Local News

Graham's daughter says she hopes his death will 'shake the church'

Posted February 26, 2018 6:05 p.m. EST
Updated July 13, 2018 1:42 p.m. EDT

— The late evangelist Billy Graham may have one final fiery crusade in him, according to his daughter, who said Monday that she prays his death "will be something to shake the church."

"I believe my father's death is heaven's shot across the bow. It's time for the church to wake up," Anne Graham Lotz said in an interview with WRAL News. "It's time for the world to wake up because you're not promised tomorrow. You need to decide now where you're going to spend eternity."

Organized religion has been failing people, Lotz said.

"That's why this nation is in a mess. We've lost our focus. We've lost our message," Lotz said. "People go to church, but they're not getting what they're going for."

Churches need to get back to showing people how to read the Bible and pray to develop a personal relationship with Jesus – the type of message Graham preached for decades in crusades around the world, she said.

"We're so divided. There's so much anger, so much polarization, and Jesus is the answer," she said. "If you look at my Daddy's life, he cuts across all those divides, whether it's a racial divide, a political divide, a social divide. People all across the spectrum love and honor Billy Graham. Why? Because of his message and because he presented Jesus, and Jesus is the one who unifies us and brings us together."

Graham's death has left a void in her life, Lotz said, but she's also at peace.

"I know Daddy's in heaven. I have every confidence I'm going to see him again. But inside, I feel empty, and it's not easy," she said.

She said she's found comfort in the outpouring of love people have shown for the family since her father's death last Wednesday, noting the thousands of people that lined the route from Asheville to Charlotte on Saturday as a motorcade took Graham's body to his boyhood home in preparation for his funeral.

"It was so moving, I was in tears, but I found myself comforted just by the love of people in this state," she said. "North Carolina is our home and Daddy's home, and it just felt like being surrounded by family."

Lotz's family surrounded Graham during her final visit with him, and she said her 11-year-old granddaughter told him she loved him as the family was leaving. Graham answered back, "I love you."

"That was the last words we heard him say," Lotz said. "That's enough."