Is Rev. Billy Graham alive or dead

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This content was published on February 21, 2018 - 16:42 (Keystone-SDA)

He was the advisor to numerous US presidents and one of the most influential Christian preachers in the world: The evangelical US pastor Billy Graham is dead. The 99-year-old died in his home in the US state of North Carolina.

This was reported by his family in the US media on Wednesday. The charismatic preacher had spread his message through mass events, television, and the Internet for decades. US President Donald Trump praised him as a "very special man".

With Graham, the US loses one of its most admired characters. "There was no one like him!" wrote Trump in the short message service Twitter. Graham would be "missed by Christians and all religions".

"Machine gun of god"

The preacher, known as the "machine gun of God" because of his passionate speaking style, was not only worshiped by conservatives. He was in contact with all US presidents from Harry Truman to Barack Obama. Former US President George W. Bush attributed it to the influence of Graham that he overcame his alcoholism and "found the way to God".

In the past few years, however, it had become quiet about Graham. Because of his increasing frailty, he lived in seclusion in his home state of North Carolina. Prior to that, he had been a tireless missionary for over six decades - not just in the United States, but around the world. Graham traveled to China and the former Soviet Union - and twice to North Korea in the 1990s.

Awakening experience at 16

Graham grew up on a farm and, according to his own account, had a religious awakening experience at the age of 16. He then studied at the Florida Bible Institute and first became a Baptist minister. But living and preaching in a parish was not enough for him, he wanted to reach a larger audience.

In the late 1940s, Graham began preaching on his own as an evangelical preacher in tents. In the following years it reached a mass audience. In 1957 he preached for 16 weeks in New York's Madison Square Garden, according to the Billy Graham Library, a total of around 2.4 million attended these mass worship services in the arena of the east coast metropolis.

Founder of the TV sermon

Graham also spread his messages on radio and television from an early age - he is the founder of the TV preaching genre. He was not a fanatical fundamentalist like other evangelical preachers. In the 1950s, for example, he refused to spatially separate whites and blacks in his audience - which is why he is said to have had an impact on the end of racial segregation in the southern United States.

Graham was also extremely active as a writer - he authored 31 books, most of which have been translated into several other languages. He was married to his wife Ruth Bell Graham, who died in 2007, for almost 64 years, and the marriage resulted in five children. One of his sons, Franklin Graham, followed in his father's footsteps and also became a famous evangelical preacher.

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