Billy Graham preacher to millions across the world, dies at 99

Vastavam web: U.S. evangelist Billy Graham, who counseled presidents and preached to millions across the world from his native North Carolina to communist North Korea during his 70 years in the pulpit, died on Wednesday at the age of 99, a spokesman said.Graham died at 8 a.m. EST (1300 GMT) at his home in Montreat, North Carolina, according to Jeremy Blume, a spokesman for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.Graham became the de facto White House chaplain to several U.S. presidents, most famously Richard Nixon. He also met with scores of world leaders and was the first noted evangelist to take his message behind the Iron Curtain.

“He was probably the dominant religious leader of his era,” said William Martin, author of “A Prophet With Honor: The Billy Graham Story.” “No more than one or two popes, perhaps one or two other people, came close to what he achieved.”Graham became the de facto White House chaplain to several U.S. presidents, most famously Richard Nixon. He also met with scores of world leaders and was the first noted evangelist to take his message behind the Iron Curtain.

“He was probably the dominant religious leader of his era,” said William Martin, author of “A Prophet With Honor: The Billy Graham Story.” “No more than one or two popes, perhaps one or two other people, came close to what he achieved.”With his steely features and piercing blue eyes, Graham was a powerful figure when he preached in his prime, roaming the stage and hoisting a Bible as he declared Jesus Christ to be the only solution to humanity’s problems.

In his heyday Graham had a thunderous, quick-burst speaking style that earned him the nickname “God’s Machine Gun.” Through his “Crusades for Christ,” Graham sowed fields of devotion across the American heartland that would become fertile ground for the growth of the religious right’s conservative political movement.