Tributes from religious and political leaders around the world poured in at the news of Billy Graham's death. The charismatic Christian evangelist, 99, preached the gospel message to nearly 215 million people for more than six decades and provided spiritual counsel to several U.S presidents. Azusa Pacific University community members share their reflections on the influence and legacy of one of the best known preachers of the 20th Century.

“This morning, we woke to the news that Reverend Billy Graham passed into eternity. As an alumnus of a Christian college, he modeled humility, grace, and a profound commitment to God’s redemptive plan for humankind. His words and actions deeply influenced our collective conscience. And his ongoing commitment to serving others—as modeled in bringing the story of Jesus to hundreds of millions—remains an inspiration for Christ followers today. The APU community sends our deepest condolences to the Graham family.”

Jon R. Wallace, DBA, president

“Billy Graham is undoubtedly one of the most famous and, in my view, best examples of what a humble servant of Christ can accomplish by the grace of God for the kingdom of God. He has achieved many honorable successes as a preacher, author, and leader. Yet, perhaps what I admire as much as anything is his never ending pursuit of intellectual and spiritual personal growth. As he matured, he softened, became wiser and more loving, while never relinquishing his belief in the centrality of the scriptures and the Gospel.”

Gary Black, Jr., Ph.D., Honors College and Seminary

“I had the opportunity to volunteer at a Billy Graham event in Portland, Oregon, in 1992. Seeing people from many different Christian churches coming together for the common good was powerful. Graham’s simple message of hope for the hopeless was something that drew us all together in common mission.”

Robert R. Duke, Ph.D., dean, School of Theology and Azusa Pacific Seminary

“Dr. Billy Graham dedicated his life to sharing the Gospel message throughout the world. He was pastor to presidents and evangelist to everyone who heard him. He had a deep impact on my ministry as an Air Force chaplain, and he was such an amazing supporter of our military, providing resources and materials for spreading the Gospel. I remember the last Billy Graham Crusade that I attended in Anaheim, CA, representing the USAF Chaplain corps on military appreciation night. We are now to champion the cause and continue to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ.”

Rick Givens, Colonel, USAFR, APU associate chaplain for graduate and military students

“Billy Graham could be described as the "reverend to royalty." He developed a personal connection with Britain's Queen Elizabeth and enjoyed a close relationship with several U.S. presidents. He advised White House occupants and participated in the swearing in ceremonies of President George H.W. Bush (1989) and President Bill Clinton (1993, 1997).”

Jennifer E. Walsh, Ph.D., dean, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

“Although Billy Graham was a southerner, he launched his famous evangelistic crusades in Los Angeles. That first crusade, scheduled for three weeks, extended by popular demand to eight weeks, and helped transform him into the public face of the modern evangelical movement. His books and crusades eventually reached millions of people while his founding of the magazine Christianity Today and involvement in parachurch organizations forged an institutional identity for evangelicals.”

David L. Weeks, Ph.D., dean, Honors College