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Sunday, Nov. 29, 2015

The Shepherd's Heart: The Nobel Prize

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Well, like many of you, I was shocked when I heard that our President was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace. Heck -- even the President was shocked (at least that what he said).

Personally, and in my humblest of opinions, I think a person should have a track record before being awarded such a prestigious honor. But, as usual, nobody asked me.

That said, I would like now to offer my own nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Billy Graham.

That's right, Billy Graham.

The internet tells us that William Franklin "Billy" Graham, Jr., was born Nov. 7, 1918, and that he is best known as an American evangelist. He has been a spiritual adviser to multiple United States presidents and is number seven on Gallup's list of admired people for the 21st century.

Graham was raised Presbyterian but spent most of his life ministering as a Southern Baptist evangelist. Even so, his ministry has transcended any denominational structure or barrier.

He reportedly has preached in person to more people around the world than any other Protestant in history. And according to his staff, as of 1993 more than 2.5 million people had "stepped forward" at his crusades to accept Jesus Christ as their personal Savior. As of 2008, Graham's lifetime audience, including radio and television broadcasts, was estimated at just over 2.2 billion.

There are many other things I could write about the preacher, but let me tell you why I think he might well deserve the Nobel Prize for Peace.

First, Graham was the first evangelist of note to speak behind the Iron Curtain -- and he did it during the Cold War. In his travels, he spoke to large crowds in countries throughout Eastern Europe and in the Soviet Union, always calling for peace.

Second, during the era -- or reign -- of Apartheid, Graham steadfastly and consistently refused to visit South Africa, going there to preach only after the South African government agreed to allow audiences to sit desegregated. His first crusade there was in 1973, during which he openly denounced apartheid.

And the list goes on and on.

Graham preached the gospel and called for peace in Northern Ireland during the height of violence there. In Seoul, South Korea, Graham attracted one million people to a single service. In 1988 he spoke in China. This was a homecoming for his wife Ruth, who had been born in China to missionary parents. He appeared in North Korea in 1992.

At home in the United States, Dr. Graham spoke at the memorial service following the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995. And in the days following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, he led a prayer and remembrance service at Washington National Cathedral, which was attended by past and present national leaders.

In June of 2005, the aging Graham began what he said would be his last crusade in North America. Again, fate intervened, and on the weekend of March 11-12, 2006, he joined his son Franklin for a series of meetings titled the "Festival of Hope," which was held in New Orleans -- a city still recovering from Hurricane Katrina.

His heart always has been as big as heaven, and he has prayed for and preached peace around the world. In his lifetime, Billy Graham has preached Jesus, the Kingdom of God, and loving one another to live audiences of nearly 215 million people in more than 185 countries and territories around the world.

In recent years, Reverend Graham reportedly has battled Parkinson's disease, hydrocephalus, pneumonia, broken hips, and prostate cancer.

While I am relatively sure that Dr. Graham would not want any recognition for himself -- directing it instead to the Father, Son and Holy Ghost -- I think he deserves the Nobel Prize for Peace as much as anybody.

And would submit that he deserves it more than most.

BOB G. STEWART, Columnist
The Shepherd's Heart