“[We are] infatuated with this false understanding of tolerance. To be truly tolerant is not to give every idea equal standing or to compromise the truth in the interest of keeping the peace.”
Franklin Graham has devoted his life to meeting the needs of people around the world and proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The eldest son of Billy and Ruth Bell Graham, he has served as President and CEO of Samaritan’s Purse since 1979 and as President and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) since 2001.
Under his leadership, Samaritan’s Purse has met the needs of poor, sick, and suffering people in more than 100 countries. As an evangelist, he has led crusades around the world, starting with his first event in 1989. To date, he has preached to more than 8.1 million people as far afield as Japan and South Africa.
He has met privately with five US Presidents as well as world leaders from Europe, Africa, Asia and Latin America, and yet tries to live as simple a life as possible. Raised in a log home in the Appalachian Mountains in North Carolina, Franklin now lives in the mountains of North Carolina with his wife Jane. The couple have four children and ten grandchildren.
He was born into a heritage rich in Christian ministry. By the time of Franklin’s birth, Billy Graham was already known around the world as a spiritual leader, but he wasn’t the only spiritual giant in the family. Franklin’s maternal grandfather, Lemuel Nelson Bell, was a medical missionary to China for more than 20 years, a respected moderator of his denomination, the Presbyterian Church in America, and a co-founder and executive editor of Christianity Today, an American Christian magazine.
At age 22, after a period of rebellion and travelling the world, Franklin committed his life to Jesus Christ while alone in a hotel room in Jerusalem. Soon after that, Dr. Bob Pierce, founder of Samaritan’s Purse (and World Vision), invited Franklin to join him on a six-week mission to Asia. It was during that time that Franklin felt a burden to work with hurting people in areas of the world affected by war, famine, disease, and natural disasters; in his word: “I’ve been called to the slums of the streets and the ditches of the world.”
While his overt purpose when working in disaster zones is that of humanitarian aid, when questioned by the secular media, Franklin is clear about his true intentions: “I believe as we work, God will always give us opportunities to tell others about His Son… We are there to reach out to love them and to save them, and as a Christian, I do this in the Name of Jesus Christ.”
In his role as head of BGEA, Franklin Graham has ushered his father’s 65-year-old ministry into the digital age. Through billygraham.org, social media and web streaming, God is using BGEA to reach places Billy Graham could never visit personally, including many parts of the Middle East.
Recently, BGEA reached its 6 millionth person for Christ through the Internet evangelism ministry ‘Search for Jesus,’ founded in 2011. The 6 millionth decision came from the country of Jordan at 7:04 p.m.
Even as God continues to use the Graham family to take the Gospel around the world, Franklin Graham is deeply troubled by the rise of godlessness and immorality in the United States. Last week, Franklin announced he’ll embark on a 50-state tour of the US in 2016, sharing the message of Jesus and calling Christians to boldly live out their faith.
“I’ve lived long enough to learn that…no political party or politician is the answer. The only hope for this country is Almighty God and His Son Jesus Christ.”
The Decision America Tour will take the Gospel from Alaska to Alabama, as Franklin Graham challenges Christians to pray for that nation and its leaders, run for office and vote for candidates who will uphold Biblical values. [The American elections take place in November 2016, and unfortunately it appears that Hillary Clinton is dominating the political race to the Oval Office – unless Christians pray, and the Republicans come up with a stellar media campaign to promote their candidates, namely Christian junior senator, Marco Rubio].
No stranger to the hostile secular media, or the critics of Christianity, Franklin came under criticism for comments he made about Islam in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks when he referred to Islam as “a very evil and wicked religion.” Further criticism came in 2003, when he preached at a Good Friday service at the Pentagon and made controversial remarks against Islam saying “True Islam cannot be practiced in this country [in regards to upholding Shariah Law].”
On August 19, 2010, when asked by CNN correspondent John King if he had doubts that President Barack Obama is a Christian, Graham stated, “I think the president’s problem is that he was born a Muslim, his father was a Muslim. The seed of Islam is passed through the father like the seed of Judaism is passed through the mother. He was born a Muslim, his father gave him an Islamic name.” In subsequent interviews and speeches, though he has tried to be somewhat diplomatic in his reproach for Obama, Franklin has often been met with the ire of more liberal Christian leaders, who deem it inappropriate for Franklin to question Obama’s faith. Unwavering in his convictions though, Franklin has often verbalised what many evangelicals think about the current US President. Not withstanding merited concern over Obama’s blatantly unbiblical policies.
In 2012 as the debate over the legalisation of same-sex marriage in states around America heated up, Franklin took a public stand for truth. Resisting the political pressure of other religious leaders (to keep quiet), Franklin said this: “President Obama has, in my view, shaken his fist at the same God who created and defined marriage. It grieves me that our president would now affirm same-sex marriage, though I believe it grieves God even more.”
This damning statement saw Franklin become persona-non-grata in the White House and very definitely set him apart from his father’s more diplomatic political approach decades prior. But, Franklin is not too concerned…” I’ve never really been one to try to be politically correct. I just feel truth is truth, and sometimes I probably offend some people.”
Earlier this year, a huge firestorm erupted when several Christian churches around America, and specifically the National Cathedral in Washington, hosted “inter-faith” services with Muslims and allowed them to pray to Allah in the churches. Franklin was one of the few Christian leaders who spoke out strongly against these initiatives and because of his boldness and commitment to the truth, has been largely recognised by Bible-believing Christians to be the best spokesperson for true Church in the USA and elsewhere.
When a historically Christian institution, Duke University, planned to have an amplified Muslim call to prayer played each Friday from the top of its campus clock tower, Franklin mobilised his 1,3 million Facebook followers to sign a petition. The campaign which garnered more than 70 000 ‘Likes’ on Facebook, called on the university to cancel the call to prayer and lobbied alumni to boycott the school if they did not. Thankfully, it was successful and Duke scrapped its plans.
Recently voted the most influential leader of all Christians in America by a newsmax poll, it seems that Franklin Graham has stepped into a new, very critical role – that of a voice for the voiceless. As the persecution of Christians rips through the Middle East, North Africa and Asia, Franklin is taking the mic and urging the world’s leaders and media to intervene.
Even in America, where daily he sees the legal onslaught against Christians trying to live by their convictions, Franklin is boldly stepping forward to help. Not just as a mouthpiece for truth, but also an agent of practical assistance.
Through Samaritan’s Purse, Franklin has set up funding campaigns for people to support individuals like Aaron Klein, the bakery owner who refused to make a wedding cake for a lesbian couple, and now has to pay $135,000 in damages for “emotional suffering”
There is no doubt that the Lord has clearly set Franklin Graham up in a position of incredible influence for such a time as this. As Christians are being beheaded in Libya, the blood of the martyrs cries out…who will stand? Who will speak? Who will go?
We thank God for leaders like Franklin Graham, and we pray for him to continue the path set before him in humility, wisdom and a courageous commitment to the truth.
“Whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies – in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To Him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” 1 Peter 4:11.
By Jackie Georgiou