CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - Billy Graham planned a quiet celebration at home for his 85th birthday Friday before beginning another year of his evangelistic ministry.
"I never dreamed that I would live to be 85," said Graham, who lives in Montreat in western North Carolina. "I am grateful to the Lord for the strength he gives me to hold additional crusades."
Graham has met this fall with members of his Charlotte-based evangelistic association, including his son, Franklin, to discuss a crusade for the coming year. He said doctors believe he has the stamina for additional crusades.
Graham said this past year had been a difficult one because of the deaths of his brother, Melvin, and his friend, country singer Johnny Cash.
Graham will announce his 2004 crusade schedule in January. Until then, he said he planned to spend time with his wife and other family members, including 19 grandchildren and more than 20 great-grandchildren.