(Photo: A. Larry Ross Communications)
Evangelist Billy Graham, one of the biggest and most popular preachers in America, is getting ready to celebrate his 94th birthday on Nov. 7, and has said that he feels God still has a purpose for him at this late stage of his life.
"I never expected I would live this long, outliving my beloved wife Ruth as well as many friends and loved ones," Graham said. "I believe God must still have a purpose for keeping me here, and I look forward to seeing what that might be."
His birthday occurs one day after Americans go to the voting stations to elect a president – and polls are still showing an even race between GOP candidate Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama.
Graham, who has counseled many of America's top leaders, has been especially vocal in this campaign and has urged Americans not to forget their biblical values when deciding who to vote for. While stopping short of officially endorsing Romney, who Graham met last month in his home in North Carolina and praised for his "strong values," the evangelist has urged people to not forget the traditional definition of marriage and the pledge to protect unborn life, which Romney has advocated for.
The recent statement added that at the close of the meeting, "Mr. Graham offered a prayer for the Governor, his family and our nation and committed his ongoing prayers and spiritual support for him and his family."
This has led some to question Graham's involvement in politics, saying that he should not be swaying people as to who to vote for – but a Billy Graham Evangelistic Association spokesman told CP that there is nothing wrong with Graham preaching a biblical position.
"Throughout his public ministry spanning more than six decades, Mr. Graham has been careful to remain non-partisan, but has been a consistent advocate for a biblical worldview and taken a strong stand for biblical values with respect to political issues," Larry Ross said.
The press release by BGEA about Graham's birthday notes that the evangelist will be watching the election results closely, and praying for those who are elected.
"He keeps up with world events and has a great concern for our nation as he's observed a decline in respect for biblical values," the press release says.
Graham is also said to be in relatively good physical health despite his advanced age, and is even working on his 31st book, which summarizes "the Gospel message of God's love and forgiveness that he has faithfully preached for more than 60 years." The statement ads that the book is scheduled to come out sometime next year, but Graham won't stop there – he is considering getting involved in other writing projects, as he still has more to share and preach.
As for the birthday celebration itself, the press release notes that Graham is preparing for another quiet birthday at his home with his family, where he will get to spend some quality time with his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
"I love them all and can't wait to see them again," the evangelist said.