|Rev. Billy Graham (1918-2018)|
In 1996, on the occasion of being presented the Congressional Gold Medal, Graham offered these observations about our nation: “America has gone a long way down the wrong road. We must turn around and go back and change roads. If ever we needed God's help, it is now. ... If ever we needed spiritual renewal, it is now. And it can begin today in each one of our lives, as we repent before God and yield ourselves to Him and His Word. We have confused liberty with license — and we are paying the awful price. We are a society poised on the brink of self-destruction. What is the problem? The real problem is within ourselves. ... I believe the fundamental crisis of our time is a crisis of the spirit. We have lost sight of the moral and spiritual principles on which this nation was established — principles drawn largely from the Judeo-Christian tradition as found in the Bible... What must be done? Let me briefly suggest three things. First, we must repent. In the depths of the American Civil War, Abraham Lincoln called for special days of public repentance and prayer. Our need for repentance is no less today. Repentance means to change our thinking and our way of living. It means to turn from our sins and to commit ourselves to God and His will. Second, we must commit our lives to God, and to the moral and spiritual truths that have made this nation great. Think how different our nation would be if we sought to follow the simple and yet profound injunctions of the Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount. But we must respond to God, Who is offering us forgiveness, mercy, supernatural help, and the power to change. Third, our commitment must be translated into action — in our homes, in our neighborhoods, and in our society. Jesus taught there are only two roads in life. One is the broad road that is easy and well-traveled, but which leads to destruction. The other is the narrow road of truth and faith that at times is hard and lonely, but which leads to life and salvation.”
Amid all the world travel, Billy Graham was, first and foremost, a family man. He met his wife of 64 years, Ruth Bell Graham, at Wheaton College in the early '40s, and the two had five children, 19 grandchildren and many great-grandchildren. Mrs. Graham died in 2007. Their eldest son, Franklin, officially took the helm of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association in 2000, and many of his other children and grandchildren are involved in ministry.