'America's Pastor' Billy Graham, who has been the face of U.S. evangelicals for the last half century, sat among 800 guests, including Donald Trump, Rupert Murdoch, Sarah Palin, on his 95th birthday celebration. They honored Graham for his more than six-decades of unwavering resolve in the proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
While the celebration was for the aged evangelist, the 'Pastor of Presidents' had a message for those gathered and for the millions watching the 'My Hope America' program broadcasted nationwide on Fox News prime time: the cross. The program began with the 30-minute video, in which rapper Lecrae and former Flyleap lead singer Stacy Sturm shared their testimony and Graham explicating the meaning of the death, life, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Then, his son Franklin shared how he waited 22 years before realizing he "was sick and tired of being sick and tired," and extended the same invitation to accept Christ. From Nov. 7-10, over 28,000 churches in America are inviting neighbors and loved ones into their homes and congregation to watch "The Cross" and then extending the same call to receive salvation.
"There have been many times that I've wept as I've gone from city to city... I've seen how far people have wandered from God," said Graham in "The Cross." His hope for those gathered at the celebration and for all those watching "The Cross" is that all can earnestly turn from their sins and trust in the Jesus Christ to save them.
Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin shared towards the end of the program about her mother making a decision to follow Jesus through a televised Billy Graham Crusade, which impacted her entire family for Christ, according to the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association's website.
Fox News host Greta Van Susteren closed the night by leading a group singing "Happy Birthday." The singers for the musical harmony include Michael W. Smith, rapper Lecrae Moore, Kathie Lee, Gifford and Ricky Skaggs.
Although Graham was not scheduled to speak, he addressed the crowd twice at the end of the program. He first thanked his ministry partner Cliff Barrows, who has co-worked with Graham more than sixty years ago, "for all that you have meant to me through all these years," according to BGEA. Then, he recognized his grandson, Edward Graham, an Army Major. "We're so proud of you," he said.
According to BGEA, Barrows responded, "I thank God for every remembrance of you, and I praise God for the journey we've had...with all my heart."