Over the past century, it’s hard to imagine anyone who has made an impact for the Gospel of Jesus Christ than Billy Graham. The loved, respected evangelist is nearing his 98th birthday, and his son Franklin Graham is asking for friends and fans to pray for Billy.
In a recent newsletter, Franklin Graham gave an update on his father:
Many ask about my father. He is still in his own home and often eats meals at the kitchen table, as he has always done. Approaching age 98, he lives with limitations typical of old age—his eyesight is very poor, his hearing is not good, and he uses a wheelchair. Someone is with him in the house at all times.
One of the things he enjoys is sitting on the front porch and looking out over the mountains on days when the weather is good and he feels up to it. He watches news with the help of a large-screen TV. His ministry now is praying, and he looks forward to reports of what God is doing around the world. He always responds by saying “Praise the Lord” as he points upward.
The younger Graham, who is in the midst of his Decision America Tour where he is “crisscrossing the country, [and] going to every state capital,” recently told a group at one of his rallies how his father is approaching old age with grace and humor.
At Franklin’s most recent stop in Juneau, Alaska, on July 1, he opened the prayer rally by sharing greetings from his father.
“He doesn’t think anybody remembers who he is,” Franklin said with a laugh, “so he’ll say, ‘If you meet anybody who remembers me, tell ’em hello.’”
Franklin Graham also says that his father isn’t lying down just yet.
“He’s 97 years old,” Franklin Graham shared at another recent Decision America stop in Olympia, Washington. “When he was 90, he told all of us he was gonna live to 95. When he approached 95, he moved the goalpost. He said, ‘I’m now gonna live to be a hundred.’ … I hope he does.”
Billy Graham was born in 1918 near Charlotte, NC, and gave his life to Christ at age 15. Just a few years later, Graham was ordained as a pastor and began to preach the Gospel. His early crusades drew thousands upon thousands, and some of the crusades went on for weeks. In 1949, he led a crusade in Los Angeles that lasted eight weeks, while a 1957 crusade at Madison Square Garden was extended to 16 weeks, seven nights each week!
Graham formed the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association in 1950, and through the BGEA, he has had the opportunity to share the message of Jesus’ love with a stunning 215 million people! Throughout the late 1970s, Graham even took an opportunity to preach behind the Iron Curtain.
Graham has written 33 books, has met with presidents, and has received an astounding litany of awards, including the George Washington Medal Award for Patriotism from Freedoms Foundation of Valley Forge and the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation Freedom Award. He became the first non-musician to be inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 1999 and was named an Honorary Knight Commander of the order of the British Empire two years later. Not bad for the humble son of a dairy farmer!
In 2011, Graham shared his thoughts on leaving a legacy in old age:
God doesn’t want us to waste our latter years or spend them in superficial, meaningless pursuits. Instead He wants us to use them in whatever ways we can to influence those who will come after us. God wants us to finish well, and one of the ways we do this is by passing on our values and our faith to those who will follow us. The greatest legacy you can pass on to your children and grandchildren is not your money or the other material things you have accumulated in your life. The greatest legacy you can pass on to them is the legacy of your character and your faith.
Billy Graham has certainly left an honorable and indelible legacy. Let’s join Franklin Graham in praying for his father as he moves closer to the century mark.