US evangelist Billy Graham, who counseled presidents and preached to millions across the world from his native North Carolina to communist North Korea during his 70 years in the pulpit, died on Wednesday at the age of 99, a spokesman said.
He died at 8am EST (1pm GMT) at his home in Montreat, North Carolina, according to Jeremy Blume, a spokesman for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.
According to his ministry, he preached to more people than anyone else in history, reaching hundreds of millions of people either in person or via TV and satellite links. He was famed for his style of roaming the stage and hoisting a Bible as he declared Jesus Christ to be the only solution to humanity’s problems.
Mr Graham, nicknamed God’s Machine Gun, became the de facto White House chaplain to several US presidents, most famously Richard Nixon. He also met with scores of world leaders and was the first noted evangelist to take his message behind the Iron Curtain.
He delivered a sermon to the queen in the Royal Family’s private chapel, and was featured in the recent mini series “The Crown” as a spiritual adviser to the young Queen Elizabeth II.
At his 95th birthday celebrations in 2013 some 800 guests, including Republican politician Sarah Palin, business magnates Rupert Murdoch and Donald Trump and television hostess Kathie Lee Gifford paid tribute.
The celebration featured a video of a sermon that his son Franklin said was Graham’s last message to the nation. Graham had been working for a year on the video, which was aired on Fox News. In it, he said America was “in great need of a spiritual awakening.”
In his prime Graham had a thunderous, quick-burst speaking style that earned him the nickname “God’s Machine Gun.” Through his “Crusades for Christ,” Graham sowed fields of devotion across the American heartland that would become fertile ground for the growth of the religious right’s conservative political movement.
His influence was fueled by an organization that carefully planned his religious campaigns, putting on international conferences and training seminars for evangelical leaders, Martin said.
Graham’s mastery of the media was ground-breaking. In addition to radio and publishing, he used telephone lines, television and satellites to deliver his message to homes, churches and theaters around the world.
Some 77 million saw him preach in person while nearly 215 million more watched his crusades on television or through satellite link-ups, a Graham spokeswoman said.
Graham started meeting with presidents during the tenure of Harry Truman. He played golf with Gerald Ford, skinny-dipped in the White House pool with Lyndon Johnson, vacationed with George HW Bush and spent the night in the White House on Nixon’s first day in office.
George W Bush gave Graham credit for helping him rediscover his faith and in 2010, when it was difficult for Graham to travel, the then president Barack Obama made the trip to the preacher’s log cabin home in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains.
Graham’s reputation took a hit because of Nixon after the release of 1972 White House tapes in which the two were heard making anti-Semitic comments. Graham later said he did not remember the conversation and apologised.
Graham concluded his career of religious campaigns in June 2005 in New York with a three-day stand that attracted more than 230,000 people, his organisation said. He turned over his evangelical association to his son Franklin. Graham’s other four children were also evangelists.
In addition to suffering with Parkinson’s disease for many years, Graham’s health problems in his later years included a broken hip, a broken pelvis, prostate cancer and installation of a shunt in his brain to control excess fluid. He was hospitalized in 2011, 2012 and 2013 for respiratory problems.
Article Source : http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/02/21/us-evangelist-billy-graham-dies-aged-99/