When Billy Graham died at age 99 in his North Carolina home on February 21, he left behind a legacy of service to his Lord through preaching the gospel. But according to his will, recently made public, that’s not all there is to his legacy.
Graham left some parting words and assets to his family – and some financial backing for his ministry, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA).
The 16-page document begins with a charge to his family members who remain.
“I ask my children and grandchildren to maintain and defend at all hazards and at any cost of personal sacrifice the blessed doctrine of complete atonement through the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ once offered, and through that alone,” he wrote.
“I urge all of you to walk with the Lord in a life of separation from the world and to keep eternal values in view.”
As a comfort to his family, he wrote: “When you read this I will be safely with Jesus in Paradise. I will be awaiting the reunion of our family in Heaven.”
Throughout the next section of the will, Graham chronicled the major points of his life – non-material blessings, such as his simple childhood on a Charlotte, N.C., dairy farm, marriage to Ruth Bell Graham and love for their five children.
“From the beginning of our marriage, we determined that we would be tithers,” wrote Graham of his and Ruth’s financial commitment to God’s kingdom. “We determined not to be preoccupied with material things, which leads to covetousness and which the Scriptures call idolatry.”
In keeping with his commitment on earth, Graham willed 10 percent of his residuary estate – that which is left after debts, funeral expenses, death taxes and all other claims are satisfied – to BGEA “to be used for the purposes of the Billy Graham Library Endowment.”
After the posthumous BGEA contribution, all remaining assets will be distributed equally among his five children: Virginia (“Gigi”) Graham, Anne Graham Lotz, Ruth (“Bunny”) Graham, Franklin Graham and Nelson (“Ned”) Graham.
Another beneficiary included in Graham’s will is his literary trust, which will hold the copyrights to his works.
But Graham left more than just parting words and material assets to his family and his ministry. He left behind one last charge – one last “invitation” – to anyone who has access to this public will.
“I urge all who shall read this document to read and study the Scriptures daily and to trust only in the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation,” he wrote.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Joy Allmond is a writer for LifeWay Christian Resources. This story first appeared at the Facts&Trends website factsandtrends.net.)