One week ago today, I heard the news: Billy Graham had passed to his eternal reward.
Today and tomorrow, his body lies in honor at the Capitol Rotunda. News reports say he preached to more than 215 million people and he advised and prayed with many state leaders.
What many people do not know is that Dr. Graham was an outspoken advocate for life. Not only was he instrumental in the founding of Care Net. In fact, one of the first organizational meetings for the nonprofit that would become Care Net took place in his home. Through his website and advice column, he encouraged anyone who was considering abortion to visit our website for confidential help from a skilled pregnancy decision coach:
"Ask God to lead you to the right person or agency (your pastor may be able to help you). You may also find it helpful to contact Care Net, one of largest networks of pregnancy centers in North America. Care Net seeks to provide the most accessible and effective abortion alternatives possible. For a discussion on the alternatives to an unwanted pregnancy, you may visit Care Net’s website, where there are opportunities to call, email or live chat with someone confidentially."
While Dr. Graham recognized abortion as the evil it is, he was eager to minister grace and forgiveness to those who had experienced it, as his advice to one struggling woman shows:
"What you did was wrong in God’s eyes—but He has not rejected you or abandoned you. He loves you, just as He loved the child that was growing in your womb (and is now, I am confident, safely in His presence). Furthermore, when Christ died on the cross, all your sins—without exception—were transferred to Him, and He took upon Himself the judgment you deserved. As the Bible says, “He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins” (1 John 2:2).
Accept God’s gift of forgiveness today, by turning to Christ and by faith inviting Him to come into your life."
He repeatedly encouraged women, men, and grandparents considering abortion to choose life for their unborn child and abundant life in Jesus Christ as well. Most of all, his heartbeat was to see people transformed by the gospel.
In 1964, Billy Graham encoruaged students at Harvard Divinity School this way:
“I used to think that in evangelism I had to do it all, but now I approach evangelism with a totally different attitude. I approach it with complete relaxation. First of all, I don’t believe that any man can come to Christ unless the Holy Spirit has prepared his heart. Secondly, I don’t believe any man can come to Christ unless God drives him. My job is to proclaim the message. It’s the Holy Spirit’s job to do the work, period.”
Isn't that so very relevant to the compassionate spiritual care we provide to anyone who is interested at community-based pregnancy centers across North America?
I am one of many who has been influenced by Billy Graham's testimony, his example, and his life. And now that he is with the Lord, I am confident he has joined the great cloud of witness cheering us on as we run the race set before us (Hebrews 12:1).
What do you remember most about the life and ministry of Billy Graham? Please share your thoughts in the comments so we can all be encouraged.