Most of my family and my personal staff just joined with me in celebrating my 90th birthday, and I have been overwhelmed by the many expressions of kindness and love that have come my way in recent weeks.
These have been a great encouragement to me, and my only regret is that Ruth is not here to share this moment. I rejoice that she is now safely in the presence of the Lord she loved and served so faithfully–but I continue to miss her. I am grateful for Christ’s presence with me every day and for the hope we have because of His death and resurrection for us.
To each of you who sent me birthday wishes, I am deeply grateful and humbled by your thoughtfulness.
Recently a friend asked me what my thoughts were on this milestone in my life. I told him that my first reaction was surprise–because I never thought I would live this long! But God had other plans, and I give Him the glory for His faithfulness and His blessings to me across the years.
Many memories flood my mind at this time: my boyhood years on my father’s dairy farm outside Charlotte; my parents’ example of hard work and faithfulness to Christ; my years at college; my first attempts at preaching. (My first sermon as a student was in a small rural church in Florida. I carefully prepared four sermons from which I could choose, thinking each one might take up to 45 minutes to preach. With great nervousness I got up and preached all four–in only eight minutes!)
But I also told my friend that my main reaction as I have approached my 90th birthday has been one of deep gratitude and thankfulness. For over seven decades, my calling has been to preach the simple message of the Gospel: that God loves us, that He sent His Son into the world to take away our sins by His death on the cross, that we can be forgiven and reconciled to God through faith in Christ as our Lord and Savior, that through Him we can have hope–hope for a new life right now, and hope for a joyous eternity with Him in Heaven.
As I look back, I am thankful to God for the privilege we have had of seeing countless people across the world respond to this life-changing message–and I am thankful to you for being our faithful partner in this ministry.
You have stood with us by your prayers and your financial support, and without you this ministry simply would not have been possible.
However, I am grateful not only for what God has done in the past, but what He continues to do in the present through the worldwide ministry of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. Some people have wondered if our work is nearing its end–but the opposite is the case. Franklin and the BGEA team have more opportunities to proclaim the message of salvation across the world than they can accept with our present resources.
Because of technology which makes the Gospel available to many more people through television and the Internet, in the last few years we have seen more people come to Christ through our evangelistic outreaches than ever before.
Instead of winding down our work, God seems to be accelerating it!
For example, as I write this letter we are nearing the culmination of our nationwide My Hope project in Brazil, which has the fifth-largest population in the world. An astonishing 50,000 churches have signed up to partner with us, and hundreds of thousands of local Christians have been trained to reach out to their neighbors when the My Hope programs are broadcast across the nation and into their homes.
As early reports come in of hundreds who have already come to Christ, it is apparent that God is using this project to call new believers to Himself at a pace we can hardly fathom. Continue to pray for Brazil and this unprecedented outreach.
This year Franklin and his son Will have had seven major Crusades in five countries, with many thousands coming to Christ. In addition, our numerous other evangelistic projects across the world–through television, radio, disaster response teams, the Internet, evangelism training, etc.–continue to reach out to thousands.
In my lifetime the world’s population has exploded, and we dare not step back from our Lord’s command to proclaim the Gospel to the ends of the earth. Never have there been so many open doors for evangelism–and never has the need for proclaiming the Gospel been greater.
These are challenging economic times for our world–and I know this may be true for you personally. But more than ever we are counting on your prayers and your generous financial support. Your sacrificial giving makes you stand with us as one who “gathers fruit for eternal life” (John 4:36, NKJV). You are an encouragement to us as we seek to continue the work God has called us to do.
During this Thanksgiving holiday season, I want to thank God again for you, and for the privilege that has been mine of joining hands with you in the proclamation of the Gospel. May God bless you.
P.S. – Please consider a generous contribution during this season of Thanksgiving so we can continue to take the Gospel of Jesus Christ to people who have never heard. As our Lord multiplied five loaves and a few fish to feed a multitude, He can multiply your gift–regardless of the amount–to help us carry out this great task.