Billy Graham celebrates 99th birthday with family and close friends

Renowned American evangelist Billy Graham marked his 99th birthday on Nov. 7 with a celebration attended by his family and close friends who reflected on his life, legacy, and positive impact on the world.

(REUTERS / Billy Graham Evangelistic Association / Handout via Reuters)Billy Graham is pictured during a celebration for his 95th birthday in Asheville, North Carolina, in this November 7, 2013 handout photo provided by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.

On Tuesday, Rev. Graham's family and closest friends gathered in Montreat to celebrate his 99th birthday. Upstate pastor Dr. Donald Wilton, who has served as Graham's pastor, talked about the impact of the evangelist on his life, Fox Carolina detailed.

"In his physical body Mr. Graham is very frail. He's carrying a 99 year old body which happens to the best of us but his mind continues to be the same, beautiful mind that he's always had," Dr. Wilton said. "Because of the openness and the honesty of his own life in sharing with me and through that mentorship, I believe that God has allowed me to at least become a better person than I was before I sat down with him, and that's been every time."

Dr. Wilton summarized Graham's ministry to one thing --- a life transformed by Jesus Christ. He said the evangelist was determined to spread that hope and transformation to all people.

Graham's granddaughter Jerushah Armfield also spoke and highlighted the evangelist's humility and kindness. She expressed her appreciation for his dedication to share Jesus' love to the world and his unchanging spirit despite his age.

In a report, Religion News Service described Graham as a pastor who maintained his faith but mostly skipped the politics. He has gained fame as a precursor to the rise of evangelicals in the political realm but reportedly shied away from political issues in the public eye. Nevertheless, the people knew his stance on controversial issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage.

Rev. Graham's son Franklin said the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association was holding a year-long celebration of his father's 99th birthday. It will, among other things, highlight his dad's "impact on worldwide evangelism" and will include the testimonies of people who experienced change when they attended Graham's crusades.