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'Ambassador for Christ': America's Leaders Pay Historic Honor to Billy Graham


WASHINGTON - The Rev. Billy Graham's casket departed the US Capitol Rotunda Thursday after lying in honor for a day. His body is now heading for North Carolina where his funeral service will be held on Friday.

As he did in life, Graham drew America's most powerful leaders who came together Wednesday to honor his life and legacy.

President Donald Trump recalled attending a Billy Graham Crusade at Yankee Stadium as a young boy with his parents.

"Fred Trump was a big fan of Billy Graham," Trump said of his late father.

MORE FROM TRUMP: 'God Loves You': President Trump Reflects on Billy Graham's Impact on His Life

It was a solemn, but joyful ceremony in the beautiful Capitol Rotunda. In attendance were Graham's family, President Trump and first lady Melania Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and Karen Pence, along with leaders and members of the House and Senate.

BELOW: Watch our CBN News FAITH NATION coverage of the service in the Capitol.

"Here in this room we are reminded that America is a land sustained by prayer," the president said, referring to the works of art that line the dome and tell the story of America.

"Along these walls we see the faces of Americans who prayed" as they carved out the nation's history, he said.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says at first blush, the story of Rev. Billy Graham sounds like one of personal success: the son of a farmer who would travel the world changing lives and counseling the nation's most powerful people.

However, the most remarkable thing, McConnell noted, is that isn't Graham's story.

"He knew better than anyone that fame and an impressive rolodex wasn't the sign of success," he continued. "It was not his great talents, but rather his great humility that made Graham such a remarkable man."

"Matthew 22:37 says, 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' Billy Graham woke up every day and did just that," said House Speaker Paul Ryan with a smile.

"He challenged us to look up and within – to reflect and repent," the speaker continued.

"We give thanks to God for the life and the works of this humble servant – now and forever," he said.

Senate Chaplain Barry Black closed the service with a prayer in his rich booming voice.

He thanked God for Graham's "scandal-free life" and asked Him to "challenge us all to become salt and light to our generation."

The chaplain then closed his prayer with words no one can protest: "I pray in the name of Billy Graham's Savior and closest friend, Jesus Christ, Amen."

As President Trump left the Rotunda he took a moment to touch Graham's casket.

He later tweeted, "Today in the center of this great chamber lies Billy Graham, an ambassador for Christ who reminded the world of the power of prayer and the gift of God's grace."

Graham will be laid to rest Friday near his home in Charlotte, North Carolina.
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