WASHINGTON — Former President George W. Bush says his faith walk and decision to quit drinking started with the Rev. Billy Graham.
“God’s work within me began in earnest with Billy’s outreach,” Bush wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed published Friday. “His care and his teachings were the real beginning of my faith walk — and the start of the end of my drinking. I couldn’t have given up alcohol on my own. But in 1986, at 40, I finally found the strength to quit. That strength came from love I had felt from my earliest days and from faith I didn’t fully discover until my later years.”
Graham, an evangelical minister who served as a religious guide to several presidents, died on Wednesday at the age of 99. He passed away at his home in Montreat, North Carolina, spokesman Jeremy Blume said.
Bush detailed witnessing Graham’s “remarkable capacity to minister to everyone he met,” and remembered the service Graham delivered at Washington National Cathedral after the September 11 terrorist attacks.
“In a difficult moment, Billy reminded me — and us all — where we can find strength,” Bush wrote. “And he helped us start to heal by offering three lessons: the mystery and reality of evil, our need for each other, and hope for the present and future. ‘As a Christian,” Graham said at the 9/11 service, ‘I have hope, not just for this life, but for heaven and the life to come.'”
Graham will lie in honor at the US Capitol rotunda beginning next week, House Speaker Paul Ryan announced in a statement Thursday.
Members of the public can pay their respects to Graham as he lies in honor from Wednesday, February 28, through Thursday, March 1.