Americans are gathering with their families to celebrate Christmas — and the Rev. Franklin Graham tells Newsmax TV that it is important to remember its true meaning: “That God so loved the world that he gave his son.”
“This is the message of Christmas. It’s about giving. That God gave his son for our sins. And the Bible says that we have all sinned, and we’ve all come short of God’s glory,” Graham, the son of world-renowned evangelist Billy Graham, tells Newsmax in an exclusive interview. “We’ve all come short of his standard. And the Bible tells us that the wages of sin is death. That’s the penalty.
“But yet, it’s because of God’s love that he doesn’t want to see us perish,” Graham added. “He doesn’t want to see us separated from him, so he sent his son on a rescue mission to save the human race. Jesus Christ came to take our sins — and he died on a cross and shed his blood on a cross for our sins and he was buried for our sins.
“We deserve to be in the grave. We deserve death. But he did it in our place. He took our sins, and then God raised him to life. And if we’re willing to accept that by faith and believe by faith, God will forgive our sins, He’ll heal our hearts — and we can have that hope of eternal life. And that’s the message of Christmas.”
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 9 million children in 110 countries via its “Operation Christmas Child” program.
This year, the effort reaches two milestones: its 20th year and its hundredth-million “shoebox” gift.
“We ask individuals to take an empty shoebox and pack it with toys for a child,” Graham said. “We go to the poorest countries of the world. And we ask everybody to put their picture in the box. I want the kid who gets the box to see who gave them that box. Put your address in there. I want them to be able to write you back if they can. Not all of them will but many will.
“And then pray. Pray for that child,” Graham instructed. “We know God hears prayer and that he’ll answer the prayer of a righteous person. Can you imagine 9 million people praying for 9 million children what God might do?”
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As for the celebrations, he said: “It’s a testimony as to what God has done — and we’re very thankful to God for giving this program and allowing us to help the children around the world. Every shoebox is different. They’re like snowflakes. There are no two boxes alike.”
But Christmas has been very different at the Graham family home in Montreat, N.C., since the death of their mother, Ruth Bell Graham, in 2007 just days after her 87th birthday.
“For him, it’s a little sad,” Graham said of his 94-year-old father. “He misses my mom so much, and she was such a driving force in his life. When you hear the word ‘soul mate,’ ‘helpmate,’ she was every bit of that. She was not just his lover, his best friend. So he misses her and that’s hard.
“Some of the family will be with him for Christmas Day and open gifts and that sort of thing, but when you’re 94, you don’t care about the gifts,” Franklin Graham added. “He just wants his family around him.”
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