Posted: February 26, 2018
CHARLOTTE, N.C. —
Former President George W. Bush and his wife, Laura Bush, will be coming to Charlotte on Monday to pay their respects to the Rev. Billy Graham.
A spokesperson for the Bush family said the two would not be able to make Billy Graham’s funeral on Friday because they were unable to break a longstanding scheduling commitment.
The Bush family will visit with the Graham family and pay their respects to the evangelical leader at the Graham Family Homeplace.
It was announced Thursday that George H.W. Bush and his wife, Barbara Bush, would not be able to travel to Charlotte for Graham’s funeral.
Graham had a close relationship with the Bush family. George H.W. Bush said that the pastor's presence on the eve of the Persian Gulf War helped him avoid doubt, "even for a second ... (about) the moral clarity of our mission that January night."
Years later his son, George W. Bush, recalled in an interview with Focus on the Family that he'd been drunk the first time he met Graham at the family compound in Kennebunkport, Maine. The two went for a walk that launched Bush's rejection of alcohol and embrace of Christianity.
Before his death, Rev. Billy Graham chose one of his favorite Scripture verses from the Bible to be placed on his grave marker.
Graham selected John 14:6 and the following inscription to be on his marker:
NOVEMBER 7, 1918 – FEBRUARY 21, 2018
PREACHER OF THE GOSPEL OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST
John 14:6 reads, “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.'”
The verse was central in Graham’s preaching ministry, and he often referred to it throughout his life.
Graham will be buried next to his late wife, Ruth Bell Graham, who died June 14, 2007.
The couple’s caskets were designed and built by inmates at the nation’s largest maximum security prison, Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola, Louisiana.
While touring the correctional facility after preaching there in 2005, Graham’s son, Franklin, saw caskets being built. Inmates at Angola make caskets for other inmates who cannot afford to buy one. Franklin was moved by this and requested that inmates make caskets for his mother and father.
The caskets are made of plywood and lined with a mattress pad. A wooden cross is nailed to the top of the casket. The Graham family requested no upgrades to the plywood casket, only a few modifications to allow the casket to be transported easily.
Funeral arrangements have been announced following the death of famed evangelist the Rev. Billy Graham. The well-known religious figure, who counseled several presidents and preached to millions of people worldwide, died Wednesday, according to the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. He was 99.
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The Rev. Billy Graham, the Christian evangelist known as “America’s pastor,” died Wednesday after battling various health ailments.
He was 99.
Billy Graham’s son, Franklin Graham, posted a tribute to him on Facebook following the news of his father’s death.
“Where is Heaven?” Franklin Graham recalled his father being asked, to which he then replied, “Heaven is where Jesus is, and I am going to Him soon!”
“He will be missed by our family, his colleagues, faithful ministry partners, and, yes, many around the world,” Franklin Graham wrote. “But what joy he has to be welcomed by God the Father, and be reunited with my mother in the presence of Jesus who speaks peace to eternal souls.”
Franklin Graham’s mother, Ruth Graham, died in 2007.
Read Franklin Graham’s Facebook post below:
Billy Graham’s daughter, Anne Graham Lotz, posted a statement about her father's death Wednesday morning.
The famed American Christian evangelist died at his home in Montreat, North Carolina. He was 99 years old.
Lotz is one of Graham’s five children with his wife Ruth Bell Graham, who died June 14, 2007.
“For years, over his head as he preached was the banner that quoted the words of Jesus: I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Jesus completed that sentence by saying that no one comes to the Father but by Me. Based on what Jesus said, Daddy is safely with the Father. In Heaven,” Lotz said in a statement posted on her Facebook page.
Read Lotz’s full statement below:“My Father’s legacy is one that encompasses the world…and engulfs my own life. When I think of him, I don’t think of Billy Graham, the public figure. I think of my Daddy. The one who was always a farmer at heart. Who loved his dogs and his cat. Who followed the weather patterns almost as closely as he did world events. Who wore old blue jeans, comfortable sweaters, and a baseball cap. Who loved lukewarm coffee, sweet ice tea, one scoop of ice cream, and a plain hamburger from McDonald’s. Who was interested in everything and everyone, from the small to the great. Whose mind remembered details that even a computer would have trouble recalling. “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. Simple faith. Faith that now matters more than anything else. “For years, over his head as he preached was the banner that quoted the words of Jesus: I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Jesus completed that sentence by saying that no one comes to the Father but by Me. Based on what Jesus said, Daddy is safely with the Father. In Heaven. Daddy not only claimed Jesus as the only Way to God, he lived by the Truth publicly on platforms and privately behind closed doors, and is now enjoying real Life. “I have often stated that I was raised by a single parent because ministry took my father away from our family—for weeks and months at a time. Daddy estimated that he was gone from home approximately 60 percent of his children’s growing-up years. Now, he has left again. This time, he will not be coming back. At least, not until Jesus does, too. “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. My prayer on this day of his move to Our Father’s House is that his death will be a rallying cry. That tens of thousands of pastors, teachers, evangelists, and ordinary men and women will rise up to take his place. That they will take up his message like a baton being passed in a relay race and faithfully pass it on to those with whom they come in contact. Because Daddy’s message is God’s message. And it’s a message of genuine hope for the future, of love for the present, of forgiveness for the past. “It’s a message, when received, that brings a fresh beginning, unshakable joy, unexplainable peace, eternal significance, meaning and purpose to life, and opens Heaven’s door. “It was this message, which Daddy carried to the world, that penetrated my own heart as a young girl and has created in me a personal, passionate resolve to communicate it myself to as many people as possible. And so, even as my tears seem to be unending, I silently rededicate my life to picking up and passing on the baton. Would you do the same?”
Evangelical leader Billy Graham, who counseled presidents and preached to millions of people worldwide, died Wednesday at 99.
How Graham got his start
Graham, the son of a North Carolina farmer, started preaching throughout the south and midwest.
He was “born again” after hearing a preacher’s service in 1934 in Charlotte, North Carolina, according to CNN.
He attended Florida Bible Institute and it was there while taking a midnight stroll in 1937 on the 18th green when he received his calling from God, Graham wrote in his biography. He was baptized Dec. 4, 1938, in Silver Lake, Florida, and ordained the following year, according to CNN.
After graduating, Graham moved to Illinois to continue his education at Wheaton College, where he met his wife, according to The New York Times.
Advisor to presidents and welcomed by world leaders
Graham advised 10 presidents starting with Harry Truman. Barack Obama was the last president Graham met with, according to the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.
Graham was most closely linked to President Richard Nixon whom he endorsed in 1968. Years later, recordings of the two were released in which they made anti-Semitic remarks. Graham apologized, saying he did not recall making the statements.
Not only did Graham counsel American presidents, world leaders of religiously restrictive countries welcomed him.
He was invited to preach in China as well as in Pyongyang by North Korean dictator Kim Il-sung, according to the New York Times. He also visited communist countries in Eastern Europe to promote peace.
Graham’s global reach
Graham was not the first evangelical but he was able to use communication and technology to gain an unprecedented reach.
Through the use of radio, books, magazines, television and the internet Graham’s “crusades” reached more than 200 million people on almost every continent.
Graham wrote 30 books and his sermons were translated into 48 languages and sent to 185 countries by satellite, according to the New York Times.
He held a crusade in Madison Square Garden in 1957. It was so popular, it was extended from six to 16 weeks and ended with a rally with 100,000 people in Times Square. It was Graham’s longest revival meeting ever.
His final crusade was in 2005 in New York City. However, the Billy Graham Evangelical Association continues to organize them.
Graham formed the Billy Graham Evangelical Association in 1950. The group continues to organize crusades, radio and television programs and publishes the Decision magazine. The association trains thousands of evangelicals and missionaries and sends a rapid response team to help in disaster areas.
His son, Franklin Graham, who developed his own following, was tapped to lead the association in 1995, according to the New York Times.
Daughter Anne Graham Lotz and grandsons Will Graham and William Graham Tullian Tchividjian are part of the ministry.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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