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Billy Graham's Pastor: 'Everything with Dr. Graham Was Backward'

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CHARLOTTE, NC – With presidents, dignitaries, and well-known Christian leaders from around the world expected to attend, Billy Graham's funeral would appear to be a high-profile event on the surface.
Yet the picture consistently painted by the people who knew him best is the exact opposite – a portrait of a humble man who had a proclivity of elevating others.
"Everything with Dr. Graham was backward," explained Dr. Don Wilton, who served as Billy Graham's pastor.

"Every time you were with him ... he always made the other person feel as though they were the most important."
Yet the significance of the world-renowned evangelist cannot be underplayed.
When you fly into Charlotte, even before the first "welcome" sign, visitors will see roadways that bear his name.
Government buildings and businesses have lowered their flags to half-staff in honor North Carolina's revered son.
And as crews work around-the-clock to prepare for his memorial service, network and local reporters fill the airwaves with live updates from the parking lot of the Billy Graham Library, the site of Friday's planned funeral and eventual burial place.

MORE: Billy Graham Memorial Event Schedule
The family is transforming the parking lot into a tent-style revival to serve as a tribute to his popular crusade events through the decades.
When President Donald Trump and other dignitaries join the family to honor Rev. Graham, they will sit under the shadow of the library's 40-foot glass cross – accentuating the faith to which he dedicated his entire life.
Dr. Wilton provided a rare glimpse into Graham's private life, telling CBN News the two often laughed and enjoyed watching golf or baseball on television, playing with their dogs, or talking about their families. Yet, above all, Wilton explained was Graham's "passion for the Gospel" and his "fervency for praying for people."
Serving as a pastor to the man dubbed "America's pastor" or "Counselor to the Presidents" should be daunting, but Wilton said his friend had a trademark way of making it easy.
"God has privileged me in having a mentor that spoke into my life and told me and share with me and asked me and put the fear of the Lord into me," Winton recounted. "He would frequently ask me questions as though I were the one who knew the answer."

READ: Billy Graham to Lie in Honor in US Capitol Rotunda, Funeral Will Be Under a 'Canvas Cathedral'
Humility is a consistent characteristic echoed by many others who knew him well.

"You don't reach the world by walking over people, and he certainly cared about everybody he was with as I observed him through the years," Rep. Robert Pitternger, R-N.C., recalled.
The two met on a golf course in 1971 as Pittenger was concluding his senior year in college.
"Dr. Graham was playing with Bob Hope, Arnold Palmer, and Byron Nelson, and I got to be his caddy."
Afterward, the evangelist gave him a Scofield Bible, signed it, and thanked him for his help.
Throughout his life, Rev. Graham always had a message to share with others. Now, in death, people are responding with messages of their own to honor him at his public memorial at the Billy Graham Training Center at the Cove in Asheville.
"I look up to him," explained Reshma Knupp, a native of the Fiji Islands. She told CBN News his sermons had a profound impact on her when she was in Bible school.
Barbara Mitchell has spent the past 27 years working at Graham's training center. She said he was a lifeline when she was growing up in a dysfunctional home.
"He gave me hope as a little girl," she explained. "His messages were so simple that a child could understand. And that child was me."
Carolyn Dunlap came with her 83-year-old mother, Dolores Treece, who became a Christian at a Billy Graham Crusade in Greensboro in 1952.
"I was 17 years old... and I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior and Lord," Treece recalled.
Dunlap credits Graham's ministry for her mother being "a shining example for our whole family of how to live for Jesus."
"She's had breast cancer, stroke, and  heart condition, and she's still going because she's a believer," Dunlap added.
The Rev. Dr. Johnny Tiller, 91, met Graham in 1947, two years before he rose to prominence.
"I heard him preach before he became famous at the Gospel Tabernacle," Rev. Tiller recalled.
Tiller told CBN News he believes Graham got a "royal welcome" in heaven and insists his life made an incredible difference on the world.
"He made it a better place in which to live," he said. "No doubt about that!"
Still, while many honor Graham's legacy, Rev. Wilton believes prayer for Graham's family and the future is what the evangelist would cherish most.
"Pray for the Graham family. They've lost their daddy, their grandfather, their best friend," he said. "Pray for them in this journey."
"Secondly, pray for the furtherance of the Gospel. That would be Mr. Graham's greatest desire," Wilton added.


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About The Author

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John Jessup serves as the main news anchor for CBN, based at the network's news bureau in Washington, D.C. He joined CBN News in September 2003, starting as a national correspondent and then covering the Pentagon and Capitol Hill. His work in broadcast news has earned him several awards in reporting, producing, and coordinating election coverage. While at CBN, John has reported from several places, including Moore, Oklahoma, after the historic EF5 tornado and parts of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas devastated by Hurricane Katrina. He also traveled to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, during the height