To honor Billy Graham, live by his example

To honor Billy Graham, live by his example

It isn’t often that an individual can claim they changed the lives of millions of people.  Most never have the opportunity to do so.  Many choose to turn such opportunities away.  But those who are presented with the opportunity and take it are truly special.  They are faced with the great responsibility of using the chance before them to do good.  One such individual passed away last month. 

Reverend Billy Graham was a man of humility, wisdom, and compassion.  He dedicated his life to making a positive impact on the lives of others and to honoring the God he worshipped.  Never again will we see the like of a man who took the idea of practicing what he preached to heart.  In many ways, we can all learn from the extraordinary life of the Reverend; honoring his memory by taking advantage of the gifts and the courage within all of us in order to make a difference.

Born on a farm outside Charlotte, North Carolina in 1918, America’s Pastor came from humble beginnings.  Much like the members of my family born in the same region and era, he learned in those days not to take anything for granted and that hard work gets you a long way.  As a teenager, Graham made the decision to dedicate his life to Christ and all that it entailed.  His strength of conviction was striking for such a young man. 

After graduating from the Florida Bible Institute, Graham began his public ministry.  Over and over again, he was told that he had a powerful speaking voice and that that voice could achieve great things.  Sure enough, the Reverend’s sermons began to bring in more and more people.  His message tugged at the very souls of those who heard him, calling them to examine themselves and how they could accept Christ into their lives.  

However, when faced with this success, Reverend Graham did not take time to rest on his laurels.  He saw that he could take his uplifting message of God’s love and forgiveness to a larger audience.  It was his deepest desire to reach as many people with the good news of Christ as he could.  So he began to travel the country. 

As he preached in city after city, Graham’s audience went from thousands to millions.  The Gospel he preached brought joy and hope to an entire generation of born-again Christians.  The very sound of his thundering voice moved people to applause, tears, and to make the life-changing decision to give their lives to God.  Graham was pleased that he was able to bring the salvation of Christ to such a vast number of Americans.  But there was something else that troubled the Reverend. 

While it was clear that the people of the United States had found love for Christ, there were many who had not found love for one another.  Racial segregation plagued our great nation, and Billy Graham took it upon himself to do something about it.  He invited civil rights leader, Martin Luther King Jr. to preach with him at his revival at Madison Square Garden in 1957.  He took down racial barriers at his sermons and preached that there was no room for hatred in hearts that accepted Christ.  

The call to service was ever-present in the Reverend’s life, compelling him to provide spiritual guidance to many world leaders, including every United States President from Harry S. Truman to Barack Obama.  Regardless of the political party of the man in the Oval Office, Graham believed it necessary to aid the leader of the free world in any way he could.  Never did he use the White House to bring attention to himself nor did he criticize the policy decisions of any president, a true testament to his selflessness. 

The Reverend once told his audience “Live each day as if it were your last, for some day it will be.”  Who, if not Billy Graham, lived up to this creed in every way?  It is in this way that each of us can strive to be more like this good and faithful servant.  We must live by his example and treat every day as if it were our last.  Imagine the world we’d live in if each person took up a cross the way Reverend Graham did; giving fully of ourselves and asking nothing in return.  We can honor his memory by reflecting his courage, strength of conviction, and selfless dedication to others.  

Doing so does not necessarily mean taking up the cause of spreading the Gospel.  There are many ways we can all positively impact the lives of others.  But no matter the medium, if we choose to live the way America’s Pastor did, we too will find ourselves changing the lives of those around us.  

Jack Kitchin is a sophomore majoring in political science. His column runs biweekly. 

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