by Alex Murashko
Newscast Media NEW YORK—Renowned evangelist Billy Graham is asking Iran’s president Hassan Rouhani for the release of Pastor Saeed Abedini from prison, pointing out that such an action might be perceived by U.S. leaders as a significant step in reducing tensions.
“On September 26, the one-year anniversary of Pastor Abedini’s imprisonment, thousands will attend prayer vigils in more than 70 U.S. cities, calling on your country to release this husband, father and servant of God,” Graham writes in a letter addressed to Rouhani and published on the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association website. “I join them by respectfully asking you to release Pastor Saeed Abedini from prison. Such an action would, I believe, have a positive impact in our nation, and might well be perceived by our leadership as a significant step in reducing tensions.”
Abedini has been in Evin Prison in Tehran since his arrest last year, and was later sentenced to eight years in jail, supposedly for endangering national security. The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) recently launched the largest campaign in its history aimed at sending thousands of letters each week to Rouhani, petitioning for the U.S. pastor. The ACLJ, which represents his wife, Naghmeh, and their two young children in the U.S., says that Iran has targeted the pastor for his Christian faith.
Despite a worldwide petition signed by close to 650,000 people, and top U.S. officials, such as Secretary of State John Kerry, calling on Iran to release the pastor, who has suffered beatings and been placed in solitary confinement, the Islamic republic has refused to listen to pleas for his release. In addition, the Tehran Court of Appeals declined to reduce Abedini’s 8-year sentence in August.
On Monday, Naghmeh Abedini was able to hand-deliver a letter to Rouhani’s delegation in their hotel lobby while in New York to attend the U.N General Assembly, according to news reports. In the note, she asked for her husband’s quick release, according to her attorneys.
In Graham’s letter to Rouhani, he writes that as a religious leader he has have often spoken, both publicly and privately, with U.S. leadership about the need for greater understanding and peace among the nations of the world. “As you come to the United States this week for the U.N. General Assembly in New York, it is my sincere hope that ways may be found to reduce the current tensions between the United States and the Islamic Republic of Iran,” he states.
by Michael Gryboski
Newscast Media CHARLOTTE—Billy Graham, the famous preacher and evangelist, has been honored by North Carolina lawmakers with the title of “Favorite Son” of the state. North Carolina’s House and Senate each approved resolutions Wednesday that honored both the 94-year-old Graham and his late wife, Ruth Bell Graham.
“The Senate honors the memory of Ruth Bell Graham, who made significant contributions to our State and nation through her partnership with her husband in marriage and ministry,” reads the Senate version.
“The Senate honors and names Billy Graham as North Carolina’s Favorite Son … The Senate requests the Governor to set a day to recognize and honor Billy Graham as North Carolina’s Favorite Son.”
Will Graham, Billy Graham’s grandson and vice president for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, told The Christian Post that his family was “deeply honored.”
“This is an extremely kind gesture on their part to honor my grandfather. We love the state of North Carolina. It’s where my grandfather was born and raised, where he and my grandmother raised their family, and where his ministry is now located,” said Will Graham.
“Again, we’re just very humbled and grateful for the kind gesture, and appreciative of the support from the state of North Carolina.”
Will Graham also told CP that while he was not in attendance for the resolution’s passing, other members of the Graham family were present.
“My father, Franklin Graham, and my aunt, Anne Graham Lotz, were there to represent my grandfather. A few other family members were present as well,” said Graham.
Introduced by North Carolina State Senator Dan Soucek, Senate Resolution 196 passed unanimously with a vote 48 yeas to zero nays.
by Michael Gryboski
Newscast Media CHARLOTTE—The Rev. Franklin Graham, son of the famous evangelist the Rev. Billy Graham, has stated that he believes that America is on a “path of destruction” due to yesterday’s election results. In an interview with CNN last night, Graham explained that the path he was referring to involved, among other things, the legalization of same-sex marriage.
“If we are allowed to go down this road in the path that this president wants us to go down, I think it will be to our peril and to the destruction of this nation,” Graham said.
Yesterday, after years of successes at the ballot box, supporters of marriage as defined between one man and one woman were handed four defeats in four states. Voters in Minnesota stopped a constitutional amendment from being added to the state’s constitution; same-sex marriage does, however, remain illegal in the North Star State.
During the 2012 election campaign season, the Grahams were heavily involved in socially conservative causes and the presidential race. The Rev. Billy Graham had endorsed Republican challenger Mitt Romney after meeting with the former Massachusetts Governor. Graham also endorsed Minnesota’s marriage amendment.
“As a former resident with strong personal and ministry ties to the North Star State, I pray that the good people of Minnesota will show their support for God’s definition of marriage, between a man and a woman,” said Billy Graham.
This is not the first time that Franklin Graham has gained headlines for his critical remarks surrounding President Barack Obama. In May, Graham released a statement in response to the president’s announcement in favor of same-sex marriage, declaring that Obama had “shaken his fist at the same God who had created and defined marriage.”
“It grieves me that our president would now affirm same-sex marriage, though I believe it grieves God even more,” said Graham in May.
In October, Graham said in an interview with Piers Morgan on CNN that Obama’s support for gay marriage was a “big problem.”
“God instituted marriage. And for the president to now back something that is against God’s position and – is a big problem for him with not only Evangelical churches, but African-American churches across this country who are very conservative,” said Franklin Graham.
by Paul Stanley
Newscast Media RALEIGH, North Carolina—Renowned evangelist Billy Graham issued a statement voicing his support for an amendment that would define marriage as between a man and a woman, just under a week before North Carolina citizens will vote on the issue. Notably, Graham’s endorsement is rare given that he typically avoids political issues.
“At 93, I never thought we would have to debate the definition of marriage,” Graham said in his statement on Wednesday. “The Bible is clear – God’s definition of marriage is between a man and a woman. I want to urge my fellow North Carolinians to vote for the marriage amendment on Tuesday, May 8. God bless you as you vote.”
The elder Graham is not the only one in this powerful family to lend their support to the state’s marriage amendment. In April, Anne Graham Lotz and her brother Franklin Graham also publicly endorsed a “yes” vote for the measure.
Supporters of the measure called the elder Graham’s backing “significant.”
“Reverend Graham understands that we as North Carolinians have a duty to preserve God’s first institution – marriage,” said Tami Fitzgerald, chairwoman of Vote FOR Marriage NC, in her statement. “We cannot be silent as activists work to radically redefine marriage – an institution that has been fundamental to our civilization for thousands of years.”
Some were surprised by Graham’s public statement, saying he has historically avoided commenting on political hot-button issues. However, Southeastern Baptist Seminary President Danny Akin told Politico that he’s not surprised to hear Graham comment on this issue.
“I think he would see this as I do, not so much as a political issue – which it is – but a moral issue,” said Akin. “He believes it’s right to affirm that marriage should be understood as a covenant between a man and a woman.”
On the other hand, President Obama and other Democrat and liberal leaders claim the measure is discriminatory and would be unfair to homosexuals who want to marry.
“While the president does not weigh in on every single ballot measure in every state, the record is clear that the President has long opposed divisive and discriminatory efforts to deny rights and benefits to same-sex couples,” Obama’s North Carolina spokesperson, Cameron French, said in mid-March.
A Public Policy Polling survey released on Tuesday revealed that likely voters will support the measure 55-41 percent, or by a hefty margin of 14 percent.
Over 211,000 votes have been cast early and the issue is expected to generate a high turnout among voters. http://www.newscastmedia.com/marriage-amendment.htm
Newscast Media CHARLOTTE, NC — As evangelist Billy Graham approaches his 92nd birthday on Sunday, Nov. 7, he reflects on ministry events of the past year, as he continues to look for ways he can further serve the Lord in his remaining years.
“I am amazed every time I think of how many years the Lord has given me on this earth,” Mr. Graham said. “I am grateful for His blessing on our ministry for more than six decades, but wonder if there is something more He has for me to accomplish.”
In addition to work on a book project on the aging process that he has been writing over the last few years, Mr. Graham continues to attend Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) Board meetings as he is able. This year marked a milestone anniversary for the organization he founded in Minneapolis sixty years ago. “The Hour of Decision” with Billy Graham – one of Christian radio’s longest running programs – also turned 60 this week, and continues to broadcast in five languages in 55 countries on six continents.
“I always enjoy hearing the reports from ongoing BGEA evangelistic events, including festivals held by my son, Franklin, and celebrations conducted by my grandson, Will,” Mr. Graham said. “Under Franklin’s leadership, the ministry has reached new audiences in new ways I would never have dreamed, incorporating many modern technologies and creative strategies to share the same message of God’s love around the world.”
Mr. Graham has had a busy year since his last birthday, in which he has hosted various friends, family and ministry colleagues in his log cabin home in western North Carolina, and has received personal visits from several national political leaders. These include former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin late last November, and President Barack Obama, who became the first sitting U.S. President to call on Mr. Graham at home when he stopped by for coffee while vacationing in nearby Asheville, NC, this past April. Mr. Graham also attended the re-opening of the Billy Graham Library earlier this year, following a three-month renovation to
update the exhibits.
“I have been honored by so many visitors, and grateful for the opportunity to pray with them as we discussed what is going on in the world today,” Mr. Graham said. “Recently, I have been praying for renewal in the Church in America and international revival. This includes specific prayers for the Third Lausanne Congress on Global Evangelization held down in Cape Town, South Africa, last month. We first began holding these global leadership gatherings in 1961, and I believe they are so important as we work together with our Christian brothers and sisters around the world in spreading the good news of the Gospel message.
“While I don’t know what the future holds for me, I still look for ways to serve the Lord,” Mr. Graham continued. “Most of all, I look forward to serving Him in Heaven one day, alongside my dear wife Ruth, who I miss more every year.” http://newscastmedia.com/billy-graham92.htm
SOURCE: Billy Graham Evangelistic Association