BRANSON, Mo. — The man who was deemed by many as the most influential evangelist in the world, Billy Graham, passed away yesterday morning at his home in Montreat, North Carolina. Graham, who filled stadiums and counseled presidents for more than 60 years, was 99.
Two leaders of Missouri Christian universities spoke out about Dr. Graham and his worldwide appeal.
One of the most notable aspects of Graham’s ministry, apart from his ability to influence so many people with the gospel, was his influence on many heads of state over the years.
College of the Ozarks President Dr. Jerry C. Davis described the characteristics Graham possessed that proved to carry influence with U.S. Presidents.
“A very humble person. I just think he had a disarming appeal if you will,” said Davis. “And that was very effective. He was also non-partisan. I never felt like he was advocating any particular party line.”
College of the Ozarks is in southwest Missouri’s Branson.
Retired President Dr. Robert H. Spence of Evangel University in Springfield said Graham was a stabilizing presence for presidents during times of global unrest.
“He attained that unique and I might even say unenviable role of being the person that the nation seemed to look for and look to in a moment of crisis or some kind of unsettling event,” said Spence. He just seemed to be that stable and spiritual voice in an hour like that.”
Dr. Spence says that over the years Graham evolved into a personal counselor for Presidents such as Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.
“As time went on, those other men that followed saw him as a person that it was to their advantage to be seen with him and to have him in for conversations. You may remember when they had that memorial service at the Washington Cathedral after 9-1-1…that Mr. Graham was the speaker for that,” said Spence.
Dr. Davis said Graham’s appeal was universal.
“He could talk to anybody,” Dr. Davis said. “He would be just as comfortable talking to a factory worker as he would be a president or prime minister.”
Both Davis and Spence agreed that Dr. Graham’s reputation opened doors for him to counsel influential leaders across the world.
Chrystal Blair of Missourinet media partner KOLR-TV provided the content for this story