from the finish.
A 60-year-old man died at the scene.
A man in his 50s was seriously injured and taken to Alice Springs Hospital, while the driver, a woman in her 50s, suffered minor injuries, Northern Territory police confirmed.
Police have issued an appeal for information as they continue to investigate the circumstances.
Motorsport Australia issued a statement calling it “tragic news” and offering “sympathies to the families, friends and all those impacted”.
The governing body also said it would begin its own investigation and provide counselling to all competitors, officials and people associated with the race.
The track is described on its website as having a “reputation for being one of the most difficult off-road courses in one of the most remote places in the world”.
The two-day off-road, multi-terrain race for motorcycles, cars, buggies and quads through desert country between Alice Springs and the town of Aputula, also known as Finke, takes place every June.
The car section of the race has now been cancelled.
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