Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent BosNewsLife
WASHINGTON/BUDAPEST (BosNewsLife)– Billy Graham, the famed evangelist who became known as “America’s Pastor” and was a personal counselor to American presidents, has died at the age of 99, his family spokesman confirmed.
Graham, who preached “the Gospel of Christ” to millions of people around the world, died at his home Wednesday morning “from natural causes,” a statement said.
Born in 1918 in Charlotte, North Carolina, William Franklin Graham Jr. was the oldest of the four children of William and Morrow Graham. He was raised on a dairy farm, and little in his childhood suggested he would become a world-renowned preacher.
Then at 16, Graham attended a series of revival meetings run by outspoken evangelist Mordecai Ham. The two months he spent listening to Ham’s sermons on sin sparked a spiritual awakening in Graham and prompted him to enroll at Bob Jones College.
When the conservative Christian school’s strict doctrine didn’t align with his personal beliefs, he transferred to the Florida Bible Institute (now Trinity College of Florida) and joined a Southern Baptist Convention church. He was ordained in 1939.
Graham preached the Gospel to millions during ‘Crusades’, often in stadiums. In a historic move in 1985, he preached in Hungary when
the country was still part of the Soviet-led East Block. Thousands attended that gathering, including a young reporter, BosNewsLife founder Stefan J. Bos.
His final sermon, “The Cross ― Billy Graham’s Message To America,” called for a national spiritual awakening.
While his message spread, Graham was granted personal audiences with royalty, dignitaries and many sitting presidents, from Harry S. Truman to Barack Obama. Three presidents attended the dedication of the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte in 2007.
Graham retired in 2005 after health scares.
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