Billy Graham reached more than 200 million through his appearances and millions more through his pioneering use of television and radio.
More than anyone else, Graham built evangelicalism into a force that rivaled liberal Protestantism and Roman Catholicism in the United States. His leadership summits and crusades in more than 185 countries and territories forged powerful global links among conservative Christians, and threw a lifeline to believers in the communist-controlled Eastern bloc. Dubbed « America’s pastor, » he was a confidant to U.S. presidents.
Américan evangelist Billy Graham, who counseled presidents and preached to millions across the world from his native North Carolina to communist North Korea during his 70 years in the pulpit, died on Wednesday at the age of 99, a spokesman said.
He died at 8am EST (1pm GMT) at his home in Montreat, North Carolina, according to Jeremy Blume, a spokesman for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.
According to his ministry, he preached to more people than anyone else in history, reaching hundreds of millions of people either in person or via TV and satellite links. He was famed for his style of roaming the stage and hoisting a Bible as he declared Jesus Christ to be the only solution to humanity’s problems.
Mr Graham, nicknamed God’s Machine Gun, became the de facto White House chaplain to several US presidents, most famously Richard Nixon. He also met with scores of world leaders and was the first noted evangelist to take his message behind the Iron Curtain.
Graham used the power of new technologies, like radio and television, to spread his message of personal salvation to an estimated 215 million people globally, while simultaneously reflecting on technology’s limitations. Reciting the story of King David to audiences at TED1998, “David found that there were many problems that technology could not solve. There were many problems still left. And they’re still with us, and you haven’t solved them, and I haven’t heard anybody here speak to that,” he said, referring to human evil, suffering, and death. To Graham, the answer to these problems was to be found in God. Even after his death, through the work of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, led by his son Franklin, his message of personal salvation will live on. (Watch Graham’s TED Talk)