Friday, November 07, 2008

Happy 90th, Rev. Graham!

Today is the Rev. Billy Graham's 90th birthday. The "nation's reverend" will spend the big day with family members -- and some North Carolina barbecue, according to the Associated Press.

"The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association has gathered messages, greetings and stories from supporters to present to Graham as he celebrates.

"Graham's health has declined in recent years, and he spends much of his time secluded at his mountainside home in Montreat. The past adviser to several presidents and globe-trotting evangelist was hospitalized last month after tripping over his dog and at other times has been treated for fluid on the brain, prostate cancer and macular degeneration."

Graham's health may be declining, but his mind still appears sharp.

Graham "spends his days in his mountaintop home in Montreat, relying on a walker to navigate the trek from bedroom to study," says the Charlotte Observer. "His voice is now soft, his hair snow-white. He's watched over around the clock by a nurse and a trusty golden retriever named Sam.

"Like so many others battling old age, the Charlotte-born Graham tires easily, naps often, is sometimes lonely and has great difficulty hearing. In conversation, his responses aren't as quick as they once were. Macular degeneration is slowly stealing his sight, denying him one of the chief pleasures of his life: reading the Bible. ...

"But for all the loss, those around Graham say his mind remains sharp, his memory strong. And like the young preacher whose calendar was ever-full, the elderly Graham still prefers to focus on the future: on that day he'll see Ruth again in heaven and finally get to gaze on the face of Jesus, who he has served faithfully since his conversion at a Charlotte revival in 1934.

" 'I've discovered that just because we'll inevitably grow weaker physically as we get older, it doesn't mean we must grow weaker spiritually,' Graham, still the evangelist, said in response to questions e-mailed by the Observer. 'Our eyes ought to be on eternity and heaven – on the things that really matter.' ..."

Happy birthday, Rev. Graham. Here's to many, many more.

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