The Rev. Billy Graham, counselor to presidents and God’s great gift to the world for a century, has left this mortal earth. We know where he has gone. Graham often said, “I’m just passing through … the moment we take our last breath on earth, we take our first breath in heaven.”

His charismatic son, Franklin Graham, whom I met last year in Augusta’s Capitol Park during a get-out-the-national-vote crusade, said on the day of his dad’s death, “My father has joined my mother in heaven, he went to sleep at his home … and woke up in the arms of Jesus. He is now celebrating the eternal life he spent over 70 years telling millions of people about.”

During his lifetime Graham met with 13 presidents and became known as the “pastor to presidents.” Graham brought evangelical Christianity into the mainstream of America and became spiritual adviser to the White House. “Each one I’ve known long before they ever became president, been in their homes many times; always called them by their first names, until they became president,” Graham said. Graham was known to be especially friendly to Dwight D. Eisenhower, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, and both Bushes. Bill Clinton sought his guidance during his sex scandal. George W. Bush said Graham helped him to quit drinking alcohol, and said if it wasn’t for Billy Graham, “I wouldn’t be president.”

Each of the men living who have held the highest office offered words on Graham’s passing.

President Donald Trump said of Graham, “He was one of the towering figures of the last 100 years — an American hero whose life and leadership truly earned him the title ‘God’s Ambassador.’ Billy’s unshakeable belief in the power of God’s word to transform hearts gave hope to all who listened to his simple message: ‘God loves you.’ He carried his message throughout the world with his crusades, bringing entire generations to faith in Jesus Christ. In the wake of the September 11th attacks in 2001, America turned to Billy Graham at the National Cathedral, who told us, ‘God can be trusted, even when life seems at its darkest.'”

President Barack Obama said “Billy Graham was a humble servant who prayed for so many — and who, with wisdom and grace, gave hope and guidance to generations of Americans.” Clinton said, “Billy has finished his long good race, leaving our world a better place and claiming his place in glory.”

George W. Bush said, “Billy Graham was a consequential leader … his love for Christ and his gentle soul helped open hearts to the Word, including mine.”

George H.W. Bush said, “Billy Graham was America’s pastor. His faith in Christ and his totally honest evangelical spirit inspired people across the country and around the world.”

Jimmy Carter said, “Tirelessly, he shaped the spiritual lives of tens of millions of people worldwide. Broad-minded, forgiving, and humble in the treatment of others he exemplified the life of Jesus Christ by constantly reaching out for opportunities to serve.”

Billy Graham’s Crusades became known throughout the world, as he preached to more than 210 million people in 185 countries. In the 1970s, Graham preached to 1 million people in Seoul, South Korea. At age 86, Graham conducted his final crusade on the weekend of June 25, 2005, in New York City.

As I researched the life and times of the Rev. Billy Graham, I searched for his poignant quotes relevant to this critical time in our nation:

“The Bible says that as long as we are here on Earth, we are strangers in a foreign land. There are enemies to be conquered before we return home. The world is not our home, our citizenship is in heaven.”

“Some of you today are going through heartache and grief so intense that you wonder if it will ever go away. But, I want to tell you that our God cares for you and your family and your city. For God loves you and he shares in your suffering.”

And, two quotes perhaps left behind as a blueprint for the nation’s salvation: “We’ve always needed God from the very beginning of our nation, but today we need him especially. We’re facing a new kind of enemy, we’re involved in a new kind of warfare, and we need the help of the spirit of God.”

And, “We are a society poised on the bring of self-destruction. But what is the real cause? What is the problem? The problem is within ourselves.”

Thank you, Billy Graham. Life and hope remain eternal, the world will never forget you.

Don Roberts is a veteran broadcaster, writer and political consultant. He has served Augusta as a city councilor at-large, charter commission vice chairman and utilities district treasurer.

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