Local religious leaders react to Rev. Billy Graham’s death

JACKSON, Tenn. — The world awoke Wednesday morning to heartbreaking news of the passing of Dr. Billy Graham.

Dr. Graham, a well-respected evangelist, has been welcomed into the homes and towns of millions of people with his television ministry and powerful crusades for more than seven decades. WBBJ 7 Eyewitness News spoke with church leaders in the area, who expressed their admiration for Graham and described the influence he had on their lives.

“When I was 10 years old, I met Billy Graham,” Senior Pastor of Englewood Baptist Church Jordan Easley said. “And I walked up to him and said, ‘Dr. Graham, it’s great to meet you.’ And he looked at me and said, ‘son, you need to call me Billy.”

Faith-based leaders reflect on the ministry and life of 99-year-old Graham’s impact on evangelism.

“History books will never be able to recant all of the great works that Pastor Graham has done throughout the years,” Senior Pastor of Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church Reginald Currie said.

Graham has always been known for his powerful messages, delivering the gospel to over 200 million people not only in the United States but around the world.

“All the years that he traveled, he only had one message, and the message was that Jesus is enough and Jesus saves,” Pastor Easley said.

Graham influenced pastors across West Tennessee.

In a statement, the pastor of First Baptist Church in Jackson, Dr. Justin Wainscott said, “As a pastor, I have great appreciation and respect for Dr. Graham and his ministry. For decades, he faithfully preached the gospel of Jesus Christ, offering hope and salvation to people all over the world. Though Graham was far from perfect, he lived out his faith with the highest degree of integrity and moral character.”

Pastor Currie said, “I can only aspire to do half the work that Dr. Graham did over the years. I think every minister should strive to serve as Pastor Graham served his entire life.”

“One of my favorite Billy Graham quotes is that one day you’re going to hear that Billy Graham has died,” Pastor Easley said. “When you hear it, don’t believe it because on that day Billy Graham will be more alive than he’s ever been.”

Graham is remembered as being America’s Pastor, a pillar for social change.

“Christianity is not a white man’s religion,” Dr. Graham said. “And don’t let anyone ever tell you that it’s white or black — Christ belongs to all people.”

In a Facebook post Wednesday, Billy Graham’s son Franklin made a statement on his father’s passing: “He will be missed by our family, his colleagues, faithful ministry partners, and, yes, many around the world. But what joy he has to be welcomed by God the father, and be reunited with my mother in the presence of Jesus who speaks peace to eternal souls.”

A spokesman for the Graham family says his funeral will be held March 2 at the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, North Carolina.

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