‘A Prophet with Honor’

BY Bill Reagan

The Reverend Doctor Billy Graham has died. He and Pope John Paul II were, without doubt the towering religious figures of the twentieth century, and among the great religious leaders of all ages.

St. Paul made the message of Christ comprehensible to the Greek world, and so our modern world. St. Augustine gave us the classic example of the devotional richness of the Christian faith. St. Francis demonstrated the power of poverty for spiritual renewal. Martin Luther brought the church back to Gospel of justification by faith.

Billy Graham simply told us about Jesus. No other human being has reached as many people with the message of the Gospel as Billy Graham. He preached in person to 70 million people, through his television ministry to more than 200 million.

He was, of course, a sinner like you and me, and he did and said things that he shouldn’t have. However, his life was never tainted by sexual misconduct, never a financial scandal. He and his ministry prospered, but The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association never profited from the prosperity gospel so many televangelists preach today.

The definitive biography of Billy Graham, A Prophet with Honor, was written by William Martin. The title pretty well sums it up. We honor him because he was honorable. He is one of only four American to lie in honor in the Capitol Rotunda.

Billy Graham understood that he was simply a flawed human being like anyone else, called by God to serve Him.

There are thousands of men and women just like Dr. Graham around the world, pastors of churches large and small, missionaries toiling day after day in difficult and sometimes dangerous circumstances, all just doing their best to share the message of Jesus.

He may have been the exception as a televangelist, but in no way was Billy Graham the exception among the everyday pastors, sisters, priests, deacons and elders who serve our churches. Flawed, yes, but forgiven. Humble human beings doing the best they can to serve God and to serve you.

Bill Reagan is executive director of Loaves & Fishes of the Rio Grande Valley.