Billy Graham, 1918-2018

Presidents, power-brokers, and common people everywhere continue to mourn the death of America’s Pastor, Evangelist Billy Graham. After years of preaching of death’s inevitability, he squarely faced his own. In contrast to an increasingly death-defying culture, Billy Graham tackled the topic of death often and with surprising frankness for a preacher who made his living and built an evangelical movement preaching the Good News of salvation in Jesus Christ.

First, he said, “Accept the fact that you will die.” Second, “Make arrangements.” Third, “Make provision for those you are leaving behind.” And finally, “Make an appointment with God.”

Ever the realist, Graham understood that it is natural to fear death. Everyone did. But facing it squarely put life in a longer perspective. “The future is as bright as the promises of God.”

I recall that in fifth grade our teacher asked our class to name our heroes, people we most admire. It took no time for me to reply, “Raphael Mendez (virtuoso trumpeter), and that preacher Billy Graham.” I will never forget the first time I heard Mendez play and Billy Graham preach. The music may fade away but Billy Graham’s proclamation of God’s eternal promises remains as powerful and precious as the hour I first believed.

Happy Easter!

-Pastor Cornils