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The Rev. William Franklin "Billy" Graham Jr., born Nov. 7, 1918, will mark his 95th birthday this week with a special message to America entitled "The Cross." The highly anticipated program, set for television and online broadcasts, may very well be the venerable evangelist's final message to the U.S.
Graham, who has counseled many U.S. presidents, including Dwight D. Eisenhower and Richard Nixon, and was a friend to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., revealed last month that his "timeless message of hope and redemption through Jesus Christ" was finally ready to be shared with Americans.
In a letter published Monday on the BGEA website, the Rev. Graham writes, "I've recently prepared what may well be my last message to our nation. I have prayed a great deal about this."
He adds, "With all my heart, I want to remind Americans of God's amazing love and, as simply and clearly as I can, call people to 'a repentance that leads to salvation' (2 Corinthians 7:10, ESV)."
According to the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA): "Woven within Graham's message are the faith stories of two popular musicians: rapper LeCrae Moore and former Flyleaf lead singer Lacey Sturm. You will be blessed by their testimonies and the original music that serves as the background to a simple and relevant explanation by Billy Graham of the saving power of the cross."
Indeed, the testimonies shared by Moore and Sturm in "The Cross" are powerful, and interwoven with Graham's account of Christ's "painful" crucifixion and God's purpose in sending His son to the cross, may prompt a sense of urgency among viewers. Classic scenes of the evangelist preaching in packed stadiums were also spliced into the 30-minute program.
Graham's "The Cross" message is a new addition to his ministry's "My Hope America With Billy Graham," a nationwide movement to expose Americans to the message of salvation in Jesus Christ. "My Hope" was originally launched in 2002 as an international evangelism effort, and has been shared with millions of people in South America, Europe, Africa, and Asia.
The 95-year-old Southern Baptist preacher retired to his North Carolina home in 2005 after 60 years of ministry, and since has written several books, including the 2013's The Reason for My Hope: Salvation. The Reason for My Hope, released in October, remains a leader in online sales, ranking on Amazon in the top three of Christian Faith books, ahead of Rob Bell's Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Live and David Platt's Radical: Taking Back Your Faith From the American Dream.
While Graham's heart-stirring message is scheduled to air on several cable networks beginning Nov. 7, the program also has been made available for restricted viewing via download as well as on DVD.
Watch a trailer for "The Cross" below: