Near the end of his Australia tour, Franklin Graham sat down for a chat with Hope 103.2.
He spoke about his vision for Australia, his connections with powerful leaders, the influence of his father’s ministry—and most of all, the gospel.
It was exactly a year and a day since the death of his father, evangelist Billy Graham, when he met for his interview with Laura Bennett. But Franklin clearly wasn’t a man in mourning; he reflected instead on his dad’s new home: “People will say he passed away, but he didn’t pass away, he ‘graduated’”, Franklin said. “He went from earth to heaven. He’s in the presence of God.”
Reflecting on the impact Billy Graham made in 1959 on Australia – 60 years ago – Franklin said he was glad to be back in the country that his dad loved.
“[My father] was right in the middle of his ministry, when he was just beginning to become well-known,” he said. “He spent almost four months here in Australia and New Zealand and it had an impact on his life. He made so many friends… they became friends for his life. It’s something that means a lot to our family.”
One of those relationships Billy Graham formed was with media magnate Rupert Murdoch, who paved the way many times for Billy to share his message on Australian media.
His Influence With America’s Leaders
It seems Billy’s connection with high-level leaders is something that’s been passed down; Franklin himself now has connection and spiritual influence with US President Donald Trump and other leaders, and has often been seated next to Trump at important events. He aims to pray for those in power and to encourage them in spiritual matters.
“I have a call tomorrow with the Vice President of the United States, and he wants to have prayer because of [crisis in] Venezuela,” he said. “When they ask for prayer, I’m there.”
He also isn’t shy of giving leaders his opinions: “I travel a lot, I see the world, I’ve been working in Venezuela now for the last three years [with his aid organisation Samaritan’s Purse] sending food, so I’m very familiar with what’s going on there. And I want the White House to know the suffering that’s taking place, and that it can’t continue like this.”
“I have a call tomorrow with the Vice President of the United States… he wants to have prayer.”
As for his vision for Australia, Franklin’s plan is that both his organisations, Samaritan’s Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, will continue to grow and have an even greater impact.
There are plans for Samaritan’s Purse to build a large warehouse and office complex here, which will become a base to respond to disasters in this region of the world more quickly. And the BGEA has plans for more evangelistic events in the future.
“We want to build on what God has done here,” he said.
The Gospel is the Power of God
It’s a popular fun-fact that as a college student Franklin rebelled and was expelled; a fact he chuckles about now, and uses to illustrate the fact that “we’re all sinners”.
“I didn’t meet the school standards but we don’t meet God’s standards either and the only way we can is if we put our trust in Jesus Christ,” he said.
He isn’t ashamed of speaking about moral issues, nor the orthodox, no-holds-barred, gospel message.
“Criticism? I don’t pay much attention to it,” he said. “If I’ve made a mistake and people criticise it then I’ve earned it. But I believe in speaking out on moral issues.
“And we don’t need to be ashamed of the gospel because it’s the power of God. When we preach the gospel, Jesus dead, buried, risen, and that if we repent and turn from our sins we will be saved – there’s Holy Spirit-filled power in that.”