Published February 22, 2018
WINDOW ROCK – Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye and Vice President Jonathan Nez expressed their condolences at the passing of Reverend Billy Graham, who passed away Wednesday morning in his home in Montreat, North Carolina. Reverend Graham was 99.
“Billy Graham has been a voice of faith for many years,” President Begaye said. “He has regularly reached out to Indian tribes and Indian tribes have embraced him as a religious leader. Navajo Christian leaders will greatly miss him, but his voice and messages will live on forever.”
Graham spoke about Christianity across the country and helped make the religion more accessible. For years, his sermons were broadcast on the radio and many Navajos tuned in.
“My family and I are sad to hear of the loss of Billy Graham,” Vice President Nez said. “He was a strong voice of faith among Navajo Christians and his loss is felt here in our nation. Our prayers are with his family and loved ones.”
Graham was highly influential as a Christian leader. He had meetings with every United States President in the second half of the 20th century to today offering spiritual and political advice.
At a 1975 conference held in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Graham said to Native American Christian leaders, “You are a sleeping giant, the original American. You are now awakening. Just around the corner, you may become a spiritual superpower in this country that could change not only America but the world.”
Vice President Nez said that he believes the Navajo Nation “has awakened” and is beginning to help take its place in helping the world with the Navajo Nation Christian Response Team serving as a prime example.
“For years, outside missionaries came to tribal lands to teach the Gospel,” Vice President Nez said. “Now we are the missionaries preaching the Good News to others.”