(RNS) — Famed evangelist Billy Graham, who died Feb. 21, would have celebrated the centennial of his birth on Wednesday (Nov. 7).
Here are 10 quotes from the preacher and people who knew and admired him over his 99 years of life:
“I have often said that the first thing I am going to do when I get to Heaven is to ask, ‘Why me, Lord? Why did You choose a farmboy from North Carolina to preach to so many people, to have such a wonderful team of associates, and to have a part in what You were doing in the latter half of the twentieth century — and beyond?”
— Billy Graham in the 10th anniversary edition of his 1997 autobiography “Just As I Am”
“That’s not true. Because I’ve lived to be my age and met so many people around the world, that just becomes second nature.”
— Billy Graham in an interview with Religion News Service in 1994 about how he is bothered “a little bit” by people who called him a name-dropper
“My parents have been an example to me all of my life. I watched my father, for instance, and saw no inconsistencies between his private and public life. That made an impact on me. … The Billy Graham that the world has seen in public is the same Billy Graham that I saw at home.”
— Franklin Graham in his 2002 book “The Name”
“Billy Graham names two reasons why ‘Just As I Am’ was chosen to be used after his messages. First, the song repeats an affirmative response, ‘O Lamb of God, I come,’ thus verbalizing what people are doing as they come forward. And second, the words give a strong biblical basis for responding to the call of Christ.”
— George Beverly Shea, longtime soloist at Billy Graham crusades, in his 2004 book “How Sweet the Sound”
“No matter how dark and hopeless a situation may seem, never stop praying. Prayer should be an attitude of life. We cannot afford to be too busy to pray.”
— Billy Graham in his 2011 book “Nearing Home: Life, Faith and Finishing Well”
“Too often we seek to excuse ourselves in our sins, but God seeks to convict us of sin and save us from it. Sin then is not a toy with which to play but a terror to be shunned.”
— Billy Graham in his 2013 book “The Reason for My Hope: Salvation”
“I always considered it a lost day if I did not spend time reading at least a passage in this sacred Book. Today I cannot see well enough to read, but I am thankful to have committed much of God’s Word to memory.”
— Billy Graham, on reading the Bible, in his 2015 book “Where I Am: Heaven, Eternity and Our Life Beyond”
“[E]leven years ago, when my mother went to Heaven my daddy started asking me to read him the Bible, and at first it was very intimidating, and then it became such a joy. … He was hard of hearing. So, I would sit in front of him knee to knee, and he would ask me to give him a full sixty-minute message, and he never took his eyes off my face.”
— Anne Graham Lotz in her remarks at the funeral of her father on March 2.
“Billy Graham’s life modeled integrity, modesty, lifelong fidelity to one’s spouse, and humility despite worldwide acclaim.”
— From a resolution of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, at its Nov. 5-6 meeting in Greensboro, N.C.
“In the famed evangelist’s waning years, it became common for observers of the religious scene to speculate as to who would be ‘The Next Billy Graham.’ The answer is quite likely, ‘No one.’”
— William Martin, in the 2018 updated edition of his book “A Prophet with Honor: The Billy Graham Story”