As Americans gather with their families to celebrate Christmas, the Rev. Franklin Graham decries the continuing cultural “war” against Christ and his believers.
The campaign against Christianity rages “not just in America, but in many countries around the world,” the noted evangelist and son of world-renowned preacher Billy Graham declares during an exclusive interview with Newsmax.TV.
Also during his Christmas message to America via Newsmax, Graham reveals that his inspirational father fully intends to return to the pulpit. The last time the elder Graham preached was in July 2006, during a revival at Baltimore’s Camden Yards. But Franklin says his father’s joy during the Christmas season remains undiminished.
“My father loves Christmas because we’re celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ, and my father, his entire life has been about sharing this wonderful message of God’s love for the world,” he says.
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That love is lost on much of the world, Franklin says. “Christmas is about celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ,” he says. “And Christians around the world want to celebrate that. And yet the secularists are wanting to take Christ out of our society, take him out of any public event.”
Graham also strongly chastised the U.S. military, which has restricted Christians displays of faith.
“Chaplains in the United States military are not allowed to pray in the name of Jesus Christ. Isn’t that a shame that a chaplain in the Christian faith is not allowed to pray in the name of Christ? So yes, there is a war, no question about it.”
Franklin Graham himself has felt the sting of the hostility, when Pentagon officials excluded him from participation in this year’s National Day of Prayer event, citing his controversial comments about the dangers of radical Islam.
Graham, president and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, also heads Samaritan’s Purse, an international Christian relief organization that distributes Christmas presents to 8 million children in 110 countries.
“Christmas is about God’s son, Jesus Christ, coming to this earth,” he says. “The Bible says that God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosover believeth on him shouldn’t perish, but have eternal life. Christmas is about God’s love. And that hasn’t changed.”
However, Graham acknowledges, Christmas has become increasingly commercialized.
“We spend a lot of time going to stores or shopping, giving gifts, exchanging gifts. But we do that because we are reminded of the greatest gift that has been given, and that is God giving his son to take our sins . . . He can come into each and every heart that invites him. And so Christmas is about God’s love for us.”
As for his world-renowned father, Graham says: “My father at 92 still has the desire to preach. And he’s hoping to preach one more time this next year. And we’re working to get him to hopefully get him enough strength where he can do that.”
Billy Graham still shares “God’s love with everyone who will listen,” Franklin says. But the elder Graham, whose sermons have been viewed in person by an estimated 215 million people, deeply misses his wife, Ruth, who died in June 2007.
“He misses my mother, and she was such a big part of his life,” the younger Graham tells Newsmax. “She passed away three years ago. And he knows that it won’t be long that he will join her in heaven in the presence of almighty God.”
Other highlights from Franklin Graham’s Newsmax interview:
- He wonders whether President Barack Obama will reach out to evangelicals and mainstream Christians following the GOP’s midterm landslide. “He has reached out to those on the left,” Graham says. “But I’m not sure that he’s been reaching out to those of us in the evangelical community. I hope he would. We certainly want to support the president. The Bible tells us that we are to pray for those that are in over us. And I certainly think there are a lot of Christians that would work with him if he wanted that.”
- Graham believes U.S. presidents, including Obama, have failed to address the problem of Iran properly for more than two decades. “Their whole goal is to defeat the West and impose Islamic Shariah law over the entire world. And I’m afraid that, when the Iranians do get nuclear weapons, they’re going to use them. So we better stop them while we can.”
- Operation Christmas Child and SamaritansPurse.org continue to thrive in their mission of showing God’s love to disadvantaged youths worldwide. “We go to war areas, we go to famine areas, we go to areas of great poverty, like where I was this past week in Haiti giving out shoeboxes” filled with a variety of gifts for children, he tells Newsmax. “For many of these children, it’s the only gift, it’s the first gift, that they’ve ever gotten in their life. It’s a wonderful opportunity to let them know the world hasn’t forgotten them, God hasn’t forgotten them, and that he loves them.”
- The sudden death of Afghanistan-Pakistan Ambassador Richard Holbrooke because of a torn aorta is a sobering reminder of the fleeting nature of life because “we don’t know if we’re going to live to the next moment,” Graham says, adding, “Are we prepared and are we ready to stand before a holy God? And I would encourage everyone, if they haven’t invited Christ into their heart, if they haven’t trusted God’s son, to do that by inviting Christ to come into their life. And they can have that hope of eternal life, and have that assurance that when we stand before God our sins are forgiven and he’ll receive us and accept us for eternity to be with him.”
Graham also offers a special message of hope this Christmas to all Americans suffering from the economic downturn: God “hasn’t turned his back on you. Jesus said, ‘I am the way.’ He said, ‘I am the truth and the life. No man comes to the Father but by me.’ And this Christmas, if you’re willing to put your faith and trust in Jesus Christ, God’s son, God will heal your heart, he’ll forgive your sins. And you can have that hope of eternal life.”
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