Evangelist Franklin Graham took on the cadence and tenor of his father as he turned the funeral of “America’s Pastor” into a crusade.
Graham’s forthright presentation of the Gospel to millions via the nation’s airways no doubt came to the consternation of liberal-leaning Americans who would like to see Christianity’s influence wane in the country.
The gathering of over 2,000 took place in a tent on the grounds of the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, North Carolina, in a scene very reminiscent of the great evangelist’s first revival meetings in Los Angeles nearly 70 years ago.
Billy Graham reportedly planned parts of the event himself before his passing last week at the age of 99.
Franklin Graham’s message was his father is in heaven now, and he would want all to join him there one day.
The son noted his dad would often say, “Someday you’ll read that Billy Graham is dead…Don’t you believe one word of it…I’ll be more alive than I am now. I will have just changed addresses that’s all.”
“Just a few days ago, my Father followed Jesus all the way to heaven,” said Graham. “Most of his life was spent traveling the world, but the last week he embarked on the journey he had been looking forward to all of his life: the journey from earth to heaven.”
For those who haven’t made a decision for Christ, the evangelist said there would be no better time than on the occasion of Billy Graham’s funeral.
On hand at Friday’s event were President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump, as well as Vice President Mike Pence and his wife Karen.
Among the music artists who participated in the service were Michael W. Smith, who sang “Above All,” and the Gaither Vocal Band, who performed the hymn “Because He Lives.”
Smith, 60, performed at multiple Billy Graham Crusades over the years.
At Wednesday’s ceremony at the Capitol Rotunda honoring Graham, Smith offered an emotional rendition of the hymn “Just As I Am” following Trump’s remarks.
The song accompanied Graham’s altar calls at his crusades, and hundreds and thousands would stream to the stage where the evangelist would lead them in a prayer to ask Jesus into their hearts.
The first of Graham’s large-scale crusades was in Los Angeles in 1949. The man of God was invited to speak at a tent revival meeting, which was initially scheduled for three weeks, but ended up running for two months due to the large crowds that came to hear Graham preach.
Media mogul William Randolph Hearst was so impressed with the young Gospel preacher he directed his papers to “puff Graham,” which made him a nationwide celebrity, the Los Angeles Times reported.
America’s Pastor held the last of his trademark crusades in New York City in 2005, which followed one the previous year at the Rose Bowl in Los Angeles, wrapping up a 60-year career that included over 400 such events worldwide.
Graham’s influence was so profound and lasting, he still made the top five in Gallup’s most influential men in December, marking his 61st appearance in the survey.
During the course of his lifetime, approximately 215 million people heard Graham preach the salvation message in person in over 185 countries, with ten of millions more reached through television, films and webcasts.
Franklin Graham drew his remarks to a close on Friday, saying he last visited with his father days before he passed.
Graham said, “I can only imagine what it was like for my father to step into heaven, and there was the Lord Jesus Christ to say, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.'”
Motioning toward his father’s casket, he concluded, “Daddy, I won’t see you on this earth again, but I will see you again…to God be the glory.”
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