"America's pastor," Rev. Billy Graham turns 98 years old today (Nov. 7). His family said he would appreciate everyone's prayers. The Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, N.C., will hold a celebration in his honor Monday, which is free to the public with cake and a banner signing.
"Happy Birthday to my father, Billy Graham!" He told us three years ago he might live to be 100. I hope he does," Rev. Franklin Graham said of his father on Facebook. "He once said, 'God isn't finished with you when you retire! We never retire from His service.'"
Billy Graham was born in Charlotte in 1918. He served as a spiritual advisor to several presidents.
His son, Franklin Graham, is president and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and of Samaritan's Purse, an international Christian relief organization. He said his father has "faithfully preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ" for more than 70 years, having preached sermons and written books translated in different languages around the world.
"If there's one message he would want you to hear today, it is that God loves you and wants you to be saved," Graham said about his father, linking to a video titled "The Cross," where the 98-year-old evangelist shares his hopes that people will turn to God.
"It has a powerful message about forgiveness and hope that comes only through the Cross of Christ. It also has Lecrae and Lacey Sturm in it. Take time to watch it today, and share it with others. Hear what my father has to say about the importance of forgiveness," Graham stated.
In 2013, Billy Graham said "The Cross" likely was his last message to America, a conclusion he reached after a great deal of prayer. He was one of the first evangelists to use the power of media to reach the lost with the Gospel.
Graham is reportedly "doing well" health-wise. Franklin Graham told Religions New Service on Thursday they plan to get him one of his favorite treats to mark the special day Monday. "He likes these cheap birthday cakes that have that lard icing on them."
Billy Graham first gained prominence after his Los Angeles crusade in 1949. Since then, he has written 33 books and preached the Christian gospel to more people in live audiences than anyone else in history (nearly 215 million people), according to the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.