Billy Graham's words of wisdom gave Buncombe woman a lifetime of comfort

FILE - In this June 27, 1954 file photo, Evangelist Billy Graham speaks to over 100,000 Berliners at the Olympic Stadium in Berlin, Germany. Graham, who transformed American religious life through his preaching and activism, becoming a counselor to presidents and the most widely heard Christian evangelist in history, has died. Spokesman Mark DeMoss says Graham died at his home in North Carolina on Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2018. He was 99. (AP Photo, File)

News 13's Person of the Week is one of the most influential people of the past century. Reverend Billy Graham touched countless people over the course of his life.

"He made such an impact on the whole world. It wasn't just a few people, the whole world knows who he is," said Judi Davis, who shared an example of Graham's impact that speaks volumes.

By the numbers, Graham preached to some 215 million people in over 185 countries, but Davis said the footprint of his faith is even bigger than that.

"No, there's been billions of people -- billions," she said.

Judi became a Graham fan as a little girl, long before he shook hands with virtually every modern president and became a famous man of faith. You might say it was her brush with greatness.

"This is my father Dewey Davis and me," she said referring to a picture. "I was about six years old back in the era when he sold Fuller Brushes."

Back then, Graham sold Fuller Brushes used for household cleaning.

"'I'm the number one salesman in North Carolina,' that's what he said," she recalled. "And the pin said 'Number One.'"

Davis and her family lived in Asheville and got to know him at gatherings held to sell those brushes. When he decided to leave that job, Judy said Billy grabbed her hand to make a powerful point.

"'God will never let go of you, no matter how hard you try, he will never let go of you. Don't forget that'," she remembered. "I thought he was playing a little game with me."

She said that sage advice was some 70 years ago, long before Graham became an evangelical icon. But through the worst of times in her life, those words resonated.

"All through my life, and I was 8 years old at that point, I've been in situations," she said. "And that comes to my mind right away. 'God don't let go of me,' and I say, 'God, I know you won't let go of me.'"

Judi counts herself as one of the billions Reverend Graham left a mark on, still hanging mesmerized by the man who gave her that message as a child.

"Been with me every day of my life since then," she said. "I can't tell anybody what an impact that was on me."

After Graham's passing, those powerful words have a life of their own.

"God will never let go of you," she repeated.

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