World renowned Christian evangelist Reverend Billy Graham passed away of "natural causes" on Wednesday at the age of 99.
Graham had a career that spanned eight decades. He was the Chairman of the Board of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA), which "exists to support and extend the evangelistic calling and ministries of Billy Graham and Franklin Graham by proclaiming the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ to all we can by every effective means available to us and by equipping the church and others to do the same," according to the association's website.
"My one purpose in life is to help people find a personal relationship with God," Graham once said, "which, I believe, comes through knowing Christ."
According to Graham's bio on the association's website:
Mr. Graham has preached the Gospel to more people in live audiences than anyone else in history—nearly 215 million people in more than 185 countries and territories—through various meetings, including Mission World and Global Mission. Hundreds of millions more have been reached through television, video, film, and webcasts.
Since the 1949 Los Angeles Crusade vaulted Mr. Graham into the public eye, he has led hundreds of thousands of individuals to make personal decisions to live for Christ, which is the main thrust of his ministry.
Also known as "the World's Preacher," Graham was granted an audience with luminaries the world over ranging from former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill to the Shah of Iran. Graham even served as counsel for multiple U.S. presidents from President Dwight Eisenhower to President Barack Obama.
Here's a list of Graham's awards in recognition of his work:
- Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation Freedom Award (2000) for contributions to the cause of freedom
- Congressional Gold Medal (1996)
- Templeton Foundation Prize for Progress in Religion (1982)
- Big Brother Award for his work on behalf of the welfare of children (1966)
- In 1964 he received the Speaker of the Year Award and was cited by the George Washington Carver Memorial Institute for his contributions to race relations.
- He was recognized by the Anti-Defamation League of the B’nai B’rith in 1969 and the National Conference of Christians and Jews in 1971 for his efforts to foster a better understanding among all faiths.
- In December 2001 he was presented with an honorary knighthood, Honorary Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE), for his international contribution to civic and religious life over 60 years.
- Graham was also an accomplished author that published 33 books over the years.
"Approaching Hoofbeats: The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse” (1983) was listed for several weeks on The New York Times best seller list; “How to Be Born Again” (1977) had the largest first printing in publishing history at the time with 800,000 copies; “Angels: God’s Secret Agents” (1975) sold one million copies within 90 days; and “The Jesus Generation” (1971) sold 200,000 copies in the first two weeks," according to the BGEA.
Although Graham hadn't been in the best of health in recent years, he continued his work of spreading the word of Jesus Christ. Graham had been diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease in 1992.
Here is one of Graham's more prominent sermons, which was delivered three days after the attacks of September 11, 2001:
Rest in peace, Rev. Graham.