Following in the footsteps of her famous father, the Rev. Billy Graham, who never missed an opportunity to urge sinners toward salvation, Ann Graham Lotz offered a public goodbye to her dad on Wednesday and asked that others take up his lifelong mission to share the Gospel.
Lotz, of Raleigh, is an evangelist, author and head of AnGel Ministries who was called by her father “the best preacher in the family.” She is one of five children born to Ruth and Billy Graham, all of whom have served in Christian ministry of one type or another.
Here is the statement she released Wednesday morning about her father, who has died at age 99.
“My Father’s legacy is one that encompasses the world…and engulfs my own life. When I think of him, I don’t think of Billy Graham, the public figure. I think of my Daddy. The one who was always a farmer at heart. Who loved his dogs and his cat. Who followed the weather patterns almost as closely as he did world events. Who wore old blue jeans, comfortable sweaters, and a baseball cap. Who loved lukewarm coffee, sweet ice tea, one scoop of ice cream, and a plain hamburger from McDonald’s. Who was interested in everything and everyone, from the small to the great. Whose mind remembered details that even a computer would have trouble recalling.
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“But when I think of him I also think of his message because he was immersed in it. Saturated in it. He was his message…a simple man who had responded to God’s love by placing his faith in Jesus, receiving the assurance that his sins were forgiven, that he would not perish, but would have everlasting life. Simple faith. Faith that now matters more than anything else.
“For years, over his head as he preached was the banner that quoted the words of Jesus: I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Jesus completed that sentence by saying that no one comes to the Father but by Me. Based on what Jesus said, Daddy is safely with the Father. In Heaven. Daddy not only claimed Jesus as the only Way to God, he lived by the Truth publicly on platforms and privately behind closed doors, and is now enjoying real Life.
“I have often stated that I was raised by a single parent because ministry took my father away from our family—for weeks and months at a time. Daddy estimated that he was gone from home approximately 60 percent of his children’s growing-up years. Now, he has left again. This time, he will not be coming back. At least, not until Jesus does, too.
“While he may be physically absent and his voice silent, I am confident that his message will continue to reverberate throughout the generations to come. My prayer on this day of his move to Our Father’s House is that his death will be a rallying cry. That tens of thousands of pastors, teachers, evangelists, and ordinary men and women will rise up to take his place. That they will take up his message like a baton being passed in a relay race and faithfully pass it on to those with whom they come in contact. Because Daddy’s message is God’s message. And it’s a message of genuine hope for the future, of love for the present, of forgiveness for the past.
“It’s a message, when received, that brings a fresh beginning, unshakable joy, unexplainable peace, eternal significance, meaning and purpose to life, and opens Heaven’s door.
“It was this message, which Daddy carried to the world, that penetrated my own heart as a young girl and has created in me a personal, passionate resolve to communicate it myself to as many people as possible. And so, even as my tears seem to be unending, I silently rededicate my life to picking up and passing on the baton. Would you do the same?”
Anne Graham Lotz