Franklin Graham Shares Touching Tribute to Father Billy Graham on 97th Birthday: 'His Mind And Desire to Share The Gospel Are Strong As Ever'

Nov 09, 2015 12:01 PM EST

In honor of Billy Graham's 97th birthday, evangelist Franklin Graham shared a touching tribute highlighting his father's dedication to spreading the Gospel - even in his final days.

On Saturday, November 9th, Graham, who is the president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan's Purse, took to Facebook to wish his legendary father a happy birthday.

"Today is my father Billy Graham's 97th birthday!" Graham, 63, wrote. "He came to faith in Christ just a week before his 16th birthday and went home and told his mother what he had done. He knew for sure that his heart had changed."

Billy Graham is one of North Carolina's most famous sons and has made the annual "Most Admired" list a record 58 times.The evangelist grew up in Charlotte and currently resides in Montreat, North Carolina. In addition to advising numerous political leaders, Graham is known for his crusades that brought the gospel to 215 million people, according to the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.

"Graham transcends many of the divisions that break us apart as a state, and also Graham represents a time when it seems in retrospect that he was able to bridge ... those divisions," Billy Graham biographer Grant Wacker says.

In continuing his post, Franklin Graham explained that while his father is no longer able to preach due to physical complications related to Parkinson's disease, his mind is clear and his passion for sharing the Gospel is as strong as ever.

"His desire is still there to tell the world about God's love for them and how God sent His Son, Jesus Christ from heaven to earth to take the sins of all mankind to the cross, die, and arise on the third day," Graham wrote. "My father's desire is that all men and women everywhere would come to know Jesus Christ as their personal Savior and trust Him and follow Him as their Lord."

Just before his birthday, Billy Graham released his final book: "Where I Am: Heaven, Eternity, and Our Life Beyond."

"Heaven seems a mystery to many people," Graham writes. "They wonder if Heaven is above the lofty clouds, or if Heaven will come down to earth. When I am asked, 'Where is Heaven?' I simply answer: Heaven is where Jesus is."

Graham testifies about his confidence in his salvation. "[Jesus] told His disciples, 'I go to prepare a place for you ... that where I am, there you may be also!' So when my earthly life has ended and you wonder where I've gone, this will be the answer: I will be with Jesus-that's where I am."

In honor of his father dedication to sharing the Gospel throughout the country, Franklin Graham has announced three more stops on the Decision America tour in 2016, during which he will visit each of the 50 states to share his father's concern for America's survival, according to the Christian Examiner.

"Nearly 40 years ago," writes Franklin Graham, "my father said something that is even more pressing today. 'Will America turn to God at this late hour, or will America continue on the broad road that leads to destruction?'"

Franklin Graham explained that like his father, he fears a solution is impossible without spiritual change. "He [Billy Graham] continued with chilling words: 'America is too young to die.'"

In the Decision America tour, Franklin Graham will "challenge Christians to take a stand, to get off the sidelines, and to get involved in the political process at all levels."