Celebrities Talk About Experiences with Billy Graham in New "Chicken Soup for the Soul" Book

Evangelist Billy Graham has rubbed elbows with celebrities ranging from presidents to journalists to musicians. In "Billy Graham & Me," a new book in the "Chicken Soup for the Soul'' franchise that was released Tuesday (Feb. 12), 101 people who have met Graham on the public stage share their private memories of the 94-year-old preacher.

Pictured: Billy Graham (far left) with former Presidents (from left) George H.W. Bush, Jimmy Carter, and Bill Clinton. RNS photo courtesy Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.
Here are excerpts from 12 of them:

Former President George H.W. Bush

Billy came to stay with Barbara and me at the White House on the eve of the air war against Iraq. I told him what I was then having to do -- our diplomacy and our quest for a peaceful solution having failed. I told him when the first cruise missiles would hit Baghdad, and we watched in wonder as the war to liberate Kuwait began. Just the three of us were there. Billy said a little prayer for our troops and for the innocents who might be killed. The next day we attended a church service at Fort Meade. His very presence brought great comfort to the people in uniform who were praying at that special service.

I cannot begin to tell what Billy's presence and his faith meant to me as President and as Commander in Chief. His own beliefs and abiding faith gave me great strength.

Former President Bill Clinton, recalling Graham's 1959 crusade in Little Rock, Ark.

The crusade happened as Billy wanted it, with tens of thousands of people, black and white, pouring into the stadium where the Arkansas Razorbacks played. When Billy finished preaching and issued the call, inviting us to rededicate our lives to Christ, thousands, black and white together, some smiling, some crying, went down to the field to answer the call. It was a moment in Arkansas history after which nothing would be quite the same for those who were there and those who knew the stand Billy had taken. And Billy didn't have to preach one word about integrating the schools. All he had to speak was God's Word to all God's children. It may seem easy now, but back then, fifty years ago, it was an act of moral courage and deep faith.

Former CNN talk show host Larry King

The unhappiest and saddest moment for me was when I confronted him over the anti-Semitic conversation he had with President Nixon that was uncovered after the White House tapes were released. Nixon said, "Well, you know, the Jews..." and Billy said, "Yes..." I asked him about that, and he said that the toughest thing, if you were in a room with a president, and a president said something, is to take issue with him. So you either said yes or you nodded your head or suchlike. I didn't agree with Billy on this. For me, you don't say yes. I wouldn't have said yes. That disappointed me.


SOURCE: Adelle M. Banks
Religion News Service
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