Media tycoon Rupert Murdoch has joined the list of celebrities who will be attending evangelist Billy Graham's 95th private birthday party Thursday night, The Charlotte Observer reports
The pair have had a close bond
going back at least three decades, and in 1984, the Australian-born billionaire even agreed to spread Graham's powerful message through his news empire.
Former vice-presidential candidate and ex-Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is also on the guest list, according to the Observer, along with real estate mogul Donald Trump, pastor and author Rick Warren, and country music star Ricky Skaggs.
North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory is also scheduled to attend
along with Christian singer Michael W. Smith. The party, which is expected to have 800 people in attendance, is being held at Omni Grove Park Inn in Asheville, N.C., which is 20 miles from his home in the town of Montreat.
Graham, a Southern Baptist minister, is turning his party into what is thought to be his final evangelical sermon with the release of a video he recorded at home, which will be broadcast to homes and churches throughout the country. In his "My Hope" living room crusade, Graham says that America needs a spiritual awakening and the cross of Jesus Christ demands "a new lifestyle."
The DVD, called "The Cross," will first air at 10 p.m. Thursday on Fox News, a subsidiary of Murdoch's 21st Century Fox. In the next few days hundreds of TV stations and 25,000 churches will also air the recording, with pastors handing out copies of the video to congregants.
The forceful video, which will include testimonies from a noted rapper and an athlete, says that in order for people to have eternal salvation they must fully accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.
Palin has had a longtime relationship with Graham and even visited his home during a 2009 book tour. His son Franklin has a cabin in Alaska and paid a visit to her there. His ministry, Samaritan's Purse, ships relief supplies to Russia from the state.
On her Facebook page, Palin praised Graham and declared she was looking forward to attending the party. "It will be thrilling to pay tribute to Rev. Billy Graham next week as he celebrates his 95th birthday," she posted. "The entire Graham family has had such a positive influence on our nation and the world. God bless them!"
Graham has preached to an estimated 2.2 billion people in 185 countries over the course of 70 years. In an exclusive interview with Newsmax in October, Graham said that there was "a sea of immorality" pervasive in America and hinted that the second coming of Christ is "near."
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