TODAY   |  November 13, 2013

Kathie Lee: Billy Graham helped me find my faith

In TODAY’s #InspiredBy series, Kathie Lee Gifford talks about 95-year old Billy Graham, and how his evangelical TV broadcasts changed her life.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> now to our special series "inspired by," sharing our personal stories. on tuesday i shared the story of two people who inspired me. today is your turn.

>> yes, it is, hoda woman. i've been inspired by this person for nearly 50 years. to me, he's much more than an inspiration. he is my dear friend. and last week i had the privilege of celebrating his 95th birthday with him. here is a look at how billy graham inspired me.

>> if you were not saved.

>> nothing is to be compared to the love of god .

>> god is to be trusted even when life seems at its darkest. what is needed is a moral and spiritual renewal.

>> i've never met, in my life, a more powerful man who is as humble as billy is.

>> jesus said, i am the truth.

>> i was 12 years old, almost 13. and i walked in the door while my mother and sister were on their knees sobbing and i thought maybe the president had been killed or something. and they said, no, they had just watched billy graham and both of them had been saved through watching the power of his message through a television screen. a few weeks later "the restless ones" were playing through this theater. it's about a young girl on the cusp of when you start to make big decisions in your life, the kind that your parents don't make for you. am i going to go toward that way of faith and trust god to make something beautiful out of my life or am i going to go the world's way?

>> the moment you receive him, he gives you a new nature and the power to live the kind of life that you should live.

>> i felt that i heard god say to me, and not audibly -- it wasn't a weird thing. it was a magnificently sweet and simple thing. i love you, kathie. and if you'll trust me with your life, i will make something beautiful of it.

>> get out of your seat, come up out of your seat.

>> gave us an alter call like in a movie theater and said whoever would like to come forward and make this leap of faith and i could not get out of my seat fast enough. i have never stopped believing it. i'm 12 then, i'm 60 now. greatest decision i ever made in my life. my entire family came to faith through billy .

>> this fine gentleman here has been so special in my life.

>> i was doing a christmas special here at my house. first people said, you know, he never does anything, ever. i said okay, i understand. next thing you know, they called me and said billy would be delighted to be a part of your special. so, i was so touched. i was so grateful. he shows up at my house! and i said, billy , i just want you to know, if there's anything we can get you, anything you would like. he has a little twinkle and he goes, anything? and i went, yeah. he goes, could i have a big mac ? and i thought, billy graham likes big macs . you've got to love it. he's just human. when i went through very, very tough times, when i was accused of awful things, the first phone call i got was from billy graham . when my husband was unfaithful to me and it was a terrible time, you know who billy called first? frank. he called frank first. and he wanted to talk to both of us. he knew that healing had to be for both of us. the day that the lord finally called billy home, i will be overwhelmed with sadness that my friend is physically gone and i will be overjoyed with love for him and gratitude that he is in heaven and his struggle will be over and the lord will say to him, well done, my good and faithful servant. i hope i can wrap my arms around his dear neck as i have so many times through these years and say, for the last time, thank you, billy . i love you.

>> and i did get that opportunity just last thursday night, hoda. frank and i flew down to asheville, tennessee. and there were so many people around him. but at the very end, i was able to just walk over . like the sea parted. there he was. i got up real close to him and i said, billy , it's kathie lee . and he goes, oh, kathie lee , i love you.

>> oh, my.

>> i said, billy , how can i thank you what you've done for me and my family? i love you so much. and the second time, he said, and i love you, kathie lee . and i haven't stopped crying, thinking about it, since. i send my love to him.

>> that was beautiful. that was really beautiful.

>> thank you, allie berger, who did a beautiful, beautiful job on that.

>> yes.

>>> tomorrow, matt is going to tell us his most inspiring.

>> and carson will christmas shopping