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Franklin Graham: Cash was ‘friend of the Gospel’

HENDERSONVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Family and friends of music legend Johnny Cash gathered for a private funeral at First Baptist Church in Hendersonville, Tenn., Sept. 15.

“Johnny was a friend of the Gospel,” Franklin Graham, who delivered the funeral sermon, told Baptist Press outside the church. “During the last years he grew closer to the Lord, and it was evident in his walk. Even his music reflected a genuine close walk with Jesus, and Johnny was not ashamed to tell the world about his faith.

“Our family loved Johnny and June and our prayers are with the Cash family during this time,” Graham continued. “Dad and Mom loved Johnny and June and were pleased at how God had worked through their lives during the last two decades.”

Inside, Graham praised Cash’s determination to battle demons throughout his life. Billy Graham’s health kept him from attending the service, so his son read some messages from him, The Tennessean newspaper in Nashville reported. Franklin Graham said his father initiated a relationship with Cash because he thought that if he became friends with Johnny Cash, the then-rebellious Franklin Graham would think of his father as “an important and relevant man.”

Ruth Bell Graham said Cash was the kindest man she ever knew, the newspaper reported.

Others who gathered to celebrate Cash’s life included former Vice President Al Gore, country icon George Jones, rock-rapper Kid Rock, singers Vince Gill, Amy Grant, Ricky Skaggs, Emmylou Harris, Sheryl Crowe and John Mellencamp and many more.

“[Cash] was not caught up with the trappings of his star power,” Skaggs told Baptist Press. “He worked hard at treating people with respect. Above all else he loved the Lord, and he wanted to honor God in what he did. Finally he is home with his heavenly Father and his beloved wife June.”

With a steady flow of tribute songs and testimonies of his character from loved ones, the funeral lasted two and a half hours. As was fitting for the Man in Black, Cash was buried in a simple black casket next to his wife June Carter Cash, who died just four months ago.

Cash, known for hits such as “Ring of Fire,” “I Walk the Line” and “A Boy Named Sue,” died of complications from diabetes resulting in respiratory failure Sept. 12.
With reporting by Morris Abernathy. (BP) photos posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo titles: TRIBUTE TO THE MAN IN BLACK, ‘FRIEND OF THE GOSPEL,’ A DAUGHTER MOURNS, REMEMBERING JOHNNY, STAR-STUDDED FUNERAL and HOME AT LAST.

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