In His Father's Steps

Dr. Franklin Graham speaks to FOL

by Sunny Joseph

Walking in one’s father’s footsteps is no easy thing especially if the father is a celebrity. Over the centuries, children have found it difficult to cope up with the pressures of living up to the good image of their fathers. Things were no different for Franklin Graham. The label son of Billy Graham, who is one of the world’s most successful preachers, sounds great and gives one a sense of aura but it has its many pitfalls. Franklin experienced those pitfalls from an early age. The pressure and the absurd expectations of the world hurled him into a web of ruthless criticism and undesired popularity. Living constantly under the pressure to carry an artificial testimony and a facade that was alien, Franklin sought relief in carousing and being a rebel. School expulsions, drugs, police calls were the order of the day. However, the rebel was soon brought to his knees. Today Franklin Graham fills his father’s big shoes admirably.

FOL : You are a legend in the making. With so many world wide projects such as Samaritan’s Purse and My Hope India which are superlative in their own sense, it is no ordinary responsibility being in the forefront of such great ministries. To many you are an enigmatic person in so many ways. What is your philosophy of life?
FG : I believe you just need to wake up each day and ask God "What do you want me to do?" and whatever or whever He is leading you follow it with all your heart. Just be obedient to Him.

FOL : Being the son of Dr. Billy Graham you must have had so many opportunities and open door readymade while you must have also experienced the other side of the coin. Could you tell us both the advantages and disadvantages of being the son of a world famous preacher?
FG : People ask me all the time "What is it like being the son of Billy Graham?" but he’s the only father I've ever had so I don't know what it is like to NOT be the son of Billy Graham. He’s my father and I'm proud of him, but I also know that there is only one Billy Graham. No one else can replace him, I certainly don't want to even try to fill his shoes. I just want to do what God has called me to do and do it to the best of my abilities.

FOL : Does the preaching style and the approach to ministry that you have and that your father Dr. Billy Graham had, do they differ?
FG : There will always be similarities and differences, but the most important thing is the message. We are preaching the same message of Jesus Christ that my father has preached for more than 60 years.

FOL : You father often stayed away from home on ministry assignment which affected the children to some extent or the other. How do you stay clear from such a things from being repeated in your family?
FG : I travel a lot but these days getting some where is easier than it was back then. Also, I'm a pilot so I fly myself whenever I go somewhere, so it’s easier for me to get back home to be with my family.

FOL : Because of Tsunami you could reach out to countries that were earlier not open to the Gospel. Do you find tsunami and such disasters as God sent opportunities to enter these places? I mean places like Indonesia?
FG : I don't know why disasters happen. I have many questions about the storms in life that we face, but I know that God can use anything for His glory. We want to be faithful to love and serve people whenever there is a need. We want to be there to respond and just trust that God will open doors to help these people.

FOL : Mention the countries that you had a tough time entering though it is helping them with relief and Samaritan Purse and how did you overcome such obstacles?
FG : We've faced difficult situations many, many times, but that is just part of providing emergency relief. Each country has different laws, different customs, and when a tragedy happens the infrastructure is often distrupted. So getting to the people is often hard, but that is what we do.

FOL : Samaritan Purse is reaching nearly to 60 countries in the world with 1.5 million boxes (please correct the figures if I am wrong.) What are your future plans concerning the number of countries or the boxes both...I mean whether the number would increase or decrease?
FG : This year we will take more than 8 million shoe box gifts to needy children in more than 100 countries through Operation Christmas Child. Each child is unique and each box is unique. God loves each child and that’s how we give out these boxes - one child at a time. I don't know how big this project will grow to be, but we just keep doing it one child at a time.

FOL : What is the next big project you have other than the ones you are presently operating?
FG : Next year we will have eight Festivals around the world - Hong Kong, Ecuador, Korea, Panama, Ukraine. We have a busy year ahead of us, but we are excited about what God is going to do through the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. With Samaritan’s Purse you never know where the next disaster, famine, or war will be, but we will be ready to serve and help those people in need when that day comes.


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