Evangelist Billy Graham, who died Wednesday at the age of 99, is “finally home,” Pastor Robert Jeffress, leader of the 13,000-member First Baptist Church in Dallas, said as news of the legendary minister’s death broke.
“I’m heartbroken for us, but happy for Billy,” Jeffress, a fellow Southern Baptist minister, told Fox News’ “Fox & Friends” in a telephone interview from Jerusalem Wednesday morning. “He is finally home where he always wanted to be.”
Many people didn’t know, he added, but Graham had been a member of Jeffress’ church in Dallas for 54 years before he joined a smaller church near his own home in North Carolina.
“Millions are Christians because of Billy Graham, including my own mom, who was saved at the Cotton Bowl crusade in 1954,” said Jeffress.
“In many ways, this is very personal. I’m a Christian in many ways because of Billy Graham. Never have been a greater evangelist since the apostle Paul than Billy Graham. He never had a single scandal. He had a tremendous ministry. I’ll miss him greatly.”
Jeffress said he spoke with Graham’s son, the Rev. Franklin Graham, just a few weeks ago about his father, and they were talking about how the elder minister had a “natural gift that God gave him to proclaim the gospel,” and that he had “supernatural power upon him as well.”
“Many people don’t know this, but back in the 1950s, Paramount Pictures offered him $1 million if he would leave the ministry and sign an acting contract,’ said Jeffress. “He refused to do it because he knew God’s call on his life was to preach the gospel, so I think that it was a calling he had that really was the key for his effectiveness.”
Jeffress said that after he became pastor of his church in Dallas, he had the opportunity to speak with Graham in his later years.
“He was an intensely humble man,” said Jeffress. “He loved the Lord and would do anything to see people come to Christ.”
Jeffress said he never had Graham in an audience when he was preaching himself, and he is “not sure I could have stood up to that.”
Jeffress said Graham talked about and wrote about heaven, and he believed that the moment he died, he would awake in the presence of Christ.
“I think the first words Billy Graham heard were, well done, good and faithful servant,” said Jeffress.
Jeffress also noted that Graham was above politics, and had absolutely no hint of scandal in his life.
“You know, we talked about Vice President Mike Pence who adopted the Billy Graham rule of not being alone with women who were not his wife,” said Jeffress. “That says a lot. He went through without any moral or financial scandal during his decades of ministry.”
Read more at Pastor Jeffress: Billy Graham Is ‘Finally Home’ Again.