By Dan Wooding
Founder of ASSIST Ministries

BELLFLOWER, Calif. (ANS)Evangelist Will Graham, the grandson of Billy Graham, has said that at the age of 95, Mr. Graham is close towill-franklin-billy-graham going home to be with the Lord.

In an exclusive interview at Hosanna Christian Fellowship, Bellflower, Calif., before he was to preach Dec. 11 at a special Christian event, he spoke movingly about Billy Graham’s frail condition.

“I saw my grandfather last week and he is not doing well,” said Will, the son of Franklin Graham. “He’s not suffering or anything. It’s just that old age has caught up to him and is sucking the life out of him.

“On Nov. 7 [with his My Hope America with Billy Graham* outreach], he finished his race and up until that time, God had protected his health and gave him supernatural strength and now, the only thing left is for him to come home. God has removed his hand of protection and old age has set in.

“He has been in a wheelchair for a long time. He can walk, but he is in the wheelchair because it is easier for us to move him and it safer for him.”

When I asked him what happened during his last meeting with his much-loved grandfather at his Montreat, N.C., home, he revealed that they didn’t talk very much.

“That’s the best thing of being a grandson,” said Will. “We don’t have to say much. We just sit there, look at each other and hold hands. His neck was sore as he had been in bed a whole bunch, so I rubbed his neck.”

He said they say a few words to each other, adding, “It was sort or grandfather-grandson, talk, more than anything.”

What would he like people to know about Billy Graham, the world’s most well-known evangelist, with whom I have had the privilege of working with on several occasions in Russia, Germany and Puerto Rico?

He replied, “My grandfather is the most humble man I have met. Some people often say, ‘How come Billy Graham never got caught up in money or with woman, like so many others?’ That was because God was protecting him from all that stuff because of his humility. The Bible says that ‘God gives grace to the humble,’ so because my grandfather was humble, God protected supernaturally from all that stuff and gave him grace. It was not because of anything that Billy Graham had done, but because of his humility before the Lord.

“To me he is one of the most humble men I have met. I just wish I had his humility all the time.”

I concluded the interview by asking Will Graham how people could pray for his grandfather, and he replied, “I don’t know how to answer that anymore. I wish He would give him strength, but I don’t think he needs strength anymore. It’s time to go home.”

Will Graham, the third generation of evangelists in the Graham family, later spoke at this special Christmas event at Hosanna Christian Fellowship ( and was joined by his old friend, Dennis Agajanian. Will had stepped in for Pastor Chuck Smith, who had been invited to speak by senior pastor, Garry Ansdell, but when “Pastor Chuck” passed away on October 3, 2013, Will agreed to take his place.

*My Hope America with Billy Graham was a nationwide effort to reach people across the United States with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Following a simple biblical model, it combined the impact of video programs ( with the power of personal relationships. It was possibly the largest media event Billy Graham has ever been involved in.

By Dan Wooding
Founder of ASSIST Ministries

LOS ANGELES (ANS) The Katinas have come a long way from playing in their father’s church in American Samoa, a beautiful unincorporated territory of the United States located in the South Pacific Ocean, to performing before 30,000 people at Dodger Stadium on Sept. 8, on the first night of Greg Laurie’s Harvest LA outreach.

And what makes this Dove Award-winning Christian group so unique is that in today’s ever-changing music industry where bands arrive and then disappear into obscurity at a veritable breakneck pace, The Katinas have not only managed to roll with the changes, but they’ve done so with their original lineup intact for 21 years now.

Undaunted by trends and the changing tides of the online music revolution, The Katinas, who recently released their 10th English language studio album, Collage, is composed of brothers John (vocals), Jesse (vocals), Sam (keyboards), James (bass) and Joe (drums) have continued to write and perform on their own terms-and love every minute of it.

I caught up with some of The Katinas, who have 17 children between them, at the iconic Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, just minutes before they went on stage to share the Gospel message through their diverse catalog of songs, and was able to glean a little of their story

Their drummer Joe Katina told me that they have played at many of Greg Laurie’s Harvest Crusades, and the first one was at The Spectrum, an indoor stadium in Philadelphia way back in 1996.

On recalling that night, he said, “I just remember a massive amount of people there and being nervous as we played in front of that large crowd and then I also remember Pastor Greg getting up there and sharing the Word of God and so many people responding to receive Jesus that night.”

Was it the largest crowd you had played before at that time?

“I’m not sure if it was because we also had the opportunity to play at a few Billy Graham crusades so but it was definitely one of the bigger ones,” said Joe.

I then spoke with Sam, the keyboard player, and asked him to share about how the band got started.

“We’re all brothers and we started the band in our home in Oceanside, California, where we were then living, but then in 1978, mom and dad went back and planted a church in American Samoa and we became our dad’s praise and worship band.

“And here we are some 21 years later, still loving every opportunity that God opens up for us.

John Katina, one of the band’s vocalists, then joined in the conversation and so I asked him what it was like to sing before such huge crowds.

“Man it’s always a humbling experience,” he began, “but also we just we take it as an honor because I remember being in the small island of American Samoa and we would have these dreams as little boys that someday we would sing for people of all nationalities, and different age groups, and here we get to do that in a venue like Dodger Stadium.

“So it never gets old for us and we’re just grateful for every opportunity.”

I then asked John what it was like for him when he saw so many people responding to invitation at the end of a crusade meeting to give their lives to Christ.

“We rejoice with the angels and we know that not only is there a party going on in heaven, but we often think back to the story of our dad when he came back from the Vietnam war,” he said. “He was an alcoholic and miraculously God transformed him from alcoholism and a lifestyle of abuse.

“So when we see the masses of people, like we anticipate tonight coming forward tonight, we think about our dad’s conversion and again it’s just another opportunity to rejoice.”

What happened to him and is he still alive?

“Oh yes,” said John. “After he got saved, we moved to American Samoa and he planted a church there and he’s still pastoring that church called Miracle Assembly of God, after almost thirty-five years and it is still going strong.”

I then asked Joe Katina how he would describe their music style, and he replied, “Our music is really a collage of different styles. We like to say we sing Rock and Soul as we grew up on R&B. We love harmonies and we love the old school music. So you know we try our best to reach people from all age groups and from all demographics of life. So it’s an eclectic style of music.”

I then asked Sam Katina if the band writes all their own music and he said, “Yes, we write a lot of our own songs, but we also collaborate with other writers outside of the group and then love doing praise and worship and we sing a lot of other people’s songs as well.”

I concluded the interview by asking John Katina how people can pray for the band and he replied, “We ask that people pray that we would stay faithful husbands and great dads to our children — you know that’s our first calling. But also pray that we would be sensitive to what God wants to say through us through our music and as we speak and just pray for our families. Pray for our kids there are seventeen kids between the five of us. So just pray for our families we know that balance of ministry but also our first calling to our families as well.”

With that the three members of the band were off to opening up the proceedings for Greg Laurie and also play as thousands streamed forward onto the turf at Dodger Stadium on that first night.

So for The Katinas, they were able to be a part in another great harvest of souls for God’s Kingdom, and they plan to continue to do this as they serve the Lord thousands of miles away from their homes in American Samoa.

To find out more about the band, please go to:

Editor’s note: The views in this column are of the author.

By Bill Ellis
Special to Inside The Pew

SCOTT DEPOT, W.V. – The biggest surprise of my life is that all of it is so very brief. The Rev. Billy Graham, speaking of

Bill Ellis

his latest book, “Nearing Home: Life, Faith, and Finishing Well,” is quoted as saying, “All my life I was taught how to die as a Christian, but no one ever taught me how I ought to live in the years before I die.”

We all have an appointment with death. There is an uncertainty about life, but none about death. I regularly read the obituary columns.

Some obituaries speak of hope and eternal life. Others seem to offer no hope. Abner was King Saul’s cousin and a commander in his army. At the death of Abner, King David, sang a lament in which he asked, “Should Abner die as a fool dies?” (2 Samuel 3:33).

Brief sadness comes when I read of all the things a person has done, but not one mention of that person’s relationship to God. Most discouraging are the words that come from a writer who has taken poetic license to an extreme and has a person walking heaven’s streets who left no testimony of ever having a desire to walk with God.

Many years ago, I heard a discussion among mountain men about death. One of them concluded, “As a tree falls, so shall it lie.” A person’s testimony cannot accurately be changed after death.

In the midst of the bereavement at death, there is also bright and abundant hope when a Christian dies. The Christian has hope beyond the grave. Jesus said to Martha, whose brother Lazarus had died four days earlier, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die.” Do you believe this? (John 11:25-26).

A short time later there was rejoicing. Death had been conquered. Read to the end of that 11th chapter and note these events. Jesus went to the grave of Lazarus and said, “Take away the stone.” Then He cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth!” and then Jesus said, “Loose him, and let him go.”

On March 2, Kitty and I were in Sullivan, Ill., to celebrate the life and death of Don F. Pedigo. Celebrate death? Of course, for “to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord” and that is the hope of every believer in Jesus Christ.

Lloyd Larson, Frank Mathis, and Mark Ellis recalled fond memories of their association with Don at Peoples Church of God in Decatur, Ill., and remembered him as I do, “a man’s man who dressed well and always wore a smile.”

As a churchman, he was involved with the music and missions of the church as was his family and as a church leader he often served as Chairman of the Board of Trustees and was able to get more done than any board chairman I have ever known. His work and service for the church was highlighted by always taking on any task as a committed, knowledgeable, concerned, and determined leader who stayed with every assignment until it was successfully completed.

Our churches and country need more men like Don Pedigo. I will always be grateful for what this good, gracious and godly man meant to me and my family and thousands of others in our nation and abroad.

Bill Ellis is a syndicated columnist, and convention and conference speaker on every continent. He is the writer of more than 2,000 newspaper and magazine columns, articles and contributions to books.