Bono: ‘I Give Thanks Just for the Sanity of Billy Graham’

By Michael W. Chapman | September 16, 2014 | 11:26am EDT

U2 frontman, investor, and philanthropist Bono, who isn’t shy about discussing his Christian faith, wrote a poem in honor of evangelist preacher Billy Graham that describes Bono’s relationship with Jesus as a  “journey from Father to friend,” and how he learned of this through “the voice of a preacher,” Graham, “that gave my life a Rhyme.”

Bono and Rev. Billy Graham in Montreat, N.C. (Photo: Billy Graham Evangelistic Association)

Also, in a separate tribute to Billy Graham, Bono said,  “At a time when religion seems so often to get in the way of God’s work, I give thanks just for the sanity of Billy Graham, for the clear and empathetic voice.”

As reported at the website for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association on Sept. 1, and picked up by the Huffington Post, Bono has been a long-time fan of Rev. Billy Graham, and went to visit him and his family at their home in Montreat, North Carolina in 2002.

Ruth Bell Graham and Bono in 2002, Montreat, N.C. (Photo: Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.)

While there, Bono gave the Grahams a book of poetry by Irish poet Seamus Heaney, and Bono wrote a tribute to Rev. Graham in the inside page.  The poem reads:

“The journey from Father to friend
is all paternal loves end
It was sung in my teenage ears
In the voice of a preacher
loudly soft on my tears
I would never forget this
Melody line
Or its lyric voice that gave my life
A Rhyme
a meaning that wasn’t there before
a child born in dung and straw
wish the Father’s love and desire to explain
how we might get on with each other again…

To the Rev Billy Graham (that preacher)
Ruth and all the Graham family
From Bono (March 11 2002)
With much love and respect”

Ruth Bell Graham died in 2007 and Rev. Billy Graham, 95, reportedly is ailing and not expected to live much longer. One of his sons, Rev. Franklin Graham, was there in 2002 and took the celebrated rock musician and humanitarian to meet with his father.

The poem, along with a photo of Bono and Ruth Bell Graham, is on display at the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, N.C.

Rev. Franklin Graham, left, Bono, and Rev. Billy Graham in 2002 in Montreat, N.C. (Photo: Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.)

In explaining to Sojourners in 2005 about that visit with the Grahams, Bono said he had been on tour and got a phone call that Rev. Graham wanted to give his band, U2, a blessing.

As Bono recounted: “I told [my band], I said, ‘This is a big deal. This is Billy Graham!’ And they all said, ‘That’s great. But we’re in the middle of a tour.’ So I rented a plane and flew there right away in case he might forget. I was picked up by his son, Franklin, and driven a couple of hours up to their house. I met briefly with himself and his wife, Ruth. I think I’ve mentioned to you before that the blessings of an older man mean a great deal to me. Particularly this man. I gave him a book of Seamus Heaney poetry, and I wrote a poem for him in it."

Bono, whose real name is Paul David Hewson, gave an interview in 2013 in which he explained his faith in Jesus Christ, that he and his family pray together, and that he firmly believes that Jesus is “the Son of God,” that He rose from the dead, and that He made promises to the world that will come true.

Over the years, Rev. Billy Graham preached to more than 215 million people in 185 different countries, and he wrote 31 books. For more than 50 years he has regularly been ranked among one of the most admired people in the world.

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