Billy Graham, considered by many to be the most famous pastor in the world, passed away at his North Carolina home this morning, a spokesperson has confirmed.
He was 99 years old.
Often referred to as “America’s pastor,” Graham was a vital figure in reviving the United States evangelical Christian movement.
He started holding revival meetings in the 1940s and went on to serve as an adviser to multiple U.S. Presidents.
Having seen his health take a significant downturn over the last few years, Graham had turned his international ministry over to his son, Franklin.
Graham’s Christian crusades took him across the world, from New York City to remote African villages.
According to the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association website, he preached to more people in live audiences than anyone else in history.
This site estimate his lifetime audience at nearly 215 million people in more than 185 countries and territories, with “hundreds of millions more” viewing him on TV, video, film and over the Web.
“My one purpose in life is to help people find a personal relationship with God, which, I believe, comes through knowing Christ,” Graham one said of his role on the planet.
Graham was last hospitalized in 2011 at Mission Hospital in Asheville for what was described at the time as “evaluation and treatment of his lungs.”
He was also hospitalized that year due to pneumonia.
It’s also believed that the famous religious figured suffered from Parkinson’s Disease.
Graham retired from the winding road in 2005 after nearly six decades as a pastor.
His final New York City crusade in 2005 was sponsored by 1,400 regional churches from 82 denominations.
Of acting as a spiritual adviser to numerous Presidents, Graham once said the following:
“Each one I’ve known long before they ever became president, been in their homes many times; always called them by their first names, until they became President.”
The preacher was famous close to Dwight D. Eisenhower, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, along with George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush.
President Bill Clinton turned to Graham after his much publicized sex scandal with Monica Lewinsky and George W. Bush credited Graham with helping him to quit drinking alcohol.
Graham got married in August 1943 to a woman named Ruth, with whom he had five children, 19 grandchildren and numerous great-grandchildren.
She passed away in 2007 after 64 years of married.
“Do I fear death?” Graham once said at a news conference.
He then answered as follows:
“No. I look forward to death with great anticipation. I’m looking forward to seeing God face to face, and that could happen any day.”
It has now happened.
May Billy Graham rest in peace.