Billy Graham died this past week on Feb 21 2018 at his North Carolina home, aged 99. When he celebrated his ninety-ninth birthday last November, he told his family gathered that he might live to 100! But God had other plans. Seven years ago in his final book, “Nearing Home”, he shared his insights and wisdom as he neared eternity. By then his body had been slowed by Parkinson’s disease, and his speech reduced to a soft whisper. His one desire was always to join his beloved wife Ruth who had died eleven years earlier, whom he missed terribly. Billy Graham is now finally home….
I listened to tributes pouring in from ex-presidents and Christian leaders on TV tonight. What will we remember Graham best for? Three things stand out for me. First was his humility. I have heard Christian leaders like George Verwer and Ravi Zacharias tell how Billy had taken the initiative to greet them, and introduce himself to them first in the days when they were still “nobodies”. On CNN tonight, Joel Osteen recounted how, when he met Billy Graham a few years back, all Billy wanted to know was about Joel and his ministry. Never once did the great man mention that he had preached to over 210 million people in his crusades worldwide, and that two billion people to date have heard his messages on audio or video. Joel’s voice cracked as he spoke.
The second is his integrity. In all these years, when many ministers have gone astray after gold, glitter and girls, Billy remained transparent in his dealings with money, fame and with the opposite sex (he never sat anywhere alone with another woman other than Ruth). It was called the “Billy Rule”. When Hollywood wanted to make a movie of him, he turned them away with the words “I despise all this attention on me…”
Thirdly, his uncompromising passion for the gospel and his God. His gospel was clear, simple, and essential for everyone of any colour however simple or smart. I once thanked him after hearing him preach at Cambridge University. I was staggered when he thanked me for thanking him and speaking to him. Such was his humility. Today, the flame has passed but his legacy lives on. May it burn bright in your heart and mine!
布道家葛培理牧师 (Billy Graham)已于上礼拜，2月21日在北卡罗莱纳的家中，安然被主接回天家，享年99岁。去年11月，当他庆祝99岁生日时，他曾向家人表示，他有信心活到100岁，然而主的意念高过人的意念。7年前，当他完成《Nearing Home》的最后一本著作时，他已经有智慧洞察到归家的日子近了。过后，他的健康情况每况愈下，被帕金森 (Parkinson)所困扰，在言语和动作上都无法自我控制。他恨不得与11年前回归天家的妻子路德 (Ruth) 早日相聚。如今，葛牧师已经回天家了。
今晚电视上，在多位前总统，教会领袖追叙葛牧师的一生贡献时，陈述着他为我们留下最深刻的印象会是什么呢？对我本人来说，不外有三件事。首先，他为人谦卑。教会领袖如George Verwer, Ravi Zacharias回忆起他们与葛牧师首次见面时的情景，虽然他们都是默默无闻的一群，但葛牧师仍先向他们问安。在CNN的电视上，Joel Osteen叙说着，若干年前他与葛牧师见面时，”葛牧师所关心的是我个人的情况及我本人的事工。葛牧师对自己的传道事工伟绩却一字不提。葛牧师曾经向全球2亿1千人传讲福音。如今，已有2亿人从不同的管道，听到葛牧师宣讲福音。”说到这里，Joel自己的声音也哽咽了起来。