The U.S. House of Representatives honored the life and legacy of famed evangelist Billy Graham Tuesday evening after he passed away last week at age 99.
Several members of Congress spent an entire hour giving speeches to celebrate the life of the man many called “America’s Pastor.”
“Billy Graham was a lion of the Christian faith and a believer in the all-encompassing love of God for all people,” said U.S. Rep. Randy Hultgren (R-IL), who hosted the special hour.
“I remember way back in 1971. I was 5-years-old. My mom and dad brought me down to McCormick Place down in downtown Chicago to be apart of the Billy Graham Crusade,” he recalled. “I was a little 5-year-old boy, but I still remember that night. I remember the power of the message. I remember the power of this messenger of God sharing his love for us. But also the truth of the love that Jesus had for us.”
Other lawmakers also remembered the deep impact Graham had on their life.
“I had the opportunity to meet Dr. Graham a few feet from here several years ago at one the presidential inaugurations. While I had that chance to meet him that one time, you felt like you knew him,” said U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-AL). “He was very clear in how he presented the gospel and he will be greatly missed by a world that desperately needs more people like Billy Graham.”
“I remember the first live crusade I went to. Billy Graham was there in the 1980’s. As a young pastor, a pastor for 20 years, I had the opportunity to meet him. As a young pastor, he signed a Bible for me, which today remains a treasure,” added U.S. Rep. Jody Hice (R-AL)
Graham was also remembered for the great strides he made during the Civil Rights movement.
“A lot of people don’t realize the close relationship he had with Martin Luther King Jr.,” noted U.S. Rep. Barry Loudermilik (R-GA). “In the 1950s, when Billy Graham came to the south and he was going to preach at one of the crusades, he noticed there was a rope running through the middle of the congregation. A rope that separated whites from blacks. He was so offended he went and asked that the rope be removed. When the ushers refused to do it, Billy Graham went and move the rope himself.”
While much of the hour was spent honoring Graham’s life, the true emphasis was on the gospel message for which he devoted his life.
“What we don’t need to forget is the message of scripture. The Message of God. The message that talks about our condition. That we are sinful and separated from God,” Hice shared.
“That we have committed things that separate us eternally unless they are dealt with. And that gospel message from the scripture that Billy Graham so eloquently shared was that God loves us and gave his Son to die in our stead,” he continued.
Hultgren ended the special hour the same way Graham ended his crusades — with a call to repentance and offer of salvation.
“Many people remember from the Billy Graham Crusades the closing of those crusades were led with a call for people to come forward, but also with an amazing hymn, ‘Just as I am’:
Just as I am, without one plea,
But that Thy blood was shed for me,
And that Thou bid’st me come to Thee,
O Lamb of God, I come! I come!‘”
Graham will lie in the Capitol Rotunda Wednesday morning, an honor reserved only for those who have left the most impact on American culture. He is the first civilian to be so honored since civil rights warrior Rosa Parks in 2005.