BOSTWICK, Fla. -- Reverend Billy Graham's journey began at Bostwick Baptist Church, a small country church in Putnam County.
It was Easter Sunday 1937 when he was asked to preach. His sermon would last eight minutes. But it would be the first step in a lifetime of spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ to millions around the world.
Dr. Bob Barton remembers the Billy Graham Crusades and how they would be heard and seen in homes across the country.
"He was a man fully yielded to the Lord and God used him in a miraculous way," Barton said.
Barton heads the Ministry of Evangelism at Westside Baptist. He has been in ministry 47 years.
"His ministry has affected me in the sense that I have heard and listened and learned from him," he said.
He said Graham's character is a testament to his faith and his conviction.
"There's no one that is going to write that says anything that he was a fake or a fraud," Barton said. "He was the genuine article."
His character would open doors to the White House, Graham would become the Pastor to Presidents starting with Harry Truman.
"Billy was a humble man," said Tommy Underwood.
Graham's start in ministry is very rooted in Putnam County. There is a large mural in downtown Palatka.
He was baptized and ordained by Underwood's father Pastor Cecil Underwood.
"My dad was a mentor to Billy for years," Underwood said.
He became a friend of the family.
"I met him at several of his crusades and he would always say there's Tommy let me go talk to Tommy," he said. "It was a true friendship.
Marie Long, Tommy's sister, now lives in Cleveland. She used to work at Mayo Clinic and would either see Graham when he visited the hospital or at his North Carolina home.
"Everything about him to the core is genuine," she said.
At 93, Graham published his book 'Nearing Home' and he talked about the challenges of getting old and how he missed his wife Ruth.
Long says her friend is finally home.
"What an amazing welcoming he has for him at the pearly gates, led by Jesus and followed by his wife Ruth, that was his dream," Long said.