'Daddy’s message is God’s message': Rev. Graham's children speak after his death

Billy Graham on his 90th birthday,pictured with his children (Anne Graham Lotz, far left; Franklin Graham, second from left) (Photo credit: BGEA)

Family members of Rev. Billy Graham are reflecting on his life after he passed away at his Montreat home on Wednesday morning. He was 99 years old.

Graham's oldest son Franklin took to Twitter to talk about this father's death, saying in part, "This morning, he departed this world into eternal life in Heaven, prepared by the Lord Jesus Christ -- the Savior of the world -- whom he proclaimed for 80 years."

Franklin Graham took over as CEO of Billy Graham Evangelistic Association in 2000 and became president of the organization in 2001.

Anne Graham Lotz, Graham's second daughter, released a statement on her website titled "Daddy is Home." In it, she said when she thinks of her father, she doesn't think of Billy Graham, the public figure. Instead, she said she remembers him as her daddy.

"The one who was always a farmer at heart. Who loved his dogs and his cat. Who followed the weather patterns almost as closely as he did world events," Lotz recalled of Graham.

Graham and his missionary work were internationally known and took him all over the world. Lotz described how she felt she was raised by a single parent because her father's ministry often took him away from the family for weeks and months at a time.

"Daddy estimated that he was gone from home approximately 60 percent of his children’s growing-up years," Lotz wrote. "Now, he has left again. This time, he will not be coming back. At least, not until Jesus does, too."

Lots said even after his death, she believes Billy Graham's message will continue for generations to come and inspires other evangelists to take his place.

"Because Daddy’s message is God’s message. And it’s a message of genuine hope for the future, of love for the present, of forgiveness for the past," she said.

Billy Graham and his wife Ruth Bell had three daughters and two sons. Ruth passed away in June 2007.

Graham will be buried by his wife at the Billy Graham Museum and Library.

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