Interview: What It Was Like to Be Billy Graham’s Pastor

Don Wilton, Graham’s spiritual confidant and preacher at his burial, said the evangelist never stopped striving for God.
Billy Graham has prayed for millions. Far fewer can say the famed preacher asked them to pray for him.
Don Wilton had the privilege of being the one Graham turned to for spiritual guidance, fellowship, and prayer in the final years and days of his life.
“He would ask me to pray that God the Spirit would fill him to the extent that he would be totally hidden behind the cross and people would only see Jesus,” said Wilton, who served as Graham’s personal pastor and met with him weekly for the past 15-plus years.
“His entire life was in pursuit that he would decrease so that Christ would increase.”
During his crusades, Graham often ended his messages by urging the audience to get connected with a local church. Once his days of touring the globe came to an end and he lived out the final decades of his life in his home near Asheville, North Carolina, the aging evangelist took his own advice. He tuned into sermon recordings and eventually became a member of Wilton’s congregation, First Baptist Church of Spartanburg, in 2008.
A South Africa-born preacher leading a major Southern Baptist congregation in South Carolina, 64-year-old Wilton is a fitting reflection of the global scope and Southern heritage of Graham’s own ministry.
Wilton joined the Graham family for a week of memorials to the late evangelist and will offer the message at his burial on Friday, March 2, preaching from Galatians 6:14—a passage Graham handpicked several weeks before.
“This is the verse he said he would have liked to use if he preached one more crusade,” he said. It reads (in the NIV): “May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, …Continue reading…