MONTREAT, N.C. (BP) -- Billy Graham remains passionate for the Kingdom, Frank Page observed during a May 12 visit with the 93-year-old evangelist.
"His focus is singular as it has always been on winning the lost for Christ," Page, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Executive Committee, said after meeting with Graham at the evangelist's home in Montreat, N.C. "He is [physically] weak. But his mind is sharp as ever."
Page visited Graham as the guest of Don Wilton, pastor of First Baptist Church in Spartanburg, S.C., where Graham is a member. Page described the meeting as a gift from God.
"It was a great encouragement to me spiritually. When I left I wept with tears of joy because I felt I was in the presence of spiritual greatness," Page said. "It is one of the things I've wanted my whole life. That was a great gift from God for me to visit this great man."
Page described Graham as a humble man who has led a life of "unquestionable integrity" and a mentor since Page's earliest years in ministry.
"He really from a distance became a spiritual mentor to me; I told him that Saturday. He helped mentor me and shape me in ways he had no idea," Page said. "He quickly said all praise goes to the Lord."
Graham's "piercing blue eyes" came alive when the two discussed ministry, Page said. Particularly, Page assured Graham of the Southern Baptist Convention's support of the "My Hope with Billy Graham" initiative scheduled in November 2013 to commemorate the evangelist's 95th birthday.
"Several times I saw those eyes come alive," Page said. "I was able to tell him Southern Baptists will be a major part of that emphasis." North American Mission Board leaders are exploring ways to support the outreach, Page said.
My Hope will encourage laypeople across America to host a meal for a few neighbors during a special Billy Graham television broadcast featuring music, testimonies and short messages from Graham's international ministry over the years. The broadcast will give laypeople opportunities to share their personal testimonies and to encourage their neighbors to accept Christ as their Lord and Savior. Resources for the event are available at www.myhope2013.org
Graham blessed Page, telling him that God has placed the SBC executive "in this position … for the cause of Christ."
"This was on my bucket list," Page said of the visit with Graham. "I've attended meetings with him and seen him at a distance, but [I had] never ever met the man."
Diana Chandler is Baptist Press' staff writer. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).