By: Josh Shepherd – stream.org – February 22, 2018
This week, the world mourns the death of Reverend Billy Graham. He preached the Christian gospel to more than 215 million people worldwide during his lifetime. Graham also met with and advised every U.S. President since the World War II era.
Several Christian ministries Graham founded remain active, notably Christianity Today and his own evangelistic association. He mentored and encouraged several next-generation leaders — Reverend James Robison among them, founder and publisher of The Stream.
One evangelical Latino leader has spoken for decades of his regard for Billy Graham. “I will never stop being grateful for the impact he has had on my life,” says Reverend Samuel Rodriguez, head of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference.
Help us champion truth, freedom, limited government and human dignity. Support The Stream »
Aspects of Graham’s ministry can be seen in Rodriguez. While he preaches weekly at an evangelical church in California, Rodriguez also advises President Trump as a member of the White House Faith Leaders Initiative. He spoke in an interview after having traveled to Israel with one of Graham’s 19 grandchildren.
Evangelist to America — and All the World
The Stream: How did Billy Graham make such an impact on so many people?
Rev. Samuel Rodriguez: Billy Graham was the most influential evangelist since the Apostle Paul. No one else has done more to advance the gospel of Jesus than he did. He did so because not only did he preach the word of God, but he lived the word. The words integrity and character are synonymous with Billy Graham.
In a day and age where we are so driven by the number of likes and followers, Billy Graham was not defined by the number of likes. He was defined by the love of one: Jesus. He was not defined by the number of followers he had. He was motivated and driven by the message to follow Christ, to give him and only him the glory.
“Billy Graham was not defined by the number of likes. He was defined by the love of one: Jesus.”
You saw Jesus when you heard him preach. In such a clear and engaging manner, he reflected humility, authenticity and transparency. You could sense the spirit of Jesus upon him and through him. That’s how he changed the world
The Stream: When did you have the opportunity to meet Reverend Graham?
Rodriguez: Growing up in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, the two most influential figures in my life were Billy Graham and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Today for me is as personal a loss as one can possibly have.
I met him through the conduit of serving at Christianity Today, the magazine he founded. I have been serving on the board there for nearly a decade and continue to. We spent some time together and it was one of the highlights of my life. His children Franklin Graham and Anne Graham Lotz are ones whom I consider dear friends.
Only 24 hours ago, I was with his granddaughter Cissie Graham Lynch in Jerusalem. I spent the last five days with her in Israel, along with ten other influential evangelical leaders. Cissie and I were talking about Billy, her grandfather. She was relating how, on occasion, he would communicate with her. Those moments with him were a great privilege.
Unifying Force Among Christians
The Stream: There is so much division among Christians today. How did Dr. Graham reflect Christian unity in his ministry?
To see the remainder of this article, click read more.