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Billy Graham's 'last crusade' has thousands of mourners

Billy Graham's 'last crusade' has thousands of mourners

The late Reverend Billy Graham, spearhead of an evangelical Christian movement that touched millions worldwide and who provided spiritual counsel to several United States presidents, returned for good to his North Carolina home.

Ahead of the ceremony, a steady stream of mourners braved brisk winds, some of them sharing how Graham's preaching enriched their lives.

The preacher, meanwhile, counseled a dozen presidents and grew especially close to Richard Nixon - until the backstory of Watergate made Graham feel used by the disgraced president.

Also, Mr. Trump emphasizes power and strength over helping the poor and the powerless, a priority for evangelical Christians and especially Graham's charity, Samaritan's Purse.

He said that, "the Billy Graham that the world saw on television, the Billy Graham that the world saw in the big stadium was the same Billy Graham that we saw at home".

Like a modern-day Moses, Lotz said her father brought liberation to people through the Gospel and she sincerely believes her father's death on February 21 at the age of 99 "is a shot across the bow from Heaven".

Exit polls showed that about 80 per cent of white evangelical voters voted for the Trump-Pence ticket - the largest vote for a Republican presidential candidate since 2004, when such voters overwhelmingly chose President George W Bush by a margin of 78 per cent to 21 per cent.

After going through a messy divorce, Ruth Graham said she made a decision to move away for a fresh start somewhere else.

During the funeral at his library in Charlotte, Graham's youngest daughter told a deeply personal story about facing her father after a failed marriage.

A private funeral service will be held at the Billy Graham Library where about 2,300 invited guests are expected to attend.

Graham was bestowed the rare tribute of laying in honor for two days this week in the US Capitol's Rotunda, where Trump praised him as "an ambassador for Christ who reminded the world of the power of prayer and the gift of God's grace". "Just unconditional love", she said.

The couple married in 1943 and later moved to Montreat, North Carolina.

Other notable guests included television host Kathie Lee Gifford, musician Ricky Skaggs, evangelist Rick Warren and politician Rudy Giuliani.

"He was faithful. He was available and he was teachable", son Nelson "Ned" Graham told the service.

Still, loved ones said Graham saw himself as a humble preacher who would have been embarrassed by such fanfare. While the funeral is private, WMAZ will be streaming the events beginning around 10:45 a.m. along with the service that will begin at noon.

"My father was standing there waiting for me". Some 2,000 people are expected to attend, including President Donald Trump. Winds were expected to be gusty throughout the morning.

The service began with a moving rendition of one of the late pastor's most cherished songs, "Until Then" performed by Linda McCrary-Fisher. Franklin Graham said there was "no better place" than at his father's funeral for viewers to convert to Christianity.

Trump said Wednesday that as a boy he saw Graham preach one of a series of sermons at Yankee Stadium in 1957, the closing rally of the New York Crusade.

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