The day before Billy Graham turned 97, the North Carolina Museum of History in Raleigh opened a 5,000-square-foot exhibit honoring the life of the famed Baptist evangelist. The free, privately funded exhibit opened Nov. 6 and will be on view through July 10, 2016.
Graham’s life story is featured in “North Carolina’s Favorite Son: Billy Graham and his Remarkable Journey of Faith.” The exhibit’s title is drawn from the 2013 resolution passed by the N.C. General Assembly honoring the life of Graham’s wife, Ruth Bell Graham, and naming Billy Graham “North Carolina’s Favorite Son.”
BR photo by K. Allan Blume
“My father was born, raised and lived in this state and he’s proud to be a North Carolinian,” said Franklin Graham, president and CEO of both BGEA and Samaritan’s Purse in Boone.
“Billy Graham, a native son of North Carolina, is known for his positive impact in our state and around the world,” said Ken Howard, Director of the N.C. Museum of History. “The museum is proud to present his life story in this major exhibition in partnership with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA),” headquartered in Charlotte.
Visitors to the museum can retrace Graham’s steps through personal memorabilia, interactive displays and compelling multimedia that help bring his story to life. They will discover how a Charlotte dairy farmer’s son became a worldwide preacher of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Glimpses of his family life and his leadership in the battle against segregation are part of the exhibit.
Highlights include a look at each of Graham’s 12 North Carolina crusades and other major evangelistic events such as Los Angeles, 1949; London, 1954; New York City, 1957 and South Africa, 1973. His influence among U.S. presidents and other world leaders are reviewed.
“My father was born, raised and lived in this state and he’s proud to be a North Carolinian,” said Franklin Graham, president and CEO of both BGEA and Samaritan’s Purse in Boone. “He is the son of a dairyman that God took and used around the world to touch many lives. He gives God glory for everything that was accomplished through his life, and that’s what you’ll see in this exhibit.”
Tom Phillips, vice president of BGEA and executive director of the Billy Graham Library, told representatives of the media the day before the exhibit opened, “Mr. Graham preached the gospel in his lifetime, personally, to more people than anyone in history – 215 million people in 185 countries. Hundreds of millions more have seen or heard his message for Jesus Christ through television, radio and other means.”
Highlighting Graham’s role in N.C. Phillips added, “You can’t separate the man from the message … this a major part of the spiritual life of our state.”
In one section of the exhibit Graham is quoted saying, “I am a member of the human race; I am a world citizen. I have a responsibility to my fellow humans – whatever their religion, and I am convinced that only Christ can meet the deepest needs of our world and our hearts.”
Phillips recalled that three days after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack, in a memorial service at the Washington National Cathedral, Billy Graham comforted the nation saying “My prayer today is that we will feel the loving arms of God wrapped around us and we will know in our hearts that He will never forsake us as we put our trust in Him.”
The N.C. Museum of History is located at 5 E. Edenton Street in downtown Raleigh. It is open Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.
Church groups are invited to visit. For information or special group arrangements call (919) 807-7900 or visit ncmuseumofhistory.org.