Evangelist Billy Graham will reach his 95th birthday on November 7; he intends to use this milestone to try to revitalize the church.
Graham has not preached in public since 2006 owing to the frail state of his health. He has now filmed a public message to be broadcast on national television on his birthday, giving fans a rare opportunity to see the man dubbed “America’s Pastor.”
Billy Graham says in a program titled “The Cross,” “With all my heart, I want to leave you with the truth… Our country is in great need of a spiritual awakening.”
He is launching the campaign because most U.S. evangelical leaders say they are losing influence.
Anne Wills, a religion professor at Davidson College outside of Charlotte said, “The students that I teach don’t really know who Billy Graham is… They don’t have any idea about the scope of his influence.”
A 2012 Pew Research Center report revealed that one third of adults under 30 consider themselves religiously unaffiliated.
Billy Graham was responsible for the ground-breaking use of media to bring Jesus Christ to the masses. He did this in tents and big-city stadiums, and visits to remote overseas villages.
The impact of his latest efforts, which include publication of his 32nd book, “The Reason for My Hope: Salvation” – remains to be seen. The new broadcast features clips from Billy Graham’s early preaching days and faith testimonies from two young musicians..
Billy Graham will celebrate his birthday at a party at the Grove Park Inn in Asheville, with 800 invited guests. These will include political and church leaders.
Billy Graham’s son, Franklin, recalled how guests at Graham’s 90th birthday smiled when he invited them to return in five years to celebrate his next milestone.
“Now he’s telling people he thinks he’s going to live to be 100,” Franklin Graham said. “So he’s moved the goal posts.”
An interesting analogy, since probably most Americans – outside the “Bible Belt” follow football more than they follow religion.
We take this opportunity to wish Billy Graham a happy 95th birthday.