By Messenger Staff & Southern Seminary

William Franklin “Billy” Graham, the Southern Baptist evangelist famous for his evangelistic crusades around the world, died today at his home in Asheville, N.C., a spokesman for the family confirmed. He was 99.

Graham, the internationally-renowned evangelist and evangelical leader, preached to nearly 215 million people in more than 185 countries, more than anyone else in history, according to his organization’s website. He reached incalculably more people through television, video, film and web.

Graham made multiple trips to Oklahoma. Anthony Jordan, BGCO executive director-treasurer, who played a leadership role in the crusade, said of Graham, “Dr. Graham was one of the great men of God of history. His simple yet clear and powerful preaching of Jesus Christ was used to transform millions of lives. I was privileged to serve as vice chairman of his last crusade in Oklahoma City (in 2003). To spend time with Dr. Graham was to spend time with a humble and deeply spiritual man of God.”

Hance Dilbeck, BGCO executive director-treasurer elect, added, “Billy Graham lived and served with the essential qualities of integrity, humility and simplicity. He focused on preaching the Gospel of Christ crucified, and his contributions to the Kingdom of God cannot be overstated.”

Graham leaves behind his children Virginia, Anne Morrow, Ruth Bell, William Franklin III, Nelson Edman, as well as 19 grandchildren and many great-grandchildren. Graham’s wife of 63 years, Ruth Bell Graham, died in 2007.

Look for further coverage in an upcoming edition of the Baptist Messenger.