RT Kendall on Billy Graham

Billy Graham, right, preaches for R.T. Kendall, left.
Billy Graham, right, preaches for R.T. Kendall, left. (RT Kendall/Courtesy)

Minutes after I got off the train today in Preston, England—where I am to address 100 ministers in preparation for the Franklin Graham Festival over here in September, I was told that Billy Graham went to heaven this morning.

I wonder if, when we are in heaven, we will get to see a DVD replay of Billy going to glory and being welcomed by Jesus. I could not help but wonder what this would be like. I had the same thought in 1981 when my mentor Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones died. What is it like in heaven when people like these men enter glory? 

As the photo in my tweet shows, Billy preached for me at Westminster Chapel in May 1984. His visit coincided with the worst trial of my life—when half my deacons turned against my ministry and hoped to see me gone soon. Some of them were not too happy with my inviting Billy. As many know, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones refused to support Billy Graham's meetings in London. But it is worth noting that Mrs. Lloyd-Jones, who supported me until the day she died (I preached her memorial service in 1991 at Westminster Chapel), came to the service to hear Dr. Graham.

Tens of thousands of articles and obituaries will be written about Billy Graham in the next few days. His relationships with presidents. With Her Majesty the Queen. The millions he preached to. Many of us will want to tell our own stories pertaining to Billy. One of the highlights of my ministry was having him preach for me. He spent an hour and 45 minutes alone with me in my vestry two days before. He went to the hospital with a nosebleed later that afternoon. There were fears he would have to cancel, but he didn't. He left his hospital bed (you can see the identity band on his left wrist in my tweet photo of him) to preach for me. Despite rumors he would not show up—due to being in the hospital—Westminster Chapel was packed from top to bottom. Had those rumors not spread, the crowds would have been lined up and down Buckingham Gate.

He was a true friend. I can't say we were close friends—not many can. But he was a true friend, always answering my letters, giving me recommendations when I needed them. I'm sure his comment regarding my three volumes of Understanding Theology made a huge difference in sales. He endorsed my book Tithing and wrote a brief forward to Stand up and be Counted (a theological defense of giving an invitation after the sermon). I have preached at his training center—The Cove—annually for some 10 years. His daughter Ruth wrote the Foreword for my next book, Popular in Heaven, Famous in Hell.  

Get Spirit-filled content delivered right to your inbox! Click here to subscribe to our newsletter.

When I came home after that hour and 45 minutes with him in my vestry, Louise asked: "What was it like to meet Billy Graham?" I replied after a few seconds to ponder it, "He's so simple. He is so simple." By that I mean uncomplicated. Unpretentious. He signed my Bible that day—adding "Philippians 1:6ff." to his name. Then he prayed for me.

His closest friend T. W. Wilson—who patiently waited outside my vestry for that hour and 45 minutes—also became a good friend. T. W. wrote a book, The Key to Everlasting Joy. Billy wrote the Foreword for the American edition, but at T. W.'s request, his British publisher asked me to write the Foreword for the British edition. "We need a Brit for the edition over here," they said to me. "But I'm not a Brit," I replied. "Yes, you are," they said. It was my greatest compliment in 25 years in England! 

Good-bye, Billy. What an impact you have made on this planet. Utterly indescribable. Words fail. I hope to have more time with you one day. I thank God for you. Good-bye, Billy, good-bye.

Get Spirit-filled content delivered right to your inbox! Click here to subscribe to our newsletter.

Dr. Mark Rutland's

National Institute of Christian Leadership (NICL)

The NICL is one of the top leadership training programs in the U.S. taught by Dr. Mark Rutland. If you're the type of leader that likes to have total control over every aspect of your ministry and your future success, the NICL is right for you!

FREE NICL MINI-COURSE - Enroll for 3-hours of training from Dr. Rutland's full leadership course. Experience the NICL and decide if this training is right for you and your team.

Do you feel stuck? Do you feel like you’re not growing? Do you need help from an expert in leadership? There is no other leadership training like the NICL. Gain the leadership skills and confidence you need to lead your church, business or ministry. Get ready to accomplish all of your God-given dreams. CLICK HERE for NICL training dates and details.

The NICL Online is an option for any leader with time or schedule constraints. It's also for leaders who want to expedite their training to receive advanced standing for Master Level credit hours. Work through Dr. Rutland's full training from the comfort of your home or ministry at your pace. Learn more about NICL Online. Learn more about NICL Online.

Charisma Leader — Serving and empowering church leaders