Billy Graham laid to rest and 'in the presence of God'


Reverend George Battles Jr. delivers the benediction during the funeral of Reverend Dr. Billy Graham in Charlotte, North Carolina.Image copyright
AFP

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Thousands attended the service in Mr Graham’s native Charlotte

More than 2,000 mourners, including President Donald Trump, have attended the funeral of evangelical preacher Billy Graham in North Carolina.

Mr Graham, who preached to millions in person and through mass media televangelism, was being laid to rest at his Charlotte home.

He was due to buried next to his wife Ruth, who died in 2007.

His son Franklin told the assembly: “My father’s greatest longing has been granted. He’s in the presence of God.”

Following his death at the age of 99, Mr Graham became the fourth private citizen in US history to lie in repose in the United States Capitol building, where President Trump paid tribute to him as “an ambassador for Christ who reminded the world of the power of prayer and the gift of God’s grace.”

The President and Vice-President Mike Pence both attended the funeral service alongside their wives, but did not speak at the service.

Image copyright
AFP

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Both the President and Vice-President were in attendance

The funeral was held under an enormous white tent built to resemble Mr Graham’s famous “canvas cathedral” – two giant circus tents erected by the preacher in Los Angeles in 1949 which helped to build his name.

Mr Graham’s simple pine casket was built by inmates at a Louisiana prison, and will be buried next to his wife near the Billy Graham Library on the family’s property in Charlotte.

His headstone, media reports say, will be inscribed with: “Preacher of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ” at his own request.

It will also refer to John 14:6 of the Christian bible, which reads: “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.’

Image copyright
AFP

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The famous preacher is to be buried on his family’s estate near his library

Franklin Graham, speaking at the service, told the congregation that his father was genuine in his media appearances.

“The Billy Graham that the world saw on TV, and in the big stadiums, is the same Billy Graham we saw at home. There weren’t two Billy Grahams,” local newspaper the Charlotte Observer quoted him as saying.

He also said his father was a true believer in the Bible, saying: “He didn’t understand it all, but he sure believed it all.”

Image copyright
AFP

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Rev George Battles Jr delivers the closing prayer – on schedule, according to media reports

Billy Graham’s daughter, Anne Graham Lotz, added that she believed her father’s death had an important meaning.

“I believe this is a shot across the bow from heaven,” AFP quoted her as saying.

“And I believe God is saying, ‘Wake up church. Wake up world. Wake up Anne. Jesus is coming.'”



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