Renowned Bible preacher remembered

File photo dated 17/05/82 of US evangelist Billy Graham, who died at his home in North Carolina at the age of 99
File photo dated 17/05/82 of US evangelist Billy Graham, who died at his home in North Carolina at the age of 99

Billy Graham’s children have paid tribute to “America’s Pastor” as the famous preacher was laid to rest at the family home in North Carolina.

His adult children – all speakers or preachers in their own right – recalled being taught by their parents how to read scripture aloud and deliver sermons, but also taking quiet walks with their father and feeling his embrace even when they made mistakes.

The casket of the Rev Billy Graham is moved during a funeral service at the Billy Graham Library on Friday, March 2, 2018

The casket of the Rev Billy Graham is moved during a funeral service at the Billy Graham Library on Friday, March 2, 2018

His oldest son, Franklin Graham, who delivered the main funeral message, said all of those qualities were part of the whole.

“The Billy Graham that the world saw on television, the Billy Graham that the world saw in the big stadiums, was the same Billy Graham that we saw at home. There weren’t two Billy Grahams,” he said.

“He loved his family. He stood by us. He comforted us.”

Mr Graham’s funeral message, which included a Gospel call to repentance and salvation, followed shorter remarks by his siblings in a service that lasted just over an hour before an invitation-only crowd of about 2,000 people.

The congregation included president Donald Trump, vice president Mike Pence, and their wives. Neither Mr Pence nor Mr Trump spoke during the service.

The funeral planning began a decade ago with Billy Graham himself.

It also reflected his family’s desire to capture the feeling of the crusades that made him the world’s best-known Protestant preacher of his era.

Mr Graham, who died last week aged 99, brought a message of salvation to millions during visits and live broadcasts to scores of countries.

Franklin, now CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, wrapped up with his father’s central theme – that the only path to salvation is to accept Jesus Christ.

In his invitation to be saved by Jesus, he said: “The world, with all of its political correctness, would want you to believe that there are many roads to God. It’s just not true.”

On Wednesday, Mr Graham became the first private citizen since civil rights icon Rosa Parks in 2005 to lie in honour at the Capitol Rotunda in Washington.

Mr Graham was being buried next to his wife in a memorial prayer garden at the Billy Graham Library.

His grave marker reads: “Preacher of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.”