Acclaimed Chinese Artist Joins Franklin Graham in Charlotte to Unveil Two Billy Graham Sculptures
China's 'Portrait Diplomat'—Who Sketched Nelson Mandela, Sculpted Abraham Lincoln—Honors Graham as 'Sower,' 'Messenger of Hope'
Respected Chinese artist Yuan Xikun, whose 48-inch bronze statue of Abraham Lincoln was gifted to former President Barack Obama by the leader of China, unveiled two sculptures (descriptions) of the late Billy Graham in a ceremony today alongside Graham's son Franklin.
A statue, "Billy Graham as Sower," and a bust, "Billy Graham as Messenger of Hope," were crafted as the final two sculptures Yuan plans to produce in his career. The donated statues are presented to Billy Graham Evangelistic Association as a gesture to honor Graham's life, global influence and special connection to China, which was the birthplace of his late wife, Ruth, and the location for six of Graham's crusades in the late 1980s and early '90s.
"Billy Graham stands among the great cultural and spiritual leaders of our time, not just for who he was, but for the unique message he conveyed to the world," Yuan said. "My sculptures are meant not only to honor his influence as a preacher—they are a testament to the enduring legacy of his ministries that continue to transform lives on every continent."
- Downloadable, high-resolution photos of the two art pieces and today's ceremony
- Downloadable, broadcast quality b-roll of today's ceremony
- Video: Billy Graham's Legacy in China
Though the two never met, Yuan's renowned Jintai Art Museum in Beijing was built in 1994 approximately 8 miles from Chongwenmen Church, where Graham preached a sermon in 1988. During the sermon, Graham encouraged his Chinese audience to include a moral and spiritual renewal in China's ambitious modernization program.
"One of the greatest things I learned was how much I did not know about China," Graham said in his autobiography, Just As I Am (Harper Collins, 1997). "God is still at work in the ancient land of China, and for that we rejoice."
Franklin Graham continues his father's work in the country, including preaching in 2008 to 12,000 people in the 6,000-seat Hangzhou Chong-Yi Christian Church, the largest in the country. According to the senior pastor at the time, the event was the largest Christian church gathering in China's history. The younger Graham also traveled to China as recently as 2010, where he visited the site of the hospital where his mother was born. Franklin's son Will has also preached in the country multiple times, as recently as 2017.
In addition, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association has partnered with international relief organization Samaritan's Purse (both headed by Franklin) in relief and ministry efforts in China, including after the devastating 2008 earthquake in Sichuan Province.
About Yuan Xikun
Yuan Xikun has long served as a "Portrait Diplomat." While living in Japan in the 1980s, Yuan gained a reputation for his skillful portrait sketches of the Japanese royal family. Since then, he has been invited to draw ink-and-wash portraits for 152 foreign dignitaries, which were acknowledged and signed by those dignitaries. Yuan's sculptures of international celebrities have been collected and unveiled by governments, museums and international organizations in the United States, Japan, Greece, Russia and many others. His sculptures can also be seen in the United States, including an Abraham Lincoln sculpture at the Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial and the National Archive, and "Pioneer of Railroad" at the Amtrak Lounge of Los Angeles Union Station.
About Billy Graham Evangelistic Association
The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association is a nonprofit organization that directs a range of domestic and international ministries. From its headquarters in Charlotte, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association directs a wide range of domestic and international ministries, including: large-scale festivals led by evangelists Franklin Graham and Will Graham; The Billy Graham Library; The Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove, located outside of Asheville, North Carolina; SearchforJesus.net, an internet evangelism project reaching thousands of people for Christ online; and many others through print, television, telephone, radio and the internet. For more information, please visit billygraham.org. Get news updates on Twitter at Twitter.com/BGEAnews.