FIRST ON FOX: Speaking to Fox News Digital in a revealing phone interview, Rev. Franklin Graham — leader of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association as well as of Samaritan’s Purse — said very simply of his father, “I miss him.”
Five years ago on this day, Billy Graham passed away at age 99 in North Carolina.
The Christian evangelist was one of the most admired people in the world. The faith leader held crusades from many corners of the globe — and along the way, counseled or interacted with numerous U.S. presidents as well, from Harry Truman to Donald Trump.
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Billy Graham died at his home in Montreat, North Carolina, on Feb. 21, 2018.
“It’s hard to believe it’s been five years,” said Franklin Graham of his father’s passing.
“My father is in heaven — I think he’s probably watching. And I think he’d be very pleased with all the work the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association has been doing,” said Franklin Graham.
He said he’s “thankful to the Lord” for the continued work and success of the organization.
He also said the ability “for us to use technology and to be able to reach people with the gospel message is increasing — and we’re thankful to God for that, too.”
He said the team opened a research center this past November 7th, on the 104th anniversary of Billy Graham’s birth in 1918.
The Billy Graham Archive and Research Center is located at the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, North Carolina. The center displays the faith leader’s papers and artifacts — allowing researchers and students an opportunity to study his written, audio and video records under one roof.
“All of my father’s archives are gathered in one place,” said Franklin Graham, “and available for people to study. [So] they have access to the records. I think he would be very happy about that as well.”
Billy Graham personally interacted with or knew all the U.S. presidents, said Rev. Graham, “from Truman to to Trump.”
And “I think that had a huge impact, especially during his time, and I think it will have an impact for many people for more years to come.”
Franklin Graham noted that the Billy Graham Library, which originally opened in 2007, has been completely redone and is now open again. To date it’s had 1.7 million visitors, he said. The library shares the life and ministry of Rev. Billy Graham through interactive exhibits and experiences.
“This is going to have an impact on people’s lives for generations. Because now people can come and see what God did through the life of a farm boy from Mecklenburg County, North Carolina — and how God took that farm boy from milking cows and working in the fields to the ends of the Earth, to preach and proclaim the gospel.”
Given some of the biggest challenges going on in the world right now — from the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic to the ongoing earthquakes in Turkey — what would Billy Graham counsel people today, if he were still alive?
Said Franklin Graham, “He would counsel people to put their faith and love in Jesus Christ.”
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He added, “Our hope is not in politicians, in our military, in our economic strength. Our hope is in God. Because we know that one day, all the things of this world will not be here … The world will go on, but in a different form than we know it today. So have to put our faith in God’s son, Jesus Christ.”
That is what is everlasting, he emphasized. And that’s what his father would have continued to share with others, he said.
Regarding the religious revival currently taking place at Asbury University in Kentucky, “he would’ve been very excited about it. As I am,” said Franklin Graham.
“I’ve been following this, and I thank God for it, at Asbury, and now it’s reaching into some other Christian universities,” he said. “I don’t understand how a revival starts, or how it stops — but I do know that it takes place.”
As Fox News Digital has reported, services at the school’s chapel have occurred almost non-stop since a worship service began there on Feb. 8. Asbury University is now planning to hold its final public evening service this Sunday and move the revival services off-campus later this week as tens of thousands have descended on the small town of Wilmore.
Given that Franklin Graham is almost constantly on the move, traveling across the country and the world, ministering to the faithful, overseeing his organizations and preaching the word of God, much as his father did — what keeps him going?
“I realize I’m running out of time,” responded Rev. Graham. “I’m 70 years old. So whatever I’m going to get done with my life, I better get to doing it,” he said.
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“I’m thankful for good health, I’m strong, I feel good — and I want to reach as many people as I can with God’s love,” he continued. “He came not to condemn us but to save us.”
Regarding his personal feelings about his father now gone five years, Franklin Graham said simply, “I miss him. I miss him.”
He added, “Yes. I just miss him. I think of him probably every day. And I just think that he would appreciate the things we’re doing today, and he would like to be part of them.”
He said his father didn’t dish out a lot of direct advice — but there was no question the guiding hand, the steady presence, was there nonetheless.
“When he asked me to take over the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association — he let me take over,” said Franklin Graham.
He didn’t let others try to do an “end run” around his son, either, he said.
Franklin Graham said he “appreciated the fact that he always affirmed me.” He said his father would tell anyone who came to him with a question or an issue about the organization, “I think you need to talk to Franklin.”
Franklin Graham recalled how he would drive out to see his father in Montreat every Sunday.
“And I would have lunch with him. And we would talk, and I would keep him informed,” he said. He would share news about the organization and how things were going, he said.
And one point, Rev. Graham recounted, he told his father that he was planning to close Decision magazine because of the expenses involved. (Billy Graham launched Decision magazine in 1960.)
“We were really tight on money,” said Franklin Graham. “So I said, ‘Daddy, we’re going to take Decision magazine out of the budget this year.”
Franklin Graham went on, “And he didn’t say anything at first.”
And then, said Rev. Graham, “he said, ‘Well, we always thought Decision magazine was a good tool for us to let people know what we’re doing — to share what we’re doing as a ministry.”
And “that’s all he said” about the issue, Franklin Graham added.
On the drive back home, he said he kept thinking about his father’s words.
And then he made a phone call.
He got on the phone with his team, he said — “and I told them to put the magazine back in the budget.”
Added Franklin Graham about his work, “I felt that my responsibility in life — the reason God had put me there, as head of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association — was to help my father finish well. And that my focus, my goal, was to make sure he accomplished everything he wanted to accomplish. And when he could no longer minister, I knew I needed to make sure the organization continued doing what it needed to do — and that was evangelism.”
And “when he died, I felt that my job was complete, in many ways,” said Franklin Graham. “That I had completed the task that God had called me to do.”
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And “God has left me on this Earth for another five years” since then, he said.
So “I hope that at the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, we can continue what my father and his team started — and that we can take it on to another generation.”
At age 70, he said, “maybe I’ll live another few more years — maybe I’ll live another 20 years. I don’t know. But I know that my task, my commitment to my father, was completed.”
He added in a further reflection about his father: “It was a privilege to serve him.”