Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee said that when he first heard the Rev. Billy Graham had died Wednesday, he said his first thought was that it was "fake news."
"Billy Graham is not dead," Huckabee told Fox News' "America's Newsroom." "He is more alive right now than he has ever been."
Graham, dubbed "America's pastor" following his crusades and his ministry to millions, including decades of U.S. presidents and other world leaders, died at his home in North Carolina. He was 99.
"The fact is that's what he preached, that there is life beyond this one because of Jesus Christ," Huckabee said Wednesday. "His message never wavered from that. If somehow Billy Graham did not inherit eternal life and if he is not alive right now in a life that will never end, everything he stood for, everything he said is null and void. I don't believe that is so."
Further, Huckabee said he believes that most people can not only offer "profound condolences" to Graham's family, but "profound gratitude to God that this man showed up on planet Earth to point the way to millions of people to the knowledge of Christ."
Huckabee said he is close friends with Graham's oldest son, the Rev. Franklin Graham, and has met several of his other family members.
"Franklin and I are close friends and, you know, when I hear Franklin, it is almost like I'm in a daze because I think that's Billy Graham," said Huckabee. "He is so like his father in so many ways. And like his father, he stays true to the simple and single message of Christ. No matter what conversation you have with him, he is going to get it right back to the cross. And that's what made Billy Graham effective."
Graham "didn't waver, he didn't go off on tangents or get off on issues," Huckabee said. "He stuck to what he was on Earth for. That's what made him so effective ... this was a man who lived an exemplary life as well as one who preached the exemplary life of Jesus Christ."
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