Graham: I was faithful to the message

CNN's Kyra Phillips speaks with evangelist Billy Graham in his last interview before passing away at 99.

Posted: Feb 22, 2018 11:03 AM
Updated: Feb 22, 2018 11:03 AM

Billy Graham left a mark, evident in the remembrances offered by so many around the world. From political and religious leaders to everyday people on the street, few in recent memory have provoked such an outpouring. Each comment is a reminder not only of Graham's role in transforming individual Christians through his revivals, but that he stands as a giant in modern history.

Consider that he met Katharine Hepburn in 1949 and prayed with President Barack Obama in 2010. Graham's presence and ministry has been a singular thread in American life through generations of change and conflict. As such, despite the rush by some on social media to label Graham by our modern polarized culture, he remains a figure who defies easy classification. Those who try to put him in a box invariably reveal their own bias by either reducing Graham or distorting him.

Reflecting on the legacy of Billy Graham in the afterword to the book "Billy Graham: American Pilgrim," historian Margaret Bendroth observed, "Evangelicals do not choose their leaders lightly." She is right. While there are flashes in the pan of charismatic leaders who briefly catch our attention, few have sustained success in unifying such a broad, diverse and unruly movement.

Graham did what few had even thought possible in providing a unifying vision for evangelicals and other Christians. Reviewing the countless articles and memorials that have poured out Wednesday, I'm left with these questions: What made Billy Graham so different? What made his ministry so successful?

While most articles and memorials portray Graham as a famous Christian or as "America's pastor," this is not how Graham wanted us to remember him. Graham's true legacy — why so many people are celebrating him — is not that he was famous. Graham's place in American history is due to his singular devotion to making someone else famous.

Winsome, intentional and gracious, Graham distinguished himself in American culture with his singular devotion to making Jesus famous. In fact, when someone commented to Graham that he had done some great things, his response was, "God has done some good things through me." At the heart of his vision was the simple belief that the gospel of Jesus Christ was the needed answer for a struggling world.

It's really an odd thing: Graham was world famous for talking about someone else.

As executive director of the center at Wheaton College named after Graham, I am cognizant of carrying on his legacy, of pointing people to Jesus. I often ask myself, "What do we need to do here at the center that would honor Billy Graham?" My mission in life, as well as my staff's and that of so many millions around the world, is the same that burned bright in Graham -- I'm sure until his last breath. We want to show and share the love of Jesus with as many as possible. There's no greater calling we can have.

What drew evangelicals to Graham's leadership and what continues to draw so many from various Christian traditions and denominations to his message was his recognition of the truth in Paul's words to the first century church in Corinth: "For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures."

If you are not a Christian, or if you don't know or feel included in Billy Graham's legacy, please understand that his humanitarian and bridge-building work around the globe was inseparable from his belief that salvation was offered to all through Jesus' death on the cross and resurrection. Graham would want you to know he was always striving to show and share the love of Jesus to a broken and hurting world.

If you are a Christian, Graham's legacy of evangelism and cultural engagement is yours to maintain. Graham understood what it meant to be a good and faithful servant. Today, that baton has been passed. It is up to us to join the race now that his run is completed.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 52037

Reported Deaths: 2762
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion12111693
Lake5677249
Elkhart366260
Allen2971134
St. Joseph221169
Hamilton1735101
Cass16489
Hendricks1470100
Johnson1351118
Porter84938
Vanderburgh8016
Tippecanoe7859
Clark71944
Madison68164
LaPorte62928
Howard61058
Bartholomew60545
Kosciusko5844
Marshall57011
Noble52428
Boone49244
LaGrange48710
Delaware48152
Jackson4793
Hancock47436
Shelby46025
Floyd41844
Monroe36128
Morgan34431
Grant32226
Dubois3196
Henry30318
Montgomery29720
Clinton2903
White27810
Dearborn27123
Warrick26829
Vigo2618
Decatur25732
Lawrence25325
Harrison21822
Greene19932
Miami1942
Jennings17912
Putnam1748
DeKalb1694
Scott1659
Wayne1596
Daviess15117
Perry15110
Steuben1402
Orange13823
Jasper1362
Ripley1357
Franklin1288
Gibson1282
Wabash1193
Carroll1142
Starke1093
Fayette1087
Whitley1086
Newton10110
Huntington942
Jefferson872
Wells831
Randolph804
Fulton761
Jay720
Knox710
Washington681
Pulaski661
Clay645
Posey640
Rush623
Spencer591
Owen531
Benton510
Sullivan511
Adams491
Brown441
Blackford402
Fountain362
Crawford330
Tipton331
Switzerland320
Parke280
Martin260
Ohio230
Vermillion200
Warren151
Union140
Pike120
Unassigned0193

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 66853

Reported Deaths: 3064
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin12301449
Cuyahoga9359399
Hamilton7046208
Lucas3079306
Marion275539
Montgomery257936
Summit2382209
Pickaway222942
Mahoning1971239
Butler189747
Columbiana139560
Stark1244116
Lorain118970
Trumbull106678
Warren101826
Clark82010
Delaware76315
Fairfield71917
Lake62723
Tuscarawas62110
Licking60012
Medina59932
Belmont57324
Clermont5157
Miami51431
Wood51051
Portage50960
Ashtabula45244
Geauga43143
Richland3906
Allen38541
Wayne37655
Greene3659
Mercer30410
Erie30122
Holmes2625
Darke26126
Huron2602
Madison2259
Ottawa21724
Athens1921
Sandusky17615
Ross1503
Washington14720
Putnam14515
Coshocton1434
Crawford1405
Jefferson1272
Morrow1271
Hardin12512
Union1151
Auglaize1124
Muskingum1061
Preble961
Lawrence920
Clinton912
Monroe8917
Hancock871
Hocking839
Guernsey824
Scioto770
Shelby774
Williams772
Carroll713
Logan711
Ashland692
Fulton680
Wyandot665
Brown621
Fayette580
Highland581
Champaign571
Knox571
Defiance553
Van Wert491
Perry481
Seneca442
Henry370
Paulding340
Jackson310
Pike290
Adams282
Vinton232
Gallia211
Noble140
Harrison131
Meigs130
Morgan120
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Clear
84° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 84°
Angola
Clear
84° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 84°
Huntington
Clear
82° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 83°
Decatur
Clear
82° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 82°
Van Wert
Clear
82° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 82°
Storms Late Wednesday
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events