Billy Graham celebrates 94th birthday Wednesday

Billy Graham celebrates 94th birthday Wednesday

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by CALEB TROOP / WCNC.com

WCNC.com

Posted on November 7, 2012 at 7:27 PM

MONTREAT, N.C. – The Rev. Billy Graham is spending the day after the election celebrating his 94th birthday.

The Evangelist has been in and out of the hospital recently and last publically appeared with Presidential candidate Mitt Romney last month at Graham’s Montreat, North Carolina home.

"I never expected I would live this long, outliving my beloved wife Ruth as well as many friends and loved ones," Rev. Graham said in a statement last week. "I believe God must still have a purpose for keeping me here, and I look forward to seeing what that might be."

Graham is expected to have a quiet celebration at his home with his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

"I love them all and can't wait to see them again," he said.

Graham is working to finish his 31st book about  his past seven decades in public ministry.  It is expected to be released in 2013.

Earlier this year Graham also finished a hardcover edition of an anthology documenting his life and legacy called ‘Chicken Soup for the Soul: Billy Graham & Me.’  It will be released in February.

At the Billy Graham library in west Charlotte, visitors are leaving messages on a birthday banner that will be delivered next week.

A friend and fellow pastor, Harold Bales is the author of the Southern Fried Pastor blog and helped plan Graham’s 1996 Charlotte crusade.

“Over time he became not only the great evangelist that he is but a great Christian diplomat, a great world diplomat, because he could relate to people from many different perspectives,” Bales said.

During the 30-minute October 11 visit with Romney, Graham pledged to do “all I can” to help Romney win on Tuesday.  A spokesperson for Graham said last week Graham would be “watching the results closely, as well as praying for those who are elected.”

Graham’s son, Franklin, has made political headlines over the last few months for controversial comments.

Earlier this year, the younger Graham expressed support for primary rival Rick Santorum, a Catholic. Pressed during an interview on MSNBC, Graham would not say that Romney was a Christian.

"He is a Mormon," Franklin Graham said in February. "Most Christians would not recognize Mormonism ... but he would be a good president if he won the nomination."

Franklin Graham also apologized for refusing, in the same interview, to say whether he believed President Barack Obama is a Christian.

President Obama visited Graham in 2010 while vacationing in Asheville.  After voting for President Obama narrowly in 2008, the Tar Heel state voted for Romney by a close margin on Tuesday.

Graham spent two days at Mission Hospital in Asheville in mid-August to be treated for a bronchitis infection.  He was hospitalized for pneumonia last November as well.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
 

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