Franklin Graham has shared an update regarding famed evangelist Billy Graham, revealing that his beloved father is "doing well" and continues to receive weekly visits from his pastor.
In a Facebook post shared on Friday, Franklin Graham, the President of Samaritan's Purse, said many have asked him for an update regarding his father, who is now approaching his 99th birthday.
While Billy Graham, who still lives at his Montreat, North Carolina home, is "doing well", he does have the "physical challenges that come with his age", says Franklin.
"He enjoys visits from family members, including his sister who is his only remaining sibling," he shares. "Grandchildren and great-grandchildren also come by more frequently in these summer months. His pastor, Dr. Don Wilton from Spartanburg, South Carolina, continues to visit weekly which means so much. This has been a tradition of prayer and encouragement for more than 20 years-we are so grateful to Pastor Wilton."
Franklin says his father also enjoys the company of his pet cat, gifted to him by his family several years ago: "No one could ever remember her name, so we all call her 'Kitty', he admits. "She was a gift from all of us children on his 90th birthday and continues to be by his side."
He concludes: "Thank you for your concern and prayers for him-you really don't know how much that means to our family."
In a 2016 update, Franklin said that his father usually eats meals at the kitchen table, and "on days when the weather is good and he feels up to it" he enjoys gazing out at the mountains from his front porch.
While his eyesight and hearing are poor, the famed Baptist pastor watches the news with the help of a big screen TV and uses a wheelchair to get around.
"His ministry now is praying," Franklin Graham wrote, "and he looks forward to reports of what God is doing around the world. He always responds by saying 'Praise the Lord,' as he points upward."
Billy Graham is one of North Carolina's most famous sons and has made the annual "Most Admired" list a record 60 times. In addition to advising numerous political leaders, Graham is known for his crusades that brought the gospel to 215 million people, according to the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.
He's also written 33 books. His recent works include Where I Am: Heaven, Eternity, and Our Life Beyond (2015), The Reason for My Hope: Salvation (2013), The Heaven Answer Book (2012), Nearing Home: Life, Faith and Finishing Well (2011) and Storm Warning (2010).
Many influential pastors and faith leaders today recognize Billy Graham as one of their biggest inspirations. Greg Laurie, pastor of California megachurch Harvest Fellowship, told The Gospel Herald that Graham is, first and foremost, an "authentic follower of Jesus Christ".
"In person, he's everything you would've hoped he'd be and more," Laurie recalled. "He's gracious, he's kind, he's interested in other people, he listens, he's not critical of other people, and he is a very humble man."
He added, "He always is a joy to be around, and he is a man that I think has a real heart for God. He wanted to please the Lord. That really comes out."
Laurie, who himself has been called been called "the next generation's Billy Graham" and has known the evangelist for over 25 years, added that spending time with Graham gave him glimpse of what it must have been like to sit at Jesus' feet thousands of years ago.
"Billy Graham is the most Christlike man I've ever met, because being around him reminds me of what it would have been like to be with Jesus," the pastor said. "There isn't a mean bone in Billy's body. If he has a fault - if you could call it a fault - he always believes the best of people. Sometimes people would take advantage of him because of that. He is a very kind man, and I think that's why God has used him so mightily.