40: Al Gore

40: Al Gore

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Billy Graham & Me

• 40 •

45th Vice President of the United States and Nobel Peace Prize winner; founder and chairman of The Climate Reality Project

There is a special grace about Billy Graham, a gentleness of spirit, a presence so filled with his love for God that one can almost immediately feel the depths of his devotion. Moreover, he has led while taking himself out of the message — allowing people to feel the power of God through his humility and to be touched not only by his words, but by his actions as well.

I grew up worshiping at a Baptist church, and later studied at Vanderbilt University’s Divinity School. I believed then, as I do today, that the greater purpose of life is glorifying God. I deeply respect and admire Billy Graham as someone who has indeed dedicated his entire life to that purpose — glorifying God.

For Billy, glorifying God also means honoring His creation. I once had a private dinner with Billy, where we talked for several hours about the global environment crisis and our shared belief that the earth is a creation of God, and to that end, we must be good stewards to insure that the planet is nurtured and protected. As he has explained, “The very first verse of the Bible says, ‘In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth’ (Genesis 1:1). When we see the world as a gift from God, we will do our best to take care of it and use it wisely, instead of poisoning or destroying it. We don’t worship the earth; instead, we realize that God gave it to us, and we are accountable to Him for how we use it.”

When I was given a tour of the Billy Graham Library, his son Franklin likewise spoke about the environmental concern that he shares with his father. “As a Christian,” Franklin said, “I am concerned about the planet that God has given to us. We have a responsibility to live on this earth and respect what He has given to us.” Billy’s Scripture-based interest in environmental issues was the basis for a workshop that we held here in Nashville, with 200 Christian ministers and lay leaders.

I have met many people of great power and celebrity during the course of my lifetime; yet, there has always been a special quality about Billy Graham. Billy’s love for God, which he says must extend to all people — to all of God’s creatures, and to the world that He has provided so that we may live in faith, health, and harmony — is a message that he has preached to millions across the planet — regardless of race, culture, nationality, ideology, or religion. He has worked to bridge the divide between liberals and conservatives, Republicans and Democrats, the rich and the poor — addressing issues that may separate us in order to unite us.

Simply put, Billy Graham is a man of integrity who has answered God’s call to preach a message of inclusion and compassion so that we might cherish one another and the world in which we all live.

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