Local pastors say we need more people like Billy Graham

Area pastors said the late Rev. Billy Graham, who died this week at age 99, was very special.

“The most remarkable thing about him was his longevity,” said Rev. Brian Skar, pastor at Immanuel Baptist Church in Minot. “He went at it for a long time.”

Skar remembered watching the Billy Graham crusades on TV when he was young.

He noted that Graham preached in well over 100 countries during a long career that stretched back to the 1940s and served as an advisor to presidents of both political parties.

“I think he showed a lot of class,” said Skar. “He stayed consistent with preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

Skar said Graham never really got tangled up in politics, but counseled both Republicans and Democrats. People across the political spectrum listened to him.

He also had strong organizational talents and wasn’t just good at preaching but “organizing so he could move that pulpit” to countries all over the world.

“He was a remarkable man,” said Skar.

Rev. Ellery Dykeman, a new pastor at First Lutheran Church in Minot, said he respected Graham as a man of integrity and character.

“I felt he always led with love,” said Dykeman. “That was kind of how he reached people. He walked the talk.”

Even though Graham was from the South, he had the ability to relate to people from many different backgrounds, including people in North Dakota, said Dykeman.

Rev. David Widerski, pastor at Trinity Church in Minot, said the world could use more pastors like Billy Graham.

“Billy Graham was just a great evangelical Christian man, a godly man and a leader for the evangelical Christian movement in the U.S.,” said Widerski, who said Graham expressed his love of God through Jesus Christ in a unique way.

“He was just a really great voice of love and reason,” said Widerski, who also admired the way Graham reached across the aisle to work with people from both political parties.

Rev. Mark Frueh, pastor at Cornerstone Presbyterian Church in Minot, said Graham had an “immeasurable” impact.

“He brought John 3:16 into every home and heart. He pointed people to the cross at Calvary, and then helped each listener to receive a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ,” said Frueh in an email. “With their own personal lives now changed by Jesus, these individuals would now go on to impact the lives of their family, friends, co-workers, and everyone else they would then interact with throughout their lifetime. How do you even begin to measure that? I know of countless numbers of individuals whose lives were changed forever when they responded to Billy Graham’s altar call as “Just as I am” was being sung.”