We have lost a giant among us
Archbishop Glenn Davies has led tributes from leaders across Sydney to Dr Billy Graham, saying ‘we have lost a giant among us’.
The American evangelist died at his home in Montreat, North Carolina, surrounded by his family, he was 99.
During his ministry, he preached to an estimated 215 million people in 185 countries around the world during his ministry as well as millions more on television and radio, and lately online.
He was welcomed by the Queen and was dubbed ‘America’s pastor as he counselled Presidents from Harry S Truman to George Bush and Barrack Obama.
He married Ruth McCue Bell after meeting her at College - and he credited her with being the greatest influence on his ministry. She died in 2007.
Under God, Dr Graham had an amazing crusade ministry in various parts of the world including London and Los Angeles.
But his landmark crusade in Sydney in 1959 was to change the face of the Sydney Diocese and Australian Christianity.
Supported by successive Archbishops of Sydney, Dr Graham returned in the 1960’s and in 1979 to evangelise again.
But it was in 1959 that he had his greatest influence and the crusade saw the conversion of many future leaders including Dr Peter Jensen, later Principal of Moore College and Archbishop of Sydney, his brother Phillip who had a long ministry in Universities and Dr Bruce Ballantine-Jones who headed the New South Wales Council of Churches.
The former Archbishop of Sydney gave thanks to God for the ministry of the evangelist.
“Like so many others, I came to know the Lord personally through the preaching of Mr Graham. He came to Australia at just the right moment in our history. He united the churches, and he preached Christ from the Bible. Throughout his life, that is what he did, never missing the chance to talk winsomely about Jesus. I thank God for the wonderful gift of this extraordinary man.” Dr Jensen said.
Dr Graham was also a driving force behind the Lausanne Movement, which grew out of the 1974 International Congress on World Evangelization he convened in Lausanne, Switzerland.
“The world has lost one of the most significant figures of the late twentieth century,” Archbishop Glenn Davies said after hearing the news of Dr Graham’s death. “Billy Graham's extensive ministry has affected the lives of millions of people around the globe, and under God, hundreds of thousands of people have been brought to faith in Jesus Christ through his anointed preaching ministry.”
The Archbishop noted his influence on this country. “We in Australia are especially grateful for his first visit to our country in 1959, where his crusade in Sydney of that year had all the hallmarks of revival with increased church attendance, increased candidates offering themselves for the ministry and a marked effect on criminal statistics with fewer crimes being committed. His visits in 1968 and 1979 were again welcomed by church leaders, which again saw an increased level of cooperation among the Churches and many people becoming Christians.”
“Billy Graham was passionate about Jesus Christ and unrelenting in finding ways to persuade people to put their trust in the Saviour of the world. We have lost a giant among us - but the angels in heaven rejoice in his arrival in his eternal home.” Dr Davies said.
Main Photo: courtesy the Lausanne Movement - Dr Graham speaks at the founding congress