Tag Archives: Will Graham

Happy Birthday Billy Graham

By Will Graham

Everywhere I go, people ask me about my grandfather and how he’s doing. As we celebrate his 94th birthday today, you may be asking the same thing. Well, I’m really pleased to tell you that he’s doing very well, especially for someone who has spent so many years on the road and accomplished so much in his lifetime. He misses my grandmother dearly, and looks forward to the day when he gets to go home to Heaven, but he also understands that God still has him here on this earth for a reason.

The other question I often get – usually right after people ask how he’s doing – is “What’s your grandpa really like?” I have to admit that the question often amuses me a little, as if my grandfather morphs into some sort of other being (for better or worse) when he’s at home away from the cameras and news media.

The truth of the matter is that the Billy Graham that I see when I visit his house is the exact same Billy Graham that you’ve seen on television or in person for decades. There’s only one difference: at home he’s quiet. He doesn’t talk.

When you see him in a television interview, or preaching from the stage, he’s always spreading his message. In fact, in the early days of his ministry he was referred to as “God’s Machinegun” because he would walk the stage and speak so fast and with so much passion.

But when he gets home, he doesn’t want to talk (especially not about himself). He wants to hear you speak. He wants to know how you’re doing. He wants to know about your family, your ministry, your job. 

If there’s one thing that I’ve always appreciated so much about my grandfather, it’s his humility. He honestly has no idea why God chose to use him – the son of a dairy farmer – to speak to so many people about the love, hope and salvation of Christ. He once said, “I feel like I’m just along for the ride, watching what God is doing.” It’s never been about him. It’s always been about God, and those around him.

I remember the day that the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association broke ground on the ministry’s new headquarters in Charlotte, North Carolina. It was a cold day and drizzly October day, with everybody bundled up under a tent. Many speakers had wonderful and glowing things to say about my grandfather, what he has accomplished and how loved and admired he is.

When it became his turn to speak, my grandfather took the podium to applause and quietly began with words from the book of John. “Jesus must increase, and I must decrease,” he said. “I sort of cringe when I hear my name called in something that I know has been the work of God through these years.”

If you are asking what is Billy Graham really like, there’s your answer, my friends. He’s a humble man who cringes when his name is mentioned, who doesn’t want to talk about himself, but deeply loves others and deeply loves his Savior.

It’s my honor to wish my grandfather a very happy 94th birthday. I love you Daddy Bill!

Click here if  you would like to see what Billy Graham is doing on his birthday next year?   

Will Graham is the third generation of Grahams to proclaim the Gospel under the banner of BGEA. Will has spoken to audiences around the world. He graduated from Liberty University in 1997 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Religion and in 2001 graduated from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary with a Master of Divinity degree. Will and his wife, Kendra, have three children. He currently serves as executive director of the Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove in Asheville, N.C.

A Message from Will Graham: Pastor Appreciation Month

By Will Graham:

It is continually humbling to be compared – and even mentioned in the same sentence – as the wonderful man of God that I call Daddy Bill, my grandfather Billy Graham. But many people may not know one key aspect of ministry that both my grandfather and I share: we both started our ministries as pastors of local churches.

When my grandfather was a student at Wheaton College in Wheaton, Ill., he served as part-time pastor of an area church. Then, as he finished his studies, he became pastor of a church in Western Springs, Ill.  He wrote in his autobiography that he was so enthusiastic that he accepted the call without even asking my grandmother, to whom he was engaged!

My path to the local church took a similar route, except that I had absolutely, positively zero desire to be a pastor. As I became a student at Liberty University, I spoke with my dad about my major, and he suggested that I focus on Bible and Business. “No matter what you do later in life, those two areas will serve you well,” he told me.

I took his advice, and – as a young student – I fell in love with the Bible. I became a sponge, soaking up all the wisdom I could possibly gather from my professors. I grew to see the Bible not as a collection of stories, but as one continuous narrative of God’s love for us from Genesis to Revelation.

Despite this passion for God’s Word and the burden I felt to tell others of His love for them, I still fought the idea of ever being a pastor of a church. I didn’t want it! To me, pastors were underappreciated and underpaid. They were stuck dealing with unwinnable situations in interpersonal and interchurch conflicts and were often told everything they were doing wrong (not what they were doing right).

Yes, I even went so far as to tell God, “Thanks, but no thanks. I’ll go wherever you want me to go and do whatever you want me to do, but I’m not going to be a pastor.” Looking back, this little statement certainly fits the old saying, “If you want to hear God laugh, tell Him your plans.”

I went on from Liberty to seminary at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, and it was there that Pastor Ron Rowe of Bay Leaf Baptist Church convinced me that – even though I didn’t want to be a pastor – it would still be good for me to get experience in a local church. He pointed out that the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) always develops good relationships with churches where they are holding outreaches, and this experience would give me another perspective if I did end up as a part of the organization that bears my grandfather’s name.

His argument made sense to me, and I became an intern at Bay Leaf. Eventually I became the pastor of Bay Leaf’s church plant, Wakefield Baptist Church.

My friends, I loved it! It was one of the greatest honors of my life to lead that church plant and minister to the wonderful folks there. When the time came for God to call me to my evangelistic ministry and position with BGEA, I didn’t want to go. I wept openly because I didn’t want to leave, but when God directs your path, you follow. That’s one thing I learned through the process.

So, why am I sharing this whole story with you? It’s Pastor Appreciation Month, and I want to make sure that you are doing everything you can to support and encourage the pastor of your church. “Encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.  Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to acknowledge those who work hard among you, who care for you in the Lord and who admonish you. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other” (1 Thessalonians 5:1–13, NIV).

Whether your pastor entered the local mission field enthusiastically like my grandfather, or reluctantly like me, his calling is not one to be taken lightly. On any given day, your pastor is – with God’s help – guiding a flock that is dealing with depression, infighting, spiritual warfare, budget issues, divorce, lost jobs, deaths, and life-threatening diseases. And that’s in addition to all the other aspects of the role, like sermons, weddings, evangelism, programs for all ages, and community outreach.

Here are several questions for you to consider this month: Are you encouraging your pastor? Are you praying for your pastor? Are you seeking to build him up and not tear him down? Are you showing love and grace and support to your pastor’s spouse and family in order to make his job easier both at work and at home?

We all need to be held accountable and offered guidance at times, but is your criticism constructive and are you engaging your pastor in love and respect?

My friends, I ask you to please examine yourself and consider honestly your answers to the questions above. If you recognize that you are not being as supportive as you can be, start by praying for your pastor and let God direct your path from there. Make sure your pastor – and his family – know how much you appreciate him this month. And don’t let that encouragement end on October 31. Your pastor needs encouragement year-round, just like you and I do.

Considering giving a Cove gift certificate to show your appreciation to your pastor?  For more information or to to purchase, call 1-800-950-2092 .

Will Graham is the third generation of Grahams to proclaim the Gospel under the banner of BGEA. Will has spoken to audiences around the world. He graduated from Liberty University in 1997 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Religion and in 2001 graduated from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary with a Master of Divinity degree. Will and his wife, Kendra, have three children. He currently serves as executive director of the Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove in Asheville, N.C.

True Freedom

By Will Graham

I believe that most of us who have placed our faith in Jesus would agree that we have found the cure for the heart problem that ails the world. We’ve experienced the peace that passes all understanding, while every day we watch others sinking in despair with their hearts far from God. Sadly, it’s rare when we actually seize the opportunity to toss a rope to the man or woman beside us who is drowning in their hopelessness.

I was recently reminded why it is so important to not miss these chances to reach others when God offers you the opportunity. I was speaking at a weekend Celebration in Terrell, Texas, just east of Dallas. My good friend and ministry partner Todd Pierce, a rodeo cowboy, came down from Idaho to share his testimony from the stage of what Christ has done in his life.

On Saturday, the second of the three days of the event, Todd was preparing to come over to the Performing Arts Center where the Celebration was being held. As he pulled up to a stop light, he saw a man by the side of the road asking for spare change. God moved in Todd’s heart, and Todd pulled his car off to the shoulder of the road and waved the man over.

Todd invited him to the Celebration, and – after hearing what the man had to say about “those Christians” – convinced him to come along. The man quickly went off to find his brothers, and the three of them returned and climbed into the back of Todd’s car.

I had no idea that any of this was taking place while I was backstage preparing to preach on youth night. That evening, when I offered the invitation for the young people in the crowd to make a commitment to Jesus, I quickly noticed the full head of gray hair making its way down to the front.

One of the three men that Todd had picked up – nicknamed “Freebird” after the Lynyrd Skynyrd song – heard the Gospel and, there in the Terrell ISD Performing Arts Center, prayed to accept Christ as his Lord and Savior.

Afterwards he told Todd, “They call me ‘Freebird,’ but I’ve never felt free in my life until tonight.” He couldn’t believe that people loved him and hugged him even though he was wearing dirty clothes and hadn’t showered.

The next morning, as our team met for devotions in the local Holiday Inn, we rejoiced at the work that God had done in Freebird’s life. We were grateful that Todd responded when he felt God calling him to pull the car to the side of the road.

As we closed our time together, we received word that Freebird was on his way to the hotel. He had decided that – having made a commitment to follow Christ – he wanted to be baptized as well! That morning, along with Todd and our emcee Mark Christian, I had the amazing blessing of helping to baptize Freebird in the Holiday Inn swimming pool.

When we asked Freebird – whose real name we learned was Fred – if he was going to come to Sunday afternoon’s final Celebration service, he declined. “No, I’m leaving right now to head home to Alabama,” he said.  “I called my wife and told her we’re kicking this alcohol thing, and we’re getting our marriage right.”

My friends, people need the Lord! Do you have an urgency in your spirit to share Him with others? Do you want to see people find true freedom in Christ? Do you believe that eternity is at stake?

When the Holy Spirit nudged Todd to stop alongside the road, he could have easily said, “I’m going to share my faith with thousands of people this weekend. I’m doing my part. I don’t need to do this too!” And when the man by the side of the road started bad-mouthing Christians, Todd could have driven away. But, of course, he didn’t do either of those things. Because of that, Freebird’s eternity – as well as his marriage and his life here on earth – has forever changed.

How often do we watch our co-workers, family, friends, and neighbors – even the man asking for extra change on the street corner – struggle through life without sharing with them that they can have true hope for eternity? We’re always too busy, or too timid, or – frankly – too jaded to share the love and peace we’ve found. Don’t miss those opportunities!

I pray that I never forget what Freebird taught me, and I pray that you too will be challenged to truly see that people need the Lord. 

A Tribute to Ruth Bell Graham from Her Grandson Will

Will Graham, Executive Director at The Cove, the son of Franklin and Jane Graham and the grandson of Ruth and Billy Graham, penned this tribute to the enduring love between his grandparents. Five years after Ruth’s passing on June 14, 2007, we join Will in remembering this godly woman’s legacy.

It’s such a gift to have grandparents who impart profound truth without even trying, living in such a way that the lessons are impossible to ignore.

by Will Graham

“I always thought it would get easier with time, but it hasn’t. I miss her more now than
ever,” my grandfather, Billy Graham, shared as he talked about my grandmother, Ruth, who passed away in 2007. His booming voice, heard by millions around the world on TV, radio, and in person, now escapes as little more than a whisper.

Daddy Bill loves Tai Tai (the affectionate nicknames that we grandkids have for them). I guess one should probably say “loved” since she is no longer living here on earth, but that wouldn’t be accurate. He loves her with a love that cannot be destroyed by the physical separation of mortal death.

For more than 60 years as he traveled the world sharing a message of hope to the masses, she was his strength and inspiration on the home front, a practical joker who could make a princess and a beggar feel equally comfortable in the same room. He would refer to her as the greatest Christian he had ever known and comment that she knew the Bible far better than he did. She helped to prepare and equip him to go out and accomplish what he was called to do.

In my grandparent’s home, my grandmother—who had suffered years of declining health—had a room where she spent much of her time. It was where she slept and where she  studied the Bible. Several translations were spread across a large desk, all featuring big margins for taking notes. This room was also where she ultimately slipped into eternity.

My grandfather still stops as he makes his way past to look into her room, as though he might find her sitting up in bed with the mischievous grin and quick-witted comments that she carried until her final day on earth.

As he looks into that room, my grandfather still sees a simple woven wreath of Jerusalem thorns hanging on the wall amidst family photos. Directly across from it is the bed where my grandmother courageously faced the debilitating pain that followed her for years.

She would never complain about the pain, though you would occasionally see her bright eyes wince and her teeth grit. Rather than lamenting, she would point up to those thorns, similar to the sharp, long blades that were formed into the crown that Jesus wore at His crucifixion. “If He endured so much for me,” she would say, “I have nothing to complain about.”

It’s such a gift to have grandparents who impart profound truth without even trying, living in such a way that the lessons are impossible to ignore. Daddy Bill and Tai Tai have taught me so much about life, love and even pain and death, and I will be forever thankful for both of them.

Will Graham will be speaking at The Cove on June 29-July 1 in a seminar titled, When The Shadows Speak.  You can register by calling 1-800-950-2092 or visit our website by clicking here.

Will Graham Teaching on Leviticus

Will Graham, grandson of The Cove’s founders, Billy and Ruth Graham, will be teaching on Leviticus later this month.

Over the last 24 years at The Cove, The Book of Leviticus has yet to be taught, until now. Listen as Will explains why he chose to teach on this Old Testament Book.


To register for Will’s seminar titled, “When the Shadows Speak” on June 29-July 1 click here or call 1-800-950-2092 and reserve your spot today.

Will Graham Keeping Vision of ‘Granddaddy’

By Trevor Freeze

As Will Graham travels the globe preaching the Gospel, he loves the ability to stay in touch with the latest technology, but as new director of The Billy Graham Training Center, nothing can replace digging into the Word of God.

In a world ruled by technology, it’s the perfect getaway.

The mountaintop retreat known as The Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove is one of those rare places you can go and completely disconnect from life.

And reconnect with God.

Somewhere in that tension where the speed of technology meets the screeching halt of unwinding is the challenge that’s in front of its new director, Will Graham — grandson of The Cove’s founders, Billy and Ruth Graham.

“It was always (Billy Graham’s) vision to be a place to get away and get into God’s Word,” Will Graham said to a roomful of local and Christian media outlets recently. “I want to continue what my granddaddy started. And use technology to further that.”

Currently, the Billy Graham Training Center in Asheville, N.C., — founded in 1988 — has extended its reach by streaming sessions live videos over the Internet to a worldwide audience. The Cove’s website is cutting edge with virtual tours, interactive floor plans and Googlemap plug-ins.

And the Cove experience has also gotten a little techy as visitors can use GPS units to find one of 315 prayer pillars, which are scattered around the 1,200-acre campus.

Flanked with an iPad and iPhone and a well-worn black leather Bible, Will Graham is armed and ready for whatever life brings his way.

He’ll be the first to tell you he’s not an Apple pitchman — quickly interjecting “I wish I had bought their stock” — but he’s seen the power of new innovations while traveling the world preaching the Gospel.

Keeping in touch with his wife Kendra and his three kids — CJ, Rachel and Quinn — has never been so easy, even when he’s delivering the Good News on the other side of the globe. “I don’t know who the man was who invited Skype, but it’s amazing,” Graham said.

Throw in updates on Twitter, Facetime and Apple TV… “I can send them a picture — hey, look kids, I’m riding on a kangaroo,” Graham quips. “You can take a picture with your phone and it shows up on your TV at home.”

And in no time, Graham is back at home, playing Wii with his son or watching the stars with his daughter’s new telescope. Graham recently returned from preaching to nearly 10,000 at Celebrations — his version of a Billy Graham Crusade — on back-to-back weekends in Texas. Before that he was sharing Christ in the Seven Sister States of India. Next month, he’ll be evangelizing in Australia.

It’s hard for Graham not to feel homesick.

“I tell you, I love being around my wife,” Graham said about the hardest part of being an international evangelist. “If I put God first when I’m gone for two weeks or three weeks, I believe God is going to make that one week I’m home feel like a month.”

And when he’s home, he regularly visits his famous “granddaddy” just up the road, at his Montreat, N.C., home often times on Sunday after attending the early service.

“By the time I get there, I can usually sit with him and watch his pastor on TV,” said Will Graham, son of Franklin Graham, the president and CEO of both the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan’s Purse.

Growing up, Graham remembers aspiring to follow in the evangelistic footsteps of his father and grandfather: “I wanted to be someone who flew around and told people about Jesus.”

And now that he’s doing just that at age 37, he still looks for advice on how to effectively minister the Gospel.

His “granddaddy” has dispensed a few pearls of wisdom over the years, including the three most important parts of ministry —”pray, pray and pray” — along with his biggest regret: “I wish I would’ve taken less speaking engagements. And studied the Bible more.”

There is an unusual mix of familiarity and reverence when Will Graham talks about his grandfather.

“People tell me, ‘You sound like your granddaddy,’ ” said Graham, featured in last month’s People magazine article. “I don’t try to sound like my granddaddy, but when you grow up 60 miles apart in the same neck of the woods, you end up sounding alike.”

The obvious comparison is that both are evangelists, but many see similarities in the heart they have for people. Before joining The Cove as assistant director, Graham was a pastor for six years at Wakefield Baptist Church in Wake Forest, N.C.

“I love my granddaddy,” Graham said. “Anytime I can be associated with him in the same sentence, it’s an honor.”

Will Graham will hold a special seminar called “When the Shadows Speak” June 29-July 1.  Space is still available – click here and reserve yours today. 

 

A Message from Will Graham

I recently accepted the position of executive director of the Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove in Asheville, N.C. This transition in responsibility is extremely personal to me, specifically because of the way that my grandparents, Billy and Ruth Graham, are completely ingrained in the fabric of this wonderful place.

Decades ago, God gave my grandparents a shared vision for The Cove. For my grandfather, the vision was one of inspiration, instruction and intercession. While his massive crusade outreaches were targeted to non-Christians and were his opportunity to reach them with the Good News of Jesus, he wanted to build The Cove to provide a place for Christian believers to spend time reading the Bible, developing a deeper understanding of their faith, and committing concentrated time to prayer. He knew that when people take time to allow God’s Word to transform their lives, they will – in turn – impact their community for Christ.

For my grandmother, the focus was more on the rest and renewal that this unique piece of mountain property could offer. She wanted to provide a respite, allowing Christians to get away from the world and recharge their spiritual batteries through resting in the Word of God. She was very involved in the development of the buildings and made every effort to make it a beautiful, inspiring sanctuary. You can still see furniture throughout the property that she personally hand-picked.

It’s unique that both of my grandparents’ visions are represented in the name on the sign as you drive into the 1,200 acre property: The Billy Graham Training Center (my grandfather’s vision) at The Cove (my grandmother’s vision).

All of this to say, my family heritage runs deep in this place and it is a humbling honor for me to be called by God to continue the great work that my grandparents began so long ago.

Two of the main things that I see in The Cove’s future involve making it a recognized place of prayer, and spreading the amazing teaching that takes place there to more people.

My grandfather used to talk about a place in South Korea that was known as Prayer Mountain. People would go there to get away and spend time specifically in prayer. He had a burden to make The Cove into a similar destination; a holy place where people can cry out to the Lord. We began efforts in that direction a couple years ago by placing markers on the property, encouraging people to stop and pray. Over the next year that will become an even greater focus as we facilitate additional opportunities for people to stop and cast their cares upon Him.

Those who know the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association well know that it is our mission to take the Gospel of Jesus Christ to everybody we can through every effective means available to us. That’s why my grandfather was one of the first to use radio, motion pictures, television, satellite and the Internet in communicating the Gospel. It’s with that in mind that I also want to make sure that we are using modern technology to offer the wealth of training that has taken place at The Cove over the past 24 years to those who have never even stepped foot on this property. There is plenty still to be worked out on that, but it’s something that I hope to accomplish in the months and years ahead.

As I close this note, I would ask you for your prayers. Please pray for The Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove, that we would continue to follow my grandparents’ vision and continue to glorify and direct people to our Savior. Please pray also for me. I’m on the road a lot, and my new role at The Cove will also require devoted attention. Pray that I will be able to balance my roles and get everything accomplished that God has placed before me.

Thank you,

Will Graham
Executive Director

Will Graham will hold a special seminar called “When the Shadows Speak” June 29 – July 1. Space is still available – reserve yours today!

Will Graham

Will Graham is the third generation of Grahams to proclaim the Gospel under the banner of BGEA. Will has spoken to audiences around the world. He graduated from Liberty University in 1997 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Religion and in 2001 graduated from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary with a Master of Divinity degree. He currently serves as executive director of the Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove in Asheville, N.C.