A prominent and committed faith leader in his own write, the eldest son of Billy Graham, Franklin Graham, on Friday delivered the main eulogy for his father, who passed away on Feb. 21, 2018, at the age of 99.
Franklin Graham is president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) and Samaritan’s Purse.
Billy Graham’s other children — Gigi, Anne, Ruth, and Ned, all of whom lead ministries of their own — also shared tributes to their father.
“He has often said that someday you will read that Billy Graham is dead,” noted Franklin at one point during his remarks. “He said, ‘Don’t you believe one word of it.’ He said, ‘I’ll be more alive than I am now. I’ll just have changed addresses, that’s all.'”
(Watch two separate LifeZette video clips from Franklin Graham’s eulogy below — one just below, the second further down in this article.)
Some 2,000 people were expected to be in attendance at the funeral service held in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Friday for the man widely known as “America’s Pastor” — though the evangelist and faith leader was far better known as a man of humility than someone with such a grand title, even if it was unofficial.Earlier this week, Michael W. Smith brought scores of people to tears.
He gave a moving rendition of “Just As I Am.” Crowds of people on Wednesday paid their respects to Graham as his body lay in honor in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda in Washington, D.C. — an honor reserved for precious few private citizens in this country.
President Donald J. Trump as well as former presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush, and Bill Clinton all paid their respects to Billy Graham throughout the week. Graham advised not just many American presidents over the years; he literally spoke to millions of everyday people from all walks of life during his crusades and speeches across the country over many decades.
Always, his focus and message was about the importance of forging and maintaining a personal relationship with Jesus Christ — and remembering that “God loves you.”
As Christianity Today noted about the Friday ceremony, “Graham himself planned out [his funeral] ceremony more than a decade ago, hoping that even his death could continue to point people to the gospel.”
Graham’s “last crusade [was to] take place in front of the Billy Graham Library in a towering, 28,000-square-foot white tent meant to evoke the ‘canvas cathedral’ where the evangelist held one of his first crusades in 1949 in Los Angeles,” the publication also noted. It further said that “Graham will be buried beside his late wife Ruth in a prayer garden alongside the rustic, barn-style library erected in Graham’s honor. As Ruth approached her death just weeks after the library opened more than a decade ago, the Grahams debated where they would be buried and ultimately decided on Charlotte over their longtime home outside Asheville, North Carolina.”
During his moving eulogy, Franklin Graham stressed how his father always carried the Bible with him and quoted from it constantly during his sermons and speeches. He stressed the love of Jesus and the devotion of God the Father to all of us.
“You see, Jesus was God in the flesh,” said Franklin Graham during the powerful eulogy. “He is the only one in history to take our sins and to pay the debt of sin, and my father would want me to share this with you today, that God sent His Son, His Only Son, from heaven to this earth to take our sins — and He took our sins to the cross. And He died in our place. He shed His blood for each and every one of you. And when He hung on the cross, God poured out the sins of mankind on His Son, the sins past, present and future … He was buried for our sins. And on the third day, God raised His Son to life. Jesus is not dead. He is alive and He’s here today. Are you trusting Him? He’ll come into each and every heart that invites Him.”