Evangelist Billy Graham celebrated his 88th birthday Tuesday. Although his live preaching, heard by over 210 million people, is no longer coming from his trademark evangelistic crusade stage, the timeless evangelist has not ceased to lose influence in an ever-changing America.
Graham's last crusade event was in June 2005 in the Greater New York area, but his ministry has continued to keep the gospel message alive and running around the world through a passed on legacy and new outreaches.
His son Franklin Graham, who now heads the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, is preaching "Jesus saves" nonstop and just completed his eighth festival in Okinawa, Japan this year alone. And grandson Will Graham had his first U.S. evangelistic celebration last month in Gaston County, N.C.
"Our grandson Will just held his first crusade here in the United States, where he preached the Gospel with strength and boldness, and people responded. We couldnt be prouder of him," said the eldest Graham in a news release Monday.
While Graham did not hold any of his own events this past year, he preached alongside his son in New Orleans and the Metro Maryland area despite weakened health.
"He never told the world that he wouldn't keep preaching," Franklin Graham told The Washington Post before the Metro Maryland Festival.
Billy Graham's gospel proclamation also continues with the new Billy Graham Library, opening early 2007. Neither a memorial nor a museum, the library is described as an "ongoing ministry" recalling the past decades of preaching by Graham and reminding the public of the message of the Cross for future generations.
Now 88, Graham spends most of his time at home with his wife Ruth doing Bible study and sharing in spiritual fellowship.
"As I grow older, my confidence in the inspiration and authority of the Bible has grown even stronger. So has my conviction that only Christ can give us lasting hope - hope for this life, and hope for the life to come," he said in a letter to Newsweek which recently ran a story on his life.
"In some ways, this has been a difficult year for us, as we have been reminded of the challenges of advancing age, Graham said in the earlier statement Monday as he and his wife struggle with with age-related health issues. Yet, we still look forward with hope, as we know that every day brings us closer to a reunion with our loved ones and a face-to-face meeting with our Savior.
"In other ways, it has been a good year, as we have seen our children and grandchildren continue to grow in their faith and embrace the ministries God has for them."
After having completed his latest book, The Journey, Billy Graham continues work on several writing projects and chairs the BGEA Board of Directors' meetings. He may also consider future opportunities to preach.