This article originally appeared on my Newsmax column.
This week, the nation continues to mourn the passing of “America’s Pastor,” Billy Graham. For over 60 years, Graham turned the hearts and minds of the world upside down as he spread the love of Jesus Christ around the globe. Graham had an innate ability to bring folks together in mutual affection and hunger for a greater purpose — an ability severely lacking in today’s culture of hatred and partisanship. In order to ever ease the tension that divides our communities, we need a leader to rally behind, a leader who will wake us from our hazy slumber and point us to the truth.
Beginning in 1947, Reverend Graham travelled the nation and eventually the world to preach the Gospel to nearly 215 million people through his famed crusades. At the end of every sermon, he invited each one to “come forward” and commit their lives to Christ. He offered a chance at redemption, hope, and a life free from frustration and bewilderment — a life dedicated to Jesus Christ. His only agenda was Christ’s, and he ministered to people of all backgrounds, beliefs, and status — from North Carolina farmers to United States presidents.
Graham ministered to presidents from Truman to Obama, often becoming their confidante and spiritual guide. However, being friends with the leader of the free world doesn’t always come easy. Graham was often criticized for his close relationship with Nixon, even through the Watergate scandal, but Graham continued to maintain that he and Nixon were equally sinners. Presidents realized they could trust him and often opened up to him about their most personal struggles, from the office to their families. His reach extended even beyond American leaders. In 1992, North Korean leader Kim Il Sung invited Graham to preach in Pyongyang’s officially sanctioned churches. Graham fostered a friendly relationship with the dictator and would even return to the communist regime as an unofficial American envoy. Graham’s reach was truly unprecedented and perhaps a telling result of the universal message that he preached.
In the nation’s darkest hours, Graham was continually called upon to lead. In the midst of the strife and hatred that plagued the nation during the civil rights movement, America’s pastor called on Christians to lead the charge for change. Graham integrated his crusades in 1957, and was praised by Dr. Martin Luther King, who wrote, “You have courageously brought the Christian gospel to bear on the question of race.” In the wake of the terrorist attacks on September 11th, 2001, Graham was invited to the National Cathedral to unite a grieving country in prayer. No matter the challenge, Billy Graham knew just what the nation needed to come together, and we all looked to him for a sign of comfort and peace.
As our nation again becomes increasingly polarized, who will we look to for that comfort and peace? When our world inevitably comes crashing down, who can we turn to, to lead us into the light? Graham did not speak for a particular church, a particular party, or a particular people, but his familiarity gave us peace, his words gave us hope, and his message brought us life. Today, our leaders are just as polarized as we are, and even our spiritual leaders often find themselves touting a particular agenda. America — and the world — needs another Billy Graham, someone who can strengthen our faith in the Almighty, deepen our love for our fellow man and unite us around a greater purpose.
Special thanks to Daniel Bruce, a member of my staff, for his help in writing, researching, and editing this article. Daniel is studying Political Science and Economics at Auburn University and plans to attend law school after graduating. He also is a regular contributor to Rouser News in D.C.