Happy Birthday Daddy Bill
His grandson reflects on Billy Graham's legacy as he turns 94.

It was May 2, 1996 and I was sitting in the U.S. Capitol rotunda with my family. We were eagerly anticipating the ceremony that was getting ready to begin. I had been to Washington DC once before, back in 1985, when I was just 13 years old. This trip was different though. We were there because my grandparents were being honored on this day with the Congressional Gold Medal—the highest honor the Congress of the United States can bestow on a citizen. In fact, Senator Bob Dole, during a speech at the ceremony, said, "When the idea of awarding the Congressional Gold Medal to Billy and Ruth Graham was first raised, it received something rare in this building—unanimous approval." Everybody laughed. At the time, it was only the 114th medal awarded, with George Washington being the first recipient.

There were hundreds who came that day to honor my grandparents, ranging from then Vice President Al Gore to Kathy Lee Gifford. Newt Gingrich, Senator Dole, and Vice President Gore publicly honored my grandparents by sharing how much my grandparents meant to each of them personally.

After the medal was presented, my granddad got up to speak. Before he could say a word, the crowd stood and applauded for a solid three minutes. Tears began streaming down my face. I was so proud of him and so thankful that God had given me such a tremendous heritage—one I had neither asked for nor deserved. Here was a man who was being publicly honored for preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ to more people than anyone in history; a man who was being recognized for his love for God and love for others—and I had the privilege of calling him "Daddy Bill." As we all stood and clapped, I prayed: "Lord, no matter what it is that you call me to do, I want to do it with the God-centered focus, passion, and humility that have characterized the life and ministry of my grandfather."

It was no surprise that he presented the Gospel that day. He spoke boldly of sin, the cross, and the great need for repentance. He spoke about the brevity of life and the fleeting pleasures of this world. He looked into the eyes of the many high ranking political leaders who were there that day and challenged them to contemplate death and the life after. He was so bold, so unashamed of the Gospel—yet so winsome. To this day, I'm not sure I have ever heard the truth spoken in love more effectively. I had heard him preach a thousand times, but this time was particularly moving. I'll never forget that day.

Today "Daddy Bill" turns 94.

November 07, 2012

Displaying 1–4 of 4 comments

Jan Brown

November 08, 2012  12:47pm

I met Billy Graham when I was 12 years old. It wasn't at a stadium event or in Washington D.C. It was in a little town called Pauma Valley. Dr Graham and his family were vacationing near by and decided to attend church at the little community church which had about 65 members. Imagine the surprise on the pastor's face when in walked Billy and Ruth Graham with several of their children! The pastor stood up in the pulpit and said, "Please Rev. Graham, would you preach for us?" Dr Graham replied, "No, I came to hear you!" So, pastor went ahead (in great fear and trembling!) and shared his sermon. Afterwards, Billy thanked him for his message! Over the years, he returned to the church a few more times when he was visiting in the area. A couple of times, he actually did preach. Usually, no one knew before hand that he was coming. And he preached the same to 60 people as he did to a stadium-full. Afterwards, he stood outside the door and shook each person's hand. He is a rare man and I am thankful I was able to see this side of him. God bless you Dr. Graham and your wonderful family. -Jan Brown

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November 08, 2012  11:38am

I recently had the opportunity to hear Tullian teach, preach, and share during his Glorious Ruin Tour. I appreciated his honesty and transparency. While I've never had the chance to meet Billy Graham in person, I've been impacted–as have so many others–by his faithful witness to Jesus Christ. So today I praise God not just for his movement in and through one servant, but God's generational impact in our families! God is good!

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Marshall Shelley

November 07, 2012  2:29pm

I first met Dr. Graham when I was 10, and I was in awe. Some 45 years later, and having seen and studied and written about his life and ministry, the awe and respect has only deepened.

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November 07, 2012  1:09pm

Happy birthday, Rev. Graham! You will always be one of my heroes!

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