Billy Graham , the US Evangelist dies at 99

Once dubbed God’s Ambassador, Billy Graham went to the four corners of the world with his evangelical mission.

His soft-spoken Southern style was in direct contrast to the fire and brimstone adopted by so many evangelical preachers.

Over six decades, he preached personally to an estimated 210 million people in 185 countries and reached hundreds of millions more through his radio and television ministry.

His early audiences were predominantly white, middle-class and conservative.

But, as the civil rights movement gained momentum, he began to preach against segregation and formed a sometimes strained friendship with Martin Luther King.

William Franklin Graham Jr was born on 7 November 1918 and brought up on the family dairy farm in Charlotte, North Carolina.

His parents were members of the conservative Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church.

When Prohibition ended in 1933, his father forced him to drink beer until he was sick to persuade him of the dangers of alcohol. He remained a teetotaller throughout his life.

He made a commitment to Christ when he was 16 after hearing Mordecai Ham, a travelling evangelist, and he was ordained a minister in 1939.

His plan to serve as an army chaplain during World War Two ended when he contracted mumps. Instead he studied at the Florida Bible Institute and in 1943, married Ruth McCue Bell.

He became a full-time evangelist with Youth for Christ, an organisation that ministered to young people and service personnel.

By Africafrique and agencies

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