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.”
Denver plane engine fire consistent with metal fatigue, investigators say | UK News
Metal fatigue may have caused an engine explosion during a United Airlines flight over Denver on Saturday, investigators say.
The Pratt & Whitney PW4000 engine caught fire shortly after take-off and debris rained down on a residential area below.
A total of 231 passengers and 10 crew were on board the Boeing-777 aircraft, which was bound for Honolulu, but nobody was hurt and the plane landed safely.
United Airlines, Egyptair and operators in Japan and South Korea, have all since said they will not fly some of their Boeing planes until further inspection.
Boeing has also recommended that airlines suspend use of the planes while the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) identifies an appropriate inspection protocol.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) revealed last night that a preliminary assessment showed two fan blades on the Denver plane’s engine had broken.
One blade had signs of metal fatigue, while investigators believe the other was chipped when the first broke off.
According to NTSB chairman Robert Sumwalt, the blades are being sent to the Pratt & Whitney laboratory for review under the supervision of NTSB inspectors.
“Our mission is to find out what happened and why it happened, so we can keep it from happening again,” he said.
The Denver explosion is being linked to another serious engine failure, which occurred on a United Airlines flight from San Francisco in 2018. Then, the right engine broke shortly before the plane landed in Honolulu.
Like the incident on Saturday, an investigation by the NTSB found the failure was caused by a full-length fan blade fracture.
The FAA has said it plans to issue an emergency airworthiness directive soon that will require stepped-up inspections of the fan blades for fatigue.
Pratt & Whitney did not respond immediately to a request for comment.
Gerard Depardieu: French actor charged with rape and sexual assault after dropped investigation is revived | World News
French actor Gerard Depardieu has been charged with rape and sexual assault after authorities revived a 2018 investigation that was dropped, the Paris prosecutor’s office said.
The office said Depardieu was not detained when he was handed the preliminary charges on 16 December last year.
The Paris prosecutor’s office has addressed the charges after the case was leaked to French media.
Reports in the country say the charges relate to allegations made by an actress in her 20s that date back to 2018.
An initial inquiry against the movie star was dropped in 2019 because of lack of evidence, but was later revived.
French newspaper Le Parisien and BFM TV said the actress and dancer alleged Depardieu assaulted her in August 2018 at his Paris home.
The actress, who has not been named, first filed a complaint with details of alleged rape and assault in August 2018 in the southern French city of Aix-en-Provence.
The probe was take over by Paris investigators, but was soon dropped.
Depardieu’s lawyer Herve Temime was not immediately available for comment, but he has previously said that the actor “absolutely denies any rape, any sexual assault, any crime”.
Depardieu is among France’s most well-known stars.
He has appeared in 200 films over six decades and is among a few French actors who have made a name for themselves in Hollywood.
He won a Golden Globe for his performance in Green Card, a 1990 English-language romantic comedy.
His first big hit in France was Les Valseuses (Going Places), Bertrand Blier’s classic farce about two wandering thugs.
Before crossing the Atlantic, Depardieu played an array of roles ranging from Jean Valjean, the thief-turned-saint in Les Miserables, to Christopher Columbus.
Checkpoint shooting investigation raises questions over Israeli authorities’ version of events | World News
An investigation into the fatal shooting of a Palestinian man whose car hit a checkpoint has raised questions about the Israeli authorities’ version of events and put renewed focus on Israel’s tactics and procedures in the occupied West Bank.
Ahmad Erekat, 26, a cousin of Palestinian diplomat and negotiator Saeb Erekat, was shot by border police seconds after his car hit an Israeli checkpoint between Jerusalem and Bethlehem on 23 June 2020.
Security camera footage, released at the time by the Israeli authorities, showed his car approaching the checkpoint before veering abruptly to the right. It hit a group of police officers. Remarkably, only one officer was lightly wounded.
The video showed him exiting the car and walking backwards with his arms raised as he is shot several times.
The investigation by Forensic Architecture, a London-based research agency specialising in human rights violations, has concluded that Mr Erekat:
- Was shot while posing no immediate threat
- Was not given any first aid treatment by the Israeli authorities after the shooting despite showing clear signs of life
- Was treated in an “inhumane, degrading manner”
- Did not accelerate towards the police officers but showed signs of braking before impact
- Did not approach the police officers as the military claims
To date, the Israeli authorities have not handed over Mr Erekat’s body for burial and have not released details of their own investigation.
Mr Erekat’s family have always insisted he was running errands ahead of his sister’s wedding that was to take place later the same day and that he lost control of the car.
The authorities say the incident was an intentional ramming attack which are quite regular at checkpoints across the West Bank.
Just one CCTV video of the incident was released, but investigators at Forensic Architecture gathered numerous other videos from witnesses.
With the help of a forensic collision expert, they concluded that, contrary to the authorities’ assertion the vehicle accelerated into the checkpoint, it maintained a constant speed until just before the impact.
Their video analysis from different camera angles showed evidence suggesting that Mr Erekat might have braked at the last moment.
Mr Erekat was shot after he exited the car and backed away with his hands in the air. The military maintains the context of regular ramming attacks and his behaviour as he exited the car gave the border police reason to believe they were in immediate life threatening danger.
Through further video analysis, the investigators were able to conclude that no first aid was provided to Mr Erekat despite clear signs that he was still alive.
A Palestinian ambulance which arrived at the scene was denied access.
An hour-and-a-half after he was shot, Mr Erekat’s body, which had been stripped naked, was removed by the authorities.
The investigators said: “His body was treated in an inhuman and degrading manner and later seized by the army to deny him a proper burial-an act of collective punishment. To date, the Israeli army has not opened an investigation into Erekat’s crash and continues to withhold most of the evidence.”
Mr Erekat’s body is one of more than 50 currently being held by the Israeli authorities. All are Palestinians killed over recent years while allegedly committing acts of terror.
Saeb Erekat, the veteran Palestinian peace negotiator, led a very public call for the release of his cousin’s body until his own death from coronavirus in November.
The Forensic Architecture investigation was supported by Al Haq, a Palestinian Human Rights group. Israel claims that its director, Shawan Jabarin, has links to the PFLP, internationally recognised as terrorist organisation.
Sky News put the conclusions of the Forensic Architecture investigation to the Israeli authorities.
In a joint statement, the Israeli Defence Forces and the police said: “From the evidence collected, it was established beyond doubt that those present at the scene were certain that they were in immediate life-threatening danger, and that this was an assailant who had carried out a deliberate attack.”
“Contrary to allegations, Erekat was examined at the scene of the incident by medical personnel a few minutes following the attack, and was found to have no pulse or breathing, and therefore no resuscitation procedures were performed on the spot, and his death was pronounced accordingly. During the entire incident there was no degrading treatment or infringement of the dignity of the deceased.”
“The issue of holding the terrorist’s body is in legal proceedings in the High Court, so we will not be able to elaborate further at this time.”
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