Mourners to say goodbye to Billy Graham

Billy Graham funeral: Evangelist's children carry on crusade

Mourners are gathering to pay their respects to the Rev. Billy Graham at a funeral that marks the culmination of more than a week of tributes to "America's Pastor".

It turns out Graham in his later years increasingly came to rely on the services of a local church pastor.

Billy Graham preached about heaven, wrote a book about heaven and is now "in heaven", Franklin Graham, said.

Daughter Anne Graham Lotz, founder of AnGeL Ministries, a non-profit organization, said she learned from both her father and mother, Ruth Bell Graham, who died in 2007.

It's not exactly clear why he was invited but at the time of Graham's first visit to North Korea, the nation was reeling from the collapse of the Soviet Union and looking to improve ties with the United States.

Today, possessing a Bible there can lead to criminal charges.

Franklin Graham closed his message by saying he last saw his father three days before his death on February 21. He will be remembered at a funeral Friday in Charlotte, North Carolina.

In his career as an evangelist, Graham preached to more than 210 million people in more than 185 countries and territories. Foreign aid was desperately needed, but penetrating the secretive society was almost impossible for Christian aid groups. "That's how unsafe it was", Graham recalled at a 1994 press conference after he was invited for a second North Korea trip.

Former President Bill Clinton paid his respects to the late Billy Graham on Tuesday at Graham's childhood home in Charlotte. The seats under the tent will mostly be occupied by this extended family, their friends and the board members of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and other Christian organizations run by the family, such as Samaritan's Purse.

"We've never had this, not in my lifetime, and he defends the Christian faith more than any president in my lifetime", he said. The preacher said in a statement that he backed a closer examination of refugees' views on "freedom and liberty" and that Islamic law was incompatible with the Constitution. Kim Il Sung died shortly after Graham's second trip to Pyongyang in 1994.

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As Gjelten reports, Graham's legacy is somewhat complicated.

Graham's two trips to Pyongyang - in 1992 and 1994 - helped shape USA policy. Former presidents Barack Obama and Jimmy Carter also said they weren't able to attend.

"You know, I've lost a very dear friend and a man that I had the privilege of spending many years in a very private and personal way with", said Dr. Don Wilton, the personal pastor of Rev. Billy Graham.

Graham will later be buried in a pine coffin made by Louisiana prison inmates next to his late wife, Ruth, at the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, North Carolina, organizers said.

"The Billy Graham that the world saw on television, the Billy Graham that the world saw in the big stadiums, was the same Billy Graham that we saw at home".

"We can only imagine the lives touched by Billy Graham", Trump continued, describing him as "an ambassador for Christ, who reminded the world of the power of prayer and the gift of God's grace". Her parents were Christian missionaries in Pyongyang, a city once called the "Jerusalem of the East".

There are gaps between some evangelical teachings and Mr. Trump's agenda - and certainly his conduct - some scholars say, setting up several potential points of conflict between Graham and Mr. Trump.

Graham had personal audiences with many sitting USA presidents from Harry S. Truman to Barack Obama.

The president is not scheduled to speak at the funeral at Graham's namesake library in Charlotte. And in 1997, Graham met with then Chinese President Jiang Zemin when he was visiting the US.

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