The Top 20 Things Historians Will Look Back on about Billy Graham
- Larry Ross A. Larry Ross Communications
- 2018 2 Mar
There has been significant media coverage about the life and legacy of evangelist Billy Graham, 99, since he passed peacefully in his sleep on February 21, 2018. Indeed, 50 years from now, historians, theologians, scholars and church growth experts will be studying his unprecedented influence, transferable ministry principles and cadre of statements and sermons he left behind, as they have other great evangelists who preceded him.
But for Millennials who may have never had opportunity to hear Mr. Graham preach, what, actually is his legacy, and why is the world stopping to reflect on his extraordinary impact. Many dimensions are easily identifiable. Consider:
- Called “America’s Pastor, “Pastor to Presidents” and “God’s Ambassador to the World”
- An influencer of influencers on the world stage, including presidents and world leaders
- Though primarily an evangelist, he was consistently a man of conscience, compassion and peace
- Provided leadership influence by example in racial/denominational reconciliation and Civil Rights
- Pioneered ministry behind the Iron Curtain (former Soviet Union, China, North Korea)
- Milestone sermons carried worldwide, including the National Cathedral on 9/14/01, President Nixon’s funeral, the Oklahoma City Bombing Prayer Service and his Congressional Gold Medal ceremony
- Kept a ministry team together for a span of more than six decades, during which America found faith after World War II, then lost its faith and is now regaining and rediscovering faith again
- Defined and gave credibility to Evangelicals and cultivated mainline churches in evangelism
- Brought catalytic unity, visibility and credibility to the local church around shared priorities, rather than differences
- Facilitated rapprochement between Christians and Jews; Catholics and Protestants; Fundamentalists and Evangelicals
- Had a seminal influence or involvement in founding other ministry organizations, such as “Christianity Today,” Gordon Conwell, ECFA, etc.
- Remained at the forefront of cutting edge evangelism, consistently and progressively using technology and every means possible to reach as many people as possible with the Gospel – first radio, then television, land-line relay and satellite extension, culminating in the innovative Mission World, Global Mission, and World Television Series
- Facilitated intergenerational impact into his 80s and provided a national model as the “World’s Oldest Youth Evangelist”
- Sponsored worldwide academic and working congresses, including Berlin ‘66, Lausanne ’74 and Amsterdam ’83, ’86 and 2000
- Involved in compassion ministry, specifically pre-Samaritan’s Purse disaster relief –such as earthquakes in Guatemala and India (where they even named a rebuilt town after him)
- Maintained a longstanding positive and prolific relationship with the media
- Became the world’s largest producer and distributor of religious films – over 130 titles.
- Demonstrated personal, spiritual, and financial integrity
- Modeled inclusive “leadership with love”
- Unprecedented appearances on Gallup “Most Admired Men” poll (a record 61 times) and other similar surveys
- It has been said that the world will not see another like Mr. Graham in our generation. In fact, his influence has been so broad, and his impact so far-reaching, we won’t know its extent this side of heaven, no matter how clearly defined.
Like the Old Testament patriarch, King David, after Mr. Graham “had served his generation according to the will of God, he died.” (Acts 13:36 NLT). Only in heaven will the full extent of his impact be revealed or understood. But his legacy will live on through the next generation of individuals called by the Lord to faithfully lift up His name.
Larry Ross is president of A. Larry Ross Communications, a Dallas-based media/public relations agency founded in 1994 to provide cross-over media liaison at the intersection of faith and culture. For more than 33 years, he served as personal media spokesperson for evangelist Billy Graham, and is responsible for the website, http://www.billygrahamlegacy.info and curator of the video streaming channel, http://bit.ly/BillyGrahamLegacyYouTube.