(Photo: AP Images / Nell Redmond)
Doctors attending to evangelist Billy Graham in a North Carolina hospital since last Wednesday said they were encouraged by the progress in his recovery from pneumonia even as he was able to watch his pastor deliver a sermon on television Sunday.
“Doctors are encouraged by Mr. Graham’s significant clinical progress, but have not yet set a date for discharge,” Merrell Gregory, spokeswoman of Mission Hospital in Asheville, N.C., said in a statement Sunday.
Graham’s family visited him in the hospital over the weekend, and he watched on television his pastor, Dr. Don Wilton of First Baptist Church in Spartanburg, S.C., deliver his regular Sunday sermon, Gregory said. She also said the 93-year-old evangelist is showing progress in his physical therapy and “walking more in the private corridor outside his room.”
On Saturday night, Graham’s nurses told Billy Graham Evangelistic Association that he had a restful night and slept well. He was able to stand on Friday during a physical therapy session.
The evangelist was admitted on Nov. 30 for evaluation of his lungs; he was diagnosed with pneumonia. “He is responding well to antibiotic treatment and is in stable condition,” pulmonologist Mark Hellreich said the following day.
On Dec. 1, Pastor Wilton visited and spoke to him on Ephesians 1:15-16: “For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.”
Graham was hospitalized for successful treatment of pneumonia also in May 2011. However, he continues to minister to others.
Graham, who has spent personal time with 12 U.S. presidents, including Barack Obama, has been greeting hospital staff with interest and engaging them in questions about themselves, according to his staff.
Last month, Graham’s latest book, Nearing Home: Life, Faith, and Finishing Well, was released. “I can’t truthfully say that I have liked growing older,” Graham writes in the book, but that’s just part of the “realities of life as we grow older.” He invites readers “to explore with me … also the hope and fulfillment – and even joy – that can be ours once we learn to look at these years from God’s point of view and discover His strength to sustain us every day.”
Graham says God has a specific reason for keeping each person alive, and all, irrespective of their age, should strive to find out what His purpose is for these years, and how they can align their lives with it.