Billy Graham will celebrate his 90th birthday on Nov. 7 and mark the milestone with a private family dinner near his mountainside home outside Asheville, N.C.
For the past few months the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA), the worldwide ministry that Billy Graham started in 1950, has encouraged individuals around the world to bless the evangelist by sending him a birthday greeting or a story of how his ministry influenced their lives.
BGEA has received tens of thousands of these messages online, via billygraham90.com, and through the mail; and they are being collected to share with him as part of the birthday celebration.
“I never expected to live this long, and it is hard to believe I have reached the age of 90,” says Mr. Graham. “Every day is a gift from God, no matter how old we are. I have discovered that just because we grow weaker physically as we age, it doesn’t mean that we must grow weaker spiritually. In fact, we ought to be growing stronger spiritually because our eyes ought to be on eternity and Heaven–on the things that really matter.”
Mr. Graham hopes to finish a new book based on his personal experience with growing older. He wants to share how people can be prepared emotionally and spiritually for what, he says, can be the most fulfilling years of life.
Despite the June 2007 death of his beloved wife Ruth Bell Graham, Mr. Graham is upheld by his family and by the hope of the Gospel message that he has preached faithfully for more than six decades.
“I look forward even more to the time when I will be reunited with my wife in heaven, and neither of us will ever experience again the physical aches and pains brought about by age and illness,” says Mr. Graham.
Mr. Graham stays informed about the ongoing ministry of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA), which is under the leadership of his son, Franklin. This past year, Mr. Graham has participated in ministry board meetings and other activities as his health has allowed.
He enjoys hearing reports from around the world of meetings held by Franklin, which include a Festival in Taipei, Taiwan, last weekend–and by his grandson Will and other associate evangelists. He also follows closely the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team’s work in times of crisis, such as in the aftermath the hurricanes in the Gulf Coast region earlier this year.
“I am proud of Franklin’s leadership of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and the way it is showing the love of Christ to a hurting world and using new technology to share the Gospel message,” Mr. Graham says.
In light of a difficult economy and the ongoing war on terror, Mr. Graham also has paid close attention to the political cycle and the race for the White House.
“President Elect Barack Obama faces many challenges,” Mr. Graham says, “and I urge everyone to join me in pledging our support and prayers as he begins the difficult task ahead.”