How Houstonians and Texans reacted to Billy Graham's death

By Aaron Barker - Senior Digital Editor

HOUSTON - The death of the Rev. Billy Graham on Wednesday sent ripples through the religious community of Houston and Texas.

Here is how some prominent Houstonians and Texans reacted to Graham's death.

Former President George H.W. Bush

In a statement, Bush called Graham “America’s pastor,” describing him as a good and honest man.

“I think Billy touched the hearts of not only Christians, but people of all faiths because he was such a good man,” the 41st president said.

Bush’s full statement follows:

“Billy Graham was America's pastor. His faith in Christ and his totally honest evangelical spirit inspired people across the country and around the world. I think Billy touched the hearts of not only Christians, but people of all faiths, because he was such a good man. I was privileged to have him as a personal friend. He would come to Maine to visit with Barbara and me, and he was a great sport. He loved going really fast in my boat. I guess you could say we had that in common. Then we would come home and talk about life. He was a mentor to several of my children, including the former president of the United States. We will miss our good friend forever.”

VIDEO: President George H.W. Bush speaks on Billy Graham in 2007

Joel Osteen

In a phone interview with CNN, Osteen called Graham’s loss personal and said he grew up watching Graham on television.

“I grew up as a preacher’s kid, in a preacher’s home, and Billy Graham was always our hero -- his life of integrity and honesty, and his passion for people,” Osteen said.

Osteen went on to say that although it was known that the time of Graham’s passing was nearing, it is sad to think that America’s most well-known evangelist is no longer here.

“To me, it’s a loss of a hero,” Osteen said.

Osteen also tweeted a statement about Graham’s passing, calling him humble and gracious.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott

The Republican governor released a statement, saying Graham left behind a legacy of compassion.

Abbott's full statement follows:

"The Rev. Billy Graham left an indelible mark on America and the world. His passion to serve God and share His love touched countless Texans over the years. From his first major event in Fort Worth in 1951 to his final event in Dallas in 2002, Billy Graham brought the message of God’s love to stadiums and arenas across Texas. A counselor to many U.S. presidents – including those from Texas – he forever impacted the lives of everyday people around the world. The Rev. Graham’s legacy of compassion lives on through those he touched -- including his son, Franklin, whose Samaritan’s Purse ministry has been instrumental in helping Texans recover from Hurricane Harvey. Cecilia and I extend our heartfelt condolences to the entire Graham family, and we celebrate the life of this humble servant of God."

Abbott also ordered flags in Texas to be flown at half-staff on the day of Graham's interment.

Ed Young

Ed Young, senior pastor at Second Baptist Church in Houston, released a statement, recalling Graham's impact on communities and nations.

Young's full statement follows:

"Billy Graham was unparalleled as the single greatest voice for Jesus Christ of the past seventy-five years. He inspired men and women around the world, and was especially impactful with young people. His clear presentation of what God has done for man through Jesus Christ was used by the Almighty to radically change the lives of millions. The impact of his crusades changed communities, even nations as he stressed the importance of the local church and new believers becoming connected in the Body of Christ.

"Bill was a friend, confidant and someone I looked up to from the very earliest years of my ministry. He modeled what it means to be a man of God even as he lived out his calling on the world stage. Pastor to many presidents, this great man retained the humility and character that marked his life. He was a strong leader yet an unbelievable servant. He never deviated from what his purpose in life was. He once was asked by a president to consider running for vice-president of the United States. I will never forget his answer; I can’t step down.

"He was America’s pastor for many, many generations. Countless stories. The Bible says he that he who would be great among you, let him become a servant of all. Billy Graham was indeed a servant of all. He never forgot his moorings, the son of a dairy farmer in Charlotte, North Carolina.

"Years ago, I had the privilege of introducing him at the Superdome. No small task. I introduced him simply as an evangelist from North Carolina, Billy Graham. His name said it all. I thank God for his influence in so many lives. There is no way to calculate the depths to which he will be missed. Yet there is no way to calculate what a celebration is taking place in Heaven – the very real home in which Billy Graham now resides. He famously said that his real home was heaven, and on earth he was just traveling through. From a very personal and also professional standpoint, I can truly say Bill’s travels bettered this world, because he reflected his Savior to this lonely planet."

Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo

Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, the Archbishop of Galveston-Houston and President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, issued the following statement on Graham;s passing:

“Today, we pray for the soul of the Rev. Billy Graham to the Lord he so dearly loved and offer our condolences to his family. Billy Graham was a preacher of God’s Word not only in his sermons, but also in the very life he lived. His faith and integrity invited countless thousands around the world into a closer relationship with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Thanks be to God for the ministry of Billy Graham.”

Rev. Bill Lawson

Lawson issued the following statement on Graham's death:

"Graham in the first place preached to more people almost to more human beings than I knew anything about,” said legendary civil rights leader, Rev. Bill Lawson of Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church.  He said Graham preached to the world and everyone came to his crusades.  Rev. Lawson said, “While much of the South was still segregated, Graham's crusades were not.  And so he became known in nations all over the world.  He was as popular in Africa as he was in the U.S."

Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee

Jackson Lee released the following message on Graham's death:

“The Rev. Billy Graham was an apostle of hope and healing who shared the good news of God’s amazing grace to the multitudes, in America and around the world. With his passing the world has lost a man of wisdom and moral courage who spoke God’s truth in every corner of the earth. We will greatly miss but always remember this gentle man’s amazing ability to bring people of goodwill together to find common ground and rebuild communities, starting with the moral character and integrity of the individual.

“I hope it is a comfort to the family, friends, and loves ones of the Rev. Billy Graham that so many people the world over are mourning the passing of this remarkable human being and giving thanks for all the good he did in his remarkable 99 year sojourn on earth.”

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