Billy Graham, is close to ‘going home to be with the Lord’
Evangelist William Franklin Graham IV, known publicly as Will Graham, the grandson of Billy Graham, and son of Franklin Graham, says that at the age of 95, Mr. Graham is close to "going home to be with the Lord."
In an exclusive interview he gave me on Sunday, February 23, 2014, after speaking at a breakfast event sponsored by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association at the Annual NRB International Christian Media Convention and Exposition at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel in Nashville, Will shared the latest news about his world famous grandfather, reports Dan Wooding, Founder of ASSIST Ministries.
“My grandfather’s 95-years-old and the best way to describe him right now is that he’s just old. There’s nothing wrong with him, except that he’s just old,” said Will who is recently back from preaching to some 33,100 people in Moratuwa, Sri Lanka, during a three-day “Celebration of Grace with Will Graham,” that was held Feb. 7-9 at the Moratumulla Methodist Church Grounds. In response to Graham’s invitation, a total of 6,819 people crowded in front of the stage and made a commitment to Christ, something that Billy Graham would have been so proud to have learned about.
“He’s doing okay, and he has good days and bad days. Unfortunately he’s had a lot of bad days especially right after his birthday in November but recently he’s gotten just a little bit stronger but he’s still plugging away. He’s very weak now. I think God’s just in the process of taking him from this world into eternity, and it’s a process and he’s in the middle of it, but he’s ok right now.”
Will, who was born January 30, 1975, went to say that despite his advanced age, Mr. Graham can still walk around his modest home located on a mountain top in Montreat, North Carolina, and when he goes out, he “still eats and talks to people and stuff like that, but he’s just old.”
I then asked Will if he modeled Mr. Graham’s preaching style, and he surprisingly replied, “No, when I preach, it’s just what God gives me, so I don’t follow my granddaddy’s mannerisms. However, when you come from the same area - North Carolina - we talk the same; we have the same gestures, and also, I guess, the same jokes from time to time, but that’s just because it’s a natural. It’s not something I try to cook up myself.”
He then shared his love for his late grandmother, Ruth Bell Graham, a medical missionary's daughter, and Mr. Graham’s wife for 63 years who passed away on June 14, 2007, at the age of 87.
In a previous interview he had revealed, “We called my grandmother ‘TeTe’, which is Chinese for old lady and was a sign of respect in China, where she was born. We called my granddaddy ‘Daddy Bill.’ So to me they were not Ruth or Billy Graham, they were, ‘TeTe’ and ‘Daddy Bill.’ They loved on us just like any normal grandparents with their grandchildren and they were always very gracious, hospitable and patient.”
He explained that Ruth's health had deteriorated over the years and stated, “My grandfather did anything he could to help her, but at the end of the day, there was nothing that he or anybody else could do. Then just by chance her feeding tube had come out and we believe that was God’s way of saying, ‘It’s time to come home,’ so we as a family, and she too, decided she had been looking for heaven for a long time. By now she couldn’t eat on her own and so we decided that every family member would come in to just say ‘goodbye’ and love with her. She was very lucid till the day she went home to be with the Lord.”
Will then recalled the rather unusual final words his grandmother said to him.
“The last thing she told me was actually somewhat kind of funny,” he said. “It was probably about four days before she died and she said, “Don’t shoot my animals.” The reason for this was I’m a hunter and her place was like a sanctuary for animals and she was afraid that when she left, I would go hunting. She got the last word in.
“To this day people say, ‘Well that’s not real spiritual,’ but for me it’s a memory that goes beyond not just the words. I know what she meant and that was my grandmother who always had wit and she was very spunky and I loved her dearly. So they were really great fitting words for a grandson like me.”
In this latest interview, he added, “You would think she would have said something like ‘Love your wife’ or ‘Read the Bible, preach hard and serve the Lord,’ but instead she said, ‘Don’t shoot my animals.’ She knew me and that’s why she said it.” With that, he let out a huge laugh.
I concluded by asking Will how people could pray for him, and he replied, “Just be praying for me as I preach the Gospel; that God would use me to reach the hearts of the people, not with my words, but with the Gospel as that’s what penetrates hearts. Please also pray that He help me to do it effectively. I don’t want anything in my life to hinder the Gospel. I also ask for God’s protection around me.”
Will is the third generation of Grahams to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ under the banner of the BGEA. In 2012, Will was named vice president of the BGEA, overseeing Children and Youth Evangelism Training. He also serves as executive director of the Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove in Asheville, N.C. You can follow Will on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/WillGraham4 and on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/TellaGraham.