Franklin Graham, the eldest son of the famed preacher Billy Graham who died last month at the age of 99, has shared with his followers on social media the 'simple' message written on this father's gravestone.
Graham wrote on Twitter that his father 'was laid to rest on the grounds of @TheBGLibrary' beside his wife, Ruth, and the etching reads:
Preacher of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ
The verse reads, 'Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me"'.
Graham wrote in another tweet that his father has said, 'I'm prepared to die, in fact I'm looking forward to it – And when you're prepared to die, you're also prepared to live.'
The Christian Post (CP) reported that earlier, he explained on the Today TV show the reason behind the epitaph: 'When my mother passed away, we knew what she wanted on her tombstone. So I asked father so there wouldn't be any argument among us children. "Daddy, what do you want on your tombstone?" And he thought about that. He said "preacher". He spent his life telling people about heaven, how to get to heaven. He wrote books on heaven. Now he's in heaven and he would want me to tell everybody watching that if you put your faith and trust in God's son, Jesus Christ, that you can be in Heaven too.'
Also paying tribute, the country music singer-songwriter Mallory Hope quoted Billy Graham as once saying: 'I am not going to heaven because I have preached to great crowds or read the Bible many times. I'm going to Heaven just like the thief on the cross who said in that last moment: "Lord, remember me."'
Meanwhile, CP reported that more than 62,000 people have signed an online petition calling for a national holiday to honour the evangelist who, according to the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, preached the Gospel live to nearly 215 million people in more than 185 countries and territories, and hundreds of millions of more people through the media.
The petition, titled, 'Let's get a National Holiday for Billy Graham!!' reads: 'Mr Graham's counsel was sought by presidents, and his appeal in both the secular and religious arenas is evidenced by the wide range of groups that have honoured him, including numerous honorary doctorates from many institutions in the US and abroad.'
Graham, a Southern Baptist, died peacefully at his North Carolina home after suffering various health problems linked to his advanced age.
At her father's funeral on Friday in Charlotte, North Carolina, Billy Graham's daughter, Anne Graham Lotz, urged the Church, the world, and herself to 'wake up!' as she joined her siblings and some 2,000 others at the emotional service.
She said: 'I believe, from heaven's perspective, that my father's death is as significant as his life. And his life was very significant. But I think when he died, that was something very strategic from heaven's point of view.
'My father also is a great liberator. He brought millions of people out of bondage to sin and it gets us to the edge of heaven, edge of the Promised Land, and then God has called him home. And could it be that God is going to bring Joshua to lead us into the Promised Land to lead us to heaven?'
Franklin, the founder of Samaritan's Purse and chief executive of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, gave the keynote address at the funeral.
He spoke of how his parents had loved each other, and of how his mother's death had left 'a big hole' in his father's heart.
'The Billy Graham that the world saw on television, the Billy Graham that the world saw in the big stadiums, was the same Billy Graham we saw at home,' he said. 'All of us children came to see the world and our father in heaven through my father's eyes.'
He recalled his father's voice, 'booming, proclaiming the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ'.