Graham in TV interview: ‘My time is limited’
Erin Roach, Baptist Press
January 07, 2011

Graham in TV interview: ‘My time is limited’

Graham in TV interview: ‘My time is limited’
Erin Roach, Baptist Press
January 07, 2011

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Billy Graham granted his first interview

in several years Dec. 20, telling Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren that if he could

do it over again, he would spend less time traveling and more time in

meditation and prayer.

The renowned evangelist, now 92, spoke to Van Susteren just before meeting

President George W. Bush and his wife Laura, along with Franklin and Jane

Graham, for lunch in Charlotte. The Bushes were at the Billy Graham Library to

sign copies of their autobiographies.

Van Susteren asked Graham if he has hope, and Graham said he has a tremendous

amount of hope because he is a believer in Jesus Christ, who was raised from

the dead and “is alive right now.”

“My wife is already in heaven. I look forward to seeing her definitely in the

near future because I’m 92 now and I know that my time is limited on this

earth,” Graham said. “But I have tremendous hope in the fact I’ll be in the

future life. And I’ll be there because of what Jesus Christ did for me on the

cross and by the resurrection. And this gives me a great deal of hope.”

If Graham had the opportunity to live his life over again, he said there are

things he would do differently.

“I would study more. I would pray more, travel less, take less speaking

engagements. I took too many of them in too many places around the world,” he

said. “If I had it to do over again, I’d spend more time in meditation and

prayer and just telling the Lord how much I love Him and adore Him and (am)

looking forward the time we’re going to spend together for eternity.”

Billy Graham gave his first interview in several years Dec. 20 when he spoke to Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren about his relationship with the Bush family and his hope for the future.

Van Susteren inquired about what age Graham realized he wanted to be a

preacher, and he said it was around age 18 or 19 when he was a student at a

Bible school near Tampa.

“I used to walk the streets in this area that had completely disintegrated

because of the Depression at that time. And I would pray and I would ask God

for a direction for my life and for the genuine purpose of my life. What am I

here for?” Graham recounted.

One night at a nearby golf course, as he was lying on the 18th green amid the

palm trees, he heard God’s call.

“The Lord seemed to call me and say that I was to preach the gospel. And from

that time on, I began to prepare,” Graham said. “By preparation, I mean I began

to read books which contributed to what I would say in the years to come. And

then I began to realize that my job was to try to win over people to Christ,

which I did privately and publicly, which became eventually my sermons that we

call evangelism.”

Over the years, as he spoke to millions, he was surprised by the numbers who

gathered to hear his message, Graham said. He noted a particular engagement in

Seoul, Korea, the largest audience he ever had.

“They were just spread out as far as you could see, in a great plaza along the

river,” he said.

Graham passed along some advice to young preachers.

“Spend more time in study and prayer. That’s the secret of successful

evangelism,” he said. “If you neglect that, you’ve neglected the very heart of God’s

call to you.”

Graham said the Christmas holiday always meant “a great deal” to him, and his

wife “always made a big thing of Christmas for the children.”

“We all looked forward to it. We would get up on Christmas morning and have our

prayers, and then we would sit under the tree and open our presents, usually on

Christmas morning, sometimes on Christmas Eve,” Graham said.

“But when I looked into the crib or the manger and saw that little baby who was

going to rise to become the greatest teacher that ever lived, to die on the

cross for my sins, to know that I’ll be forgiven because of what He was doing,

it absolutely transformed Christmas for me,” he said.

“And all the shopping and the gifts and all the things we celebrated (at)

Christmas, it’s a spiritual time. It’s a time that strengthens my faith and

gives me courage for the future. And I don’t expect to live that much longer,

but I do remember that every Christmas strengthened my faith as I came along.”

Also in the interview, Van Susteren asked about Graham’s relationship with the

Bush family, and Graham recalled that he first met Bush’s grandfather, Prescott

Bush, in Florida and then was invited by Bush’s grandmother to answer biblical

questions and pray with a group of neighbors in her home.

“She was one of the sweetest women I think I ever met, a very deep Christian.

And she became a wonderful friend to me. And through her, I began to meet the

rest of the family,” Graham said of Dorothy Walker Bush.

President George H.W. Bush and his wife Barbara “became very close friends to

Ruth and me,” Graham said, and it was during a visit to their retreat in

Kennebunkport, Maine, in 1985 that he met their son George. Graham had been

asked to conduct a Bible study for the family, and Bush stood up to ask questions.

Later the evangelist and the future president went on walks and played tennis


“I remember he was very interested in spiritual things and he asked a lot of

very deep questions about the Bible and about the Christian faith. And I tried

to answer as best I could,” Graham told Van Susteren.

After lunch with Graham, Bush sat down with Van Susteren to elaborate on what

he wrote about Graham’s influence on his life in his book Decision Points.

“He’s a gentle soul. I mean, here’s one of the most famous people in the world,

and in his presence, you realize how humble he is,” Bush said. “And his

humility, and obviously, his love for God and Christ can overwhelm the cynic.

And I was a cynical person at the time, and his spirit overwhelmed me.”

Graham, at Kennebunkport, was able to lead Bush from being a man full of

questions to one with some peace about God.

“I mean, one way, from a kind of biblical analogy, he was — started to help me

plant seeds. And the ground was — the ground was pretty hard,” Bush said. “But

after meeting Billy, the ground became more fertile for the seed, is one way to

put it. No, he helped change my life. He truly did. And I was a questioning

person. I was drinking a lot. And religion was — you know, I used to — I put in

the book ‘I would listen but never hear.’ And Billy Graham helped me understand

the redemptive power of a risen Lord.”

More than 1,000 people lined up outside the Billy Graham Library in December to

meet the Bushes, and Graham joined them briefly to receive the first signed

copies of their books that day. Franklin Graham gave the former president and

first lady a private tour of the library and later said his father’s mind is as

strong as it has been in the past few years.

“His mind is sharper today than it was five years ago,” Franklin Graham said.

“I don’t know what it is. He is getting better. He is getting stronger.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Roach is an assistant editor of Baptist Press.)

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