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Happy 98th Birthday, Billy Graham!

By Michael W. Chapman | November 7, 2016 | 4:14pm EST

Pastor Billy Graham, who celebrated

his 98th birthday today, Nov. 7, 2016.

(Photo: BGEA)

Billy Graham, the most influential Protestant Christian evangelist of the last 60-plus years turned 98 today, November 7. Happy Birthday, Pastor Graham!

Billy Graham, who spends most of his time at his family home in Montreat, N.C., is doing fairly well in terms of his health, according to his son Franklin Graham. He still reads the Bible every day and prays every day, according to the younger Graham. 

Over the decades, Billy Graham's preaching reached nearly 215 million people in live audiences in more than 185 countries, states his profile at the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA). In addition, "hundreds of millions more have been reached through television, video, film, and webcasts," says the BGEA. Wikipedia says that Graham's lifetime audience, including radio and TV broadacsts, is 2.2 billion.

Graham was born in Charlotte, N.C., in 1918, four days before the end of WWI. He grew up during the Great Depression. When he was 15, he made a personal committment to Jesus Christ, according to the BGEA. In 1939, while earning a theology degree at the Florida Bible Institute, Graham joined a southern Baptist Convention church and was ordained a minister not long thereafter. 

Billy Graham, preaching the gospel in his younger years.  (BGEA) 

Graham went on to earn another degree, in anthropology, at Wheaton College. In 1943, he married Ruth Bell. They were married for 64 years; Ruth Bell Graham died in 2007 at age 87.

Billy and Ruth Graham had five children: Virginia Graham, Anne Graham Lotz, Ruth Graham, Franklin Graham, and Nelson Graham. Billy Graham has 19 grandchildren and numerous great-grandchildren. Franklin Graham oversees the BGEA and the international Christian relief group Samaritan's Purse and, like his father, regularly preaches in the United States and abroad.

Billy Graham preached the Gospel to live audiences, on radio, and on television in the United States and overseas between 1947 and 2014. He held countless Bible crusades and tent revivals. One 1957 crusade in Madison Square Garden ran nightly for 16 weeks, said the BGEA.  

Billy Graham. filled arenas and stadiums worldwide year after year.  An estimated 3.2 million people accepted Jesus Christ as their personal savior at the invitation of Billy Graham at his rallies. 

According to the Aug. 18, 2007 edition of the Cincinnati Post, as noted in Wikipedia, Billy Graham "preached the Gospel to more people in person than anyone in the history of Christianity." 

His radio program, "Hour of Decision," was broadcast worldwide for more than 60 years, according to the BGEA. His TV programs are still shown on Christian networks, and his magazine, Decision, enjoys a circulation of 425,000. Over the years, Billy Graham wrote 33 books, many of them best sellers. 

Graham was honored with the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation Freedom Award in 2000 and the Congressional Gold Medal in 1996. He was made an Honorary Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2001.

Ruth Graham (d. 2007) and Billy Graham.  (BGEA) 

Billy Graham has been ranked among Gallup's most admired men 55 times since 1955, more than any other person in the world, notes Wikipedia, citing Gallup. 

In 1992, Graham was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. He essentially stopped active preaching and "retired" in 2005. In 2010, he did attend the re-dedication of the Billy Graham Library. 

On his Facebook page today, Franklin Graham said his father told him three years ago "that he might live to be 100 -- I hope he does. He once said, 'God isn't finished with you when you retire! We never retire from His service.'"

 

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