We almost missed it. On a recent trip to various locations in North and South Carolina, our itinerary was filled with addresses of hotels, restaurants, and attractions. My head was spinning with all we’d be seeing and doing, but Steve remembered something that I had forgotten. Billy Graham was from Charlotte, N.C., and that’s where we were spending the night. We realized that a short window of opportunity would be open the next morning before we drove to Asheville, N.C. and found that the Billy Graham Library was only about 15 minutes from our hotel. I’m so very glad we had a chance to visit.
As a born-again Christian since I was 8 years old, Billy Graham’s name, face, and ministry have filled my consciousness my whole life. I am just one of the 215 million people in 185 countries that Mr. Graham preached to in his lifetime. In the 99 years of his life, his sermons carried one central message — Jesus Christ is the only way to God because the Bible tells us so.
The Billy Graham Library is located, appropriately so, right off of Billy Graham Parkway in Charlotte. The dedication was held on May 31, 2007, with three former U.S. Presidents in attendance (Bush 41, Clinton and Carter). He was, after all, referred to as “Pastor to the Presidents” and met with all of them going back to Harry Truman.
The staff and website are quick to tell you that this is not a memorial or a museum but a ministry. And, I got to see that in action for myself. The grounds are beautifully-maintained, and the atmosphere is one of peace and tranquility with beautiful Christian music playing the moment you get out of your car. The exhibits and multimedia presentations follow a logical and well-planned order, constantly pointing people to Jesus. And, as I fully expected, there was a Gospel invitation given at the end with trained counselors on hand to answer questions and to pray with those who wanted help.
I loved the attention the Library gave to Billy’s wife Ruth. She died in 2007 after they had been married for 64 years. She was the one who stayed behind rearing the couple’s 5 children while Billy traveled all over the world preaching. Her commitment to his ministry was every bit as strong as his was. (They had 19 grandchildren, a fact that I, as a grandmother to 13, carefully noted).
The burial sites of both Billy and Ruth were very special, as were those of Cliff Barrows and his wife and George Beverly Shea. Their music was essential to the success of countless crusades. (Just as a side note, my uncle George Rose was a gifted singer who was often compared to George Beverly Shea. He admired the man so much that he named his son George Beverly Rose. We called him “Bev.”)
Steve and I left with uplifted hearts. This ministry is done in an excellent way. Admission is free. I recommend it highly. You will also find Billy’s boyhood home on the grounds, as well as a bookstore and a very clean and attractive cafe.
Psalm 116:15 – “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His faithful servants.” Can you just imagine the thousands that were standing at the gates of heaven to welcome the man who had preached Jesus to them and helped them find salvation and eternal life?