Congressman John Lewis said growing up in rural Alabama and hearing Graham's voice through the radio helped forge the course of his life.
"He helped changed me," said Lewis. "I grew up, I think, to a significant degree wanting to be a minister because of Billy Graham."
"The man is a saint," Lewis continued. "He helped make America better."
Former Atlanta Mayor and U.N. Ambassador Andrew Young remembered when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Graham met each other for the first time: two sons of the Jim Crow segregated South rising above it, each helping lift up the nation in mutual respect and admiration.
“Dr. Graham came up to Martin and said, 'Dr. King, I want to congratulate you on your courageous, prophetic ministry.' And Martin said, 'Well, Dr. Graham, it probably would not have been successful had it not been for your prophetic, pastoral and priestly ministry,'" Young remembered.
James Merritt, Senior Pastor of Cross Pointe Church in Duluth, a personal friend of Dr. Graham and his family, spoke of the profound impact Graham has had on his own ministry, on countless pastors and on countless millions of people around the world.
“Billy Graham is in heaven, not because he preached the Gospel, but because he believed the Gospel that he preached," Merritt said.
Lewis said Graham's legacy is eternal.
“He taught us the way of peace, the way of love, the way of hope," Lewis said.
Here are more local reactions:
Former President Jimmy Carter:
Rosalynn and I are deeply saddened to learn of the death of The Reverend Billy Graham. Tirelessly spreading a message of fellowship and hope, he shaped the spiritual lives of tens of millions of people worldwide. Broad-minded, forgiving, and humble in his treatment of others, he exemplified the life of Jesus Christ by constantly reaching out for opportunities to serve. He had an enormous influence on my own spiritual life, and I was pleased to count Reverend Graham among my advisers and friends.
Former Atlanta Mayor and U.N. Ambassador Andrew Young:
"He was such a father figure to the nation. He also had a very strong global ministry which I admired."
Watch Young's comments:
U.S. Senator David Perdue of Georgia:
“Reverend Graham was truly ‘America’s pastor.’ Over his lifetime, he was instrumental in counseling numerous presidents through some of our nation’s most difficult times. His work and dedication to Christ are an inspiration to many and will not soon be forgotten. Bonnie and I join the nation in lifting up the entire Graham family in prayer during this very difficult time.”
Congressman John Lewis:
“Billy Graham was a noble man — a true servant of God; he had the ability to speak truth to power. He was like a shepherd looking over the flock of humankind. He was a man of hope, a man of faith—a man of love, and he will be sorely missed.
“Many years ago, I first heard Billy Graham in person when I was a college student in Nashville, Tennessee. He was so inspiring. He taught us how to live and how to serve.
“A few short years ago I had the opportunity to visit him at his beautiful home in the North Carolina mountains. He was so warm and uplifting. You knew by being in his presence that he was a man of faith and patience. I will never forget the meeting I had with him.
“Billy Graham must be looked upon as a saint among humankind. I wish his family my deepest condolences during this period of mourning.”
Jentenzen Franklin, Senior Pastor of Free Chapel Worship Center and a member of President Donald Trump's ecumenical council:
Today we celebrate the life and legacy of Billy Graham. He’s a true hero of the faith, stopping at nothing to spread the gospel. I am forever inspired by the life he lived. ‘My home is in heaven, I am just passing through this world.’ Our thoughts and prayers are with the family.
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