Celebration Held For Friend Of Graham’s 99th Birthday
CHARLOTTE, N.C. —
The man whose voice has been the heart of Billy Graham’s ministry, singer George Beverly Shea, turned 99 on Tuesday.
Graham couldn’t attend the big birthday party in Charlotte at the Billy Graham Museum because he’s still recovering from brain surgery. Although he was missed, the day was still one for celebration.
Shea sang uplifting tunes along with Graham’s best friend, Dr. Cliff Barrows, and son, Franklin Graham. Barrows and Shea even gave a rousing rendition of Shea's most popular hymn, "How Great Thou Art".
RAW VIDEO: Shea, Barrows Reminisce About The Past 60 Years
“We thank God that you're in your 100th year and still singing, isn't that amazing?” Barrows, of the Billy Graham Evangelical Association, said.
Even more amazing, Barrows and Shea reminisced on more than 60 years of vivid memories with hundreds of friends and employees of Graham’s ministry.
“Tell them about the officer who arrested you for speeding,” Barrows said.
“That was about 5 years ago, on the way to Canada,” Shea said. “He said, ‘Is this your vehicle? You're going pretty fast -- 83.’ Of course I apologized, but that didn't do any good.”
Fortunately when the officer found out Shea’s name, he said he couldn’t give him a ticket or his mother would be very upset.
It was only fitting then that, along with a cake, the ministry gave Shea a new Chevrolet Suburban and a wallet with $400 gas money to drive into his second century with the blessings of his good friend who couldn’t be there.
“This is a letter from Daddy, which he wanted me to read,” said Franklin Graham. He read, “Bev Shea is one of the most faithful servants of the Lord I've ever known. I count it a great privilege to be his friend for so many years.”
But it was Shea who called himself “the privileged victim” of a ministry and a gift he’s honored to share.
“You can spell privilege only one way, being able to do that -- thank the Lord for the privilege,” he said.
“I've told Bill, when we get to Heaven, I'll be out of a job, but you won't!” Barrow joked.
Shea said later he had spoken with Rev. Graham at his home, and that Graham is doing well after recent surgery