"If there is such a thing as a humble shepherd of the Lord, Billy Graham is that person," said George W. Bush earlier this week while speaking about American evangelist Billy Graham. "I'm unbelievably blessed to have met him."
When Bush spoke these words, he wasn't simply making a statement to fulfill a duty as former president. Rather, a story recently published by The Hill suggests that George W. Bush truly was deeply influenced by Graham, both before and after becoming president.
Evangelist Billy Graham, a confidant to US presidents and a guiding light to millions of American evangelicals, died on Wednesday morning. Graham was a popular American and international preacher and helped millions to convert to Christianity.
But Billy Graham didn't only help many people convert to Christianity. He also helped many Christians grow in their faith. This was certainly the case for several US presidents, including George W. Bush, who likely wouldn't have even become president if it weren't for Graham's influential voice.
The Hill writes that a 39-year-old George W. Bush attended a meeting organized by his father, where Billy Graham was present.
"I was on my third glass of wine, after a couple of beers before dinner," recalls Bush. "Billy's message had overpowered the booze."
The next morning, Billy Graham and George W. Bush went on a walk together. The future president expressed his desire to become a better person. Graham, always eager to help others grow closer to God, advised him to look to the life of Christ as a model.
Weeks later, Graham sent Bush a Bible. In a very subtle way, Graham deepened Bush's faith. Eventually, Bush went onto join a Bible study and made some significant changes in his life that were keeping him from being a better person. First and foremost, Bush claims that he quit drinking, which he wouldn't have been able to do if not for Graham's guidance.
“There's no way to know where my life would have headed if I hadn't made the decision to quit drinking. But I am certain that I would not be recording these thoughts as a former governor of Texas and president of the United States,” Bush wrote in his memoir, according to The Hill.
George W. Bush was also influenced by his father, George H.W. Bush, who had his faith spurred by a Billy Graham crusade.
And after becoming president and being forced to deal with the September 11 attack, George W. Bush writes that he remembered the wisdom of Billy Graham. Bush was particularly influenced by a very significant service provided by Billy Graham.
"In a difficult moment, Billy reminded me -- and us all -- where we can find strength," Bush wrote, according to CNN. "And he helped us start to heal by offering three lessons: the mystery and reality of evil, our need for each other, and hope for the present and future. 'As a Christian," Graham said at the 9/11 service, 'I have hope, not just for this life, but for heaven and the life to come.'"
According to CNN, Billy Graham evangelized more than 215 million people over his tremendous six decades of service to Christ. His voice was heard in 185 of the world's 195 countries, he reportedly helped an estimated 3 million people commit their lives to Christianity. He was one of the most dominant religious leaders of his era.
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