CHARLOTTE, NC (FOX 46 WJZY) — American evangelical Christian evangelist and ordained Southern Baptist minister Billy Graham has died at the age of 99.
He passed away from natural causes just before 8 a.m. Wednesday at his home in Montreat just outside of Asheville, North Carolina.
In the coming days Billy Graham will be laid to rest alongside his beloved wife in Charlotte at the library that documents his life and work.
RIGHT NOW Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, NC expecting to see hundreds if not thousands come to pay their respects to the man regarded as most influential preacher of 21st century. Rev Graham died at 8AM. Opens today at 9:30AM @FOX46News @FoxNews pic.twitter.com/IZSGr8C4Hn
— Lauren Dugan (@DuganFOX46) February 21, 2018
Just three miles west of where Billy Graham was born in Charlotte off the parkway that bears his name is the Billy Graham Library.
“The whole goal of the library is to do what Billy Graham has been called to do through God, and that’s to tell people of God’s love, that’s why it exists,” Executive Director Tom Phillips said.
Phillips took FOX 46 through the library.
“His family had a very humble heritage,” he said.
It traces Graham’s life from his inauspicious beginnings on a dairy farm to answering the calling that would make him an evangelist to the world, eventually preaching to hundreds of millions of people in over 185 countries.
Phillips’ favorite part of the library takes visitors behind the iron curtain, along Graham’s travels.
“This is amazingly well designed with the animation. The people of western Europe were so oppressed, suppressed, that they were not even allowed to speak what they thought was the truth,” he said.
After taking the journey of faith in the library, visitors come to the Graham Family Homeplace where Billy grew up from age 9 to 17.
It was preserved and painstakingly reassembled, brick by brick and board by board on site.
“This lets people come to the birthplace of Billy Graham,” he said.
Phillips said about 140,000 people visit each year. Since opening its doors in 2007, more than one million people have passed through the 40-foot glass doors.
“It really is a destination spot. I find people here from Nigeria, London, California, Latin America, Ontario, Canada, and I’ll say where are you going? Well, we came here. Where else are you going? Well i’m not going anywhere else,” Phillips said.
This is on the same property as the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, which reaches out to millions each year, continuing Graham’s work.
Its work that will continue long after Graham is laid to rest beside his wife, Ruth, in the memorial garden at the foot of a huge brick cross.
“They say this library is really not about Billy Graham, it’s about Jesus, and it is. That’s the way it was designed,” Phillips said.