The Rev. Billy Graham
is recovering from pneumonia at home, and the success of his most recent book has spurred him to write another, his son, the Rev. Franklin Graham, tells Newsmax.
The legendary evangelist, who had been hospitalized for six days until his release Dec. 6, is “doing much better” at his home near Asheville, N.C., said Franklin, who expressed hope that his father would “listen to his doctors.”
“They’ve given him some instructions of some things he needs to do and I think he’ll do them,” said Franklin, who is president and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and the international relief organization Samaritan’s Purse.
“At 93 years of age, he’s really in fairly good shape,” Graham said during an exclusive interview with Newsmax.TV. We are just so thankful that his mind is so sharp, very clear. He just finished writing a book this year. Actually, he has started now working on another book so that’s going to be his project for 2012.”
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The senior Graham’s latest book, “Nearing Home: Life, Faith, and Finishing Well,”
is not just for those who are aging and facing the end of life, but, as the evangelist says in the introduction, “for people at every stage of life — even those who have never thought much about growing older.”
“It has kind of encouraged him to see the book do so well, at 93 years of age, that people are still interested in buying a book that he’s authored,” Graham said. “He started it after my mother passed away and there were times that he just kind of — not that he lost interest, but I think he just got tired and he would quit working on it for a few weeks or a few months. And we just weren’t sure that he would do it, but he kept plugging away at it and yes, the book has done very well . . . So that has encouraged him to start another book.”
The issue of mortality addressed in the book is universal, the younger Graham said.
“The death rate is the same for all of us,” he said. “All of us are going to die. How are we going to live our life, are we going to be ready to stand before almighty God? And the Bible makes very clear that after death comes the judgment. We stand before God and we have to give an account to him for how we have lived our life but also if we have accepted his provision for our salvation and that’s his son, Jesus Christ . . . We are at Christmas where we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, God’s son, that God gave for the sins of this world and so we need to be ready to stand before God and give an account to him.”
Christmas is a special time for Graham’s Samaritan’s Purse, which is perhaps best known for its Operation Christmas Child. The campaign sends donated shoe-box-size care packages to needy children filled with toys, school supplies, and items of clothing or personal hygiene.
“We’ve been doing this now for 20 years,” Graham said. “The first year we started, we had about 11,000 boxes, and so today it’s close to 9 million in 110 different countries.”
Graham told the story of a teenage girl who approached him at an appearance in Albuquerque, N.M., and handed him a box for a child. The girl told him that she had received one herself 10 years previously while she was in refugee camp in Bosnia and that it had given her hope. An Albuquerque family adopted the girl, who is attending college and working at Walmart.
“Here it is, it’s gone full circle,” he said. “You have kids that are giving gifts that were receiving boxes 10 years ago. ... To think that we can have an impact on a child’s life is huge. That we can touch a child, a child that has no hope, a child that is living in slum, a child whose parents have been killed, a child that feels they’ve been forgotten, and to be able to reach out and touch that child and give them a gift and let them know that God has not forgotten, that God cares for them, that God gave his Son for them and be able to explain the true meaning of Christmas, the hope that this gives to millions of children around the world that they’re not forgotten.”
The poor economic times in this country have not harmed Operation Christmas Child, Graham said.
“We have found that even those families that have difficulties themselves, they’re the ones who seem to give the most. ... We find that many times it’s the poor that give the most,” he said. “I think maybe because they have lived through it, and they know and they understand what a simple gift can mean to a person when they’re down and out and have nowhere to turn.”
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