JERUSALEM — Dr. Robert Jeffress, the senior pastor of First Baptist Dallas, releases the following statement celebrating the home going of Billy Graham, who died Wednesday at the age of 99:
“I was heartbroken to hear of the passing of Billy Graham, but glad for him because he’s finally where he longed to be: home in heaven. Like Billy, I know that the moment he closed his eyes in death, he awoke in the presence of the God he served so faithfully, and I’m convinced he heard these words, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.’
“When I think of Billy Graham and his life, four things immediately come to mind. First, next to the apostle Paul, Billy Graham was the greatest evangelist the world has ever known. He preached the gospel message in a way that anyone could comprehend it, and millions of people around the world were converted through his ministry. Think of the incomparable value of one soul — now multiply that value millions upon millions of times. That’s the impact of Billy Graham.
“Second, I think of the impact Billy Graham had on First Baptist Dallas, on my family and on me. Billy Graham was a member of our First Baptist Church Dallas for more than 50 years until he joined a church close to his home several years ago. In fact, my mother joined First Baptist Dallas the same day Billy Graham did back in the 1950s. She said to my father, “If it’s good enough for Billy Graham, it is good enough for me.” She was saved at a Billy Graham crusade in 1954 at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas before I was born. Simply put, I am a Christian today and pastor of First Baptist Dallas because of Billy Graham.
“Third, I think of Billy Graham’s unfeigned and boundless love for people. Once, when he was preaching at First Baptist Dallas, I told him before the service that my barber and his family were attending, and I had been praying that they would all become Christians. I asked Dr. Graham if he would write them a note before the service began. He wrote a brief note on a card to my barber that said, “I’m praying for you tonight to become a Christian. Billy Graham.” When Dr. Graham extended the invitation that night, my barber and his family were the first to come down the aisle.
“Fourth, I think of the example Billy Graham set for integrity over the long haul. Unlike many other celebrity evangelists, he was never involved or even charged with any moral or financial misdeeds. He was beyond reproach which is one reason God used him in such an unusual way.
“When journalists ask me what Billy Graham would say to those who have heard the news of his passing, I tell them that I know for sure what he would say for the message of his life was the message of John 3:16, ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.’”
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Dr. Robert Jeffress is a best-selling author of 24 books, a nationally and internationally syndicated TV and radio host and the senior pastor of First Baptist Dallas, one of the largest and most influential churches in America. Pathway to Victory, Dr. Jeffress’ broadcast ministry, airs daily nationwide on more than 900 radio stations and is broadcast live to 195 countries. His latest book, “A Place Called Heaven: 10 Surprising Truths About Your Eternal Home,” is available in bookstores everywhere. He is an evangelical adviser to the president of the United States, Donald J. Trump.