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There will never be another like him

There will never be another Billy Graham. The evangelist is estimated to have preached to more than 210 million in person. His television broadcasts, radio programs and newspaper columns reached millions more.

It is hard to overstate just how influential he has been. His strategy was simple: In 1957, he said, “I intend to go anywhere, sponsored by anybody, to preach the Gospel of Christ.”

And he did. He preached all over the world. It wasn’t his striking presence on the stage, or his showmanship, or his eloquence that made him effective. “I have been asked, ‘What is the secret?’” Graham had said of his preaching. “The secret of my work is God. I would be nothing without him.”

It’s nearly impossible to find a Christian over 50 who has not been influenced by Graham’s preaching. Those individuals have in turn influenced millions of younger Christians. It would be futile to try to put a number on his reach, but it would have to be in the hundreds of millions, if not more.

Graham was not perfect. No man is. He regretted not doing more to support the civil rights movement, though he did end racially segregated seating at his crusades in 1953.

“I think I made a mistake when I didn’t go to Selma” with other clergy who joined the historic march led by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., he said. “I would like to have done more.”

Graham understood what too many of us either forget or never fully know — that everyone needs to hear the Gospel. He spent a lifetime working toward that end.

He has been called the most important evangelist since the Apostle Paul. It’s hard to argue with that statement.