As word spread of the passing of Mr. Graham on Wednesday morning, a steady stream of people made their way to the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, North Carolina. Many hadn’t planned a visit but felt pulled there—and to be near others also experiencing the great loss.
Sherilyn Washington works in the Library’s Guest Services.
“People are shocked, sad and happy at the same time, knowing that Mr. Graham is with the Lord, and also his wife, Ruth.
“They’re weeping and leaving flowers and at the same time are happy for him.”
Darryl Stackhouse and his friend Derry Haywood, both pastors, came after hearing the news. Darryl told his friend, “Coming to this Library will enhance your preaching and your wanting to do more for Christ because of all the impact Billy Graham had on the world.”
Haywood, 31, visiting from Richmond, Virginia, feels blessed he was in town during this time.
“A man that is as well renowned as Reverend Graham deserves to have homage paid and respects, just for the legacy that he’s lived and for all of the work.”
Derry remembers watching Billy Graham’s Crusades on TV.
“It was just amazing as he would preach the Gospel, just seeing thousands come at a time. You never really see that that often except when you read about it in the Book of Acts, when people were added to the church daily.”
He said that’s what he thinks of when he thinks about Mr. Graham.
“You get to see [that] in the 21st century—someone who is still walking under that type of mantle.”
Miriam Pustaver, from Chicago, Illinois, was one of those thousands Derry referred to. She calls Billy Graham’s 1971 Chicago Crusade the beginning of her journey of faith.
“I really didn’t have a relationship with Jesus Christ,” she said, before going forward when Billy Graham gave the invitation to receive Christ. Her faith grew exponentially, though, as she studied materials she received from a Crusade counselor and started attending a Bible-teaching church.
Wednesday, her eyes misted as she recalled that night in Chicago while visiting the Library that bears the evangelist’s name.
“It’s kind of reliving that experience. I really feel that it was through Billy Graham’s preaching that God used him to bring me to this point in my life.”
It’s an emotional day for many, Library volunteer Tom Winn noted, adding those coming are especially open about sharing their needs and concerns with prayer volunteers.
“They want to in some way embrace what’s going on, and be part of the legacy Billy has left us.”
“We’re mourning,” he said. “But we’re also taking great joy in what’s going on [here].”