“Her heart for service brought her in contact with millions during her lifetime, but there was little opportunity to cultivate relationships,” Pastor Greg Laurie writes. “The station of a leader at this level necessitates few close friends and confidantes. However, it is certain that Billy Graham could be counted as one of them. Their friendship began in 1955, a year after his historic and triumphant crusade in England, which shaped the future of Christianity in that country. His preaching in the U.K. had a revival-like impact, not just on the people, but on their monarch as well.”
The Washington Post in 2018 did a “fact-check” on the Queen’s faith and reported it was accurate. “Scholars believe the queen possessed a “deep vibrancy of her faith” as someone who read scripture daily, attended church weekly and regularly prayed, Stan Rosenberg, a member of the Faculty of Theology and Religion at the University of Oxford, told the newspaper. He continued “Despite suffering some public attacks for her handling of Princess Diana’s death and her political views, she is widely admired for her faith, and “folks here know her to be thoughtful, authentic, serious, and devout but not a pressingly intrusive Christian,” he said.
Graham’s 1954 crusade ended with an invitation for a private audience with Prime Minister Winston Churchill. During that auspicious occasion, Churchill shared with Billy that he had all but run out of hope. But the young evangelist assured the cynical politician there was hope because the Bible said so. They ended their visit in prayer, and that meeting led to his first contact with the queen.
Graham and the queen enjoyed a friendship that spanned six decades, with him having a seminal impact on her faith. It was an unlikely comradeship. He was the son of a dairyman who secretly hoped to become a professional baseball player. Queen Elizabeth II probably was the only famous person in the 20th and 21st centuries who was genuinely herself all the time. She was born with a specific role and certain responsibilities, grew up within these expectations, understood them and knew how to live with them.
“My father said he found Queen Elizabeth ‘to be a woman of rare modesty and character,’” Franklin Graham said. “I personally believe her majesty’s personal faith is what kept her anchored to her life and her reign. She helped lead the Church of England for decades and proudly held the title of “Defender of the Faith.”
Billy and Ruth Graham met with the queen at least a dozen times at both Windsor and Sandringham for preaching engagements. Those visits deepened both their friendship and fellowship. He even made a pledge to pray for her and her family every day. He, in turn, watched her faith grow by leaps and bounds. She often discussed Jesus Christ in her public addresses, telling her fellow citizens hat she drew “strength from the message of hope in the Christian gospel, the same message of hope he gave to Winston Churchill when he was troubled by the world.
–Dwight Widaman |Metro Voice