Billy Graham, the charismatic North Carolina pastor who took his evangelizing crusades around the country and the globe, died on Wednesday, according to officials of his organization.
He was 99 years old.
Graham served as a counselor or minister to a dozen U.S. presidents, and he preached to an estimated 200 million people in 185 countries around the world during his life. His message reached millions more as he maintained a near-constant presence on radio, television and the Internet.
“America’s Pastor” came from modest means and grew up on a dairy farm in Charlotte, North Carolina. He found his spiritual path at 16, charmed by the traveling minister and temperance movement leader Mordecai Ham. Graham later moved to Florida and was ordained there in 1939.
He met his future wife, Ruth McCue Bell, while they attended Wheaton College, and they married in 1943. Together they would raise five children, and she would become a trusted adviser.
“When it comes to spiritual things, my wife has had the greatest influence on my ministry,” Graham said of Bell, who died in June 2007.
Graham was known for his sense of humor and for maintaining a nonpartisan Christian view, which earned him some criticism. But his dedication to ministry and unity is long evident and best… (READ MORE)