God’s greatest messenger of our time is silent today.
The Rev. Billy Graham’s death brings a significant sense of loss to people throughout the world. Believers and nonbelievers everywhere knew and admired him as a man of personal, professional, and spiritual integrity.
That integrity enabled him to cross national, racial, and class boundaries. No matter the audience — be they world leaders or everyday people — Billy Graham’s message was the same: the power of Jesus Christ transforms lives. He had the courage of his convictions to bring that message to some of the most influential people of our time.
In addition, 12 U.S. presidents looked to Billy Graham for advice and counsel. My wife Reneé and I had the pleasure of a short meeting with Dr. Graham in 2010. It was one of the most meaningful and profound times of my life.
Billy Graham had the extraordinary ability to take complex problems facing humanity — war, poverty, disease, prejudice — and explain them simply in spiritual terms. And he did it so effortlessly that one would think he had been discussing the issue with God just moments before.
He probably had.
Billy Graham played an important role in the early years of World Vision. Alongside World Vision’s founder Bob Pierce, he visited children’s homes and preached to U.S. troops in Korea and later served as chair of the World Vision board.
In 1950, Billy Graham announced he was canceling an order for a new Chevrolet and instead giving the money to World Vision to help orphaned Korean children. His gift and his endorsement helped the fledgling organization to survive the early years and grow into an agency that today has more than 42,000 staff helping serve victims of poverty and injustice in nearly 100 countries.
Today, Billy Graham has been reunited with his wife, Ruth, who probably introduced him to Jesus Christ face-to-face. And I’m certain the Lord greeted him with the words, “Welcome home.”
World Vision U.S. President Rich Stearns is the author of The Hole In Our Gospel and Unfinished. Follow him at twitter.com/richstearns.