The Rev. Billy Graham, the evangelical preacher who used his voice to convert millions of people to the Christian faith, died on Wednesday. He was 99.


According to his spokesman Jerry Blume, Graham passed away in his home in Montreat, North Carolina. Throughout his long career, Graham prayed with U.S. presidents Harry Truman through Barack Obama. He also served as a counselor to several, including Lyndon B. Johnson, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton. Many referred to Graham as “America’s Pastor” for his evangelical work.

Graham preached to an estimated 215 million people across 185 countries in his lifetime. He was a near-constant presence on the radio, TV and Internet. In addition, he wrote more than two dozen books. His 1997 memoir, Just as I Am, was a best seller on the New York Times. “My home is in Heaven, I’m just traveling through this world,” Graham often said.

The Reverend met his wife, Ruth McCue Bell, in college and they married in 1943. She became a trusted advisor to Graham, and the pair shared five children. They were married until her death in 2007. “When it comes to spiritual things, my wife has had the greatest influence on my ministry,” Graham said of his wife after her passing.

Graham was a close friend of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., once remarking that, “Had it not been for the ministry of my good friend Dr. Billy Graham, my work in the Civil Rights Movement would not have been as successful as it has been.” Graham was known for keeping his Christian faith apart from politics and preaching in a nonpartisan way. This often earned him criticism, but his dedication to unity is best remembered in his refusal to preach to segregated congregations, forcing churches to integrate for his services.

Messages of condolences have been pouring in since word of Graham’s death has spread. “The GREAT Billy Graham is dead. There was nobody like him! He will be missed by Christians and all religions. A very special man,” tweeted out president Donald Trump.

Vice President Mike Pence added, “Karen and I were saddened to learn of the passing of one of the greatest Americans of the 20th century, Reverend Billy Graham,” he said in a statement. “We send our deepest condolences to the Graham family. Billy Graham’s ministry for the gospel of Jesus Christ and his matchless voice changed the lives of millions. We mourn his passing but I know with absolute certainty that today he heard those words, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.’ Thank you Billy Graham. God bless you.”

Former president Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalynn said in a statement that they “are deeply saddened” by Graham’s passing, but are “pleased to count Reverend Graham” as a friend and advisor. “Tirelessly spreading a message of fellowship and hope, he shaped the spiritual lives of tens of millions of people worldwide,” Carter said in a statement. “Broad-minded, forgiving, and humble in his treatment of others, he exemplified the life of Jesus Christ by constantly reaching out for opportunities to serve. He had an enormous influence on my own spiritual life.”

Television evangelist Joel Osteen, who infamously did not open the doors of his massive megachurch to Houston residents during Hurricane Harvey, also posted a message on Twitter. “Billy Graham has always been and will always be a hero in our home. Next to my own father, Reverend Graham was the most humble and gracious man I ever knew. I am honored to call him a friend and a mentor. Victoria and I will miss him dearly,” he wrote alongside some photos.

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