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OPINION

Billy Graham in hospital with bronchitis

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ASHEVILLE, N.C. (BP) -- Evangelist Billy Graham was admitted to the hospital Sunday morning, is being treated for a bronchitis infection and is listed in stable condition, according to a hospital news release.

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Graham, 93, rested well during his first night at Mission Hospital in Asheville, N.C., near his home in Montreat, and as of Monday morning (Aug. 13), he was up having breakfast and "doing fine," nurses reported.

"Mr. Graham continues to do well and the infection is responding well to treatment," Mission Hospital pulmonologist David Pucci said.

After being admitted to the hospital and described as "alert and in good spirits," Graham watched on television as his grandson Will Graham preached at First Baptist Church in Spartanburg, S.C., and later his daughter Gigi and another grandchild visited.

"They ate lunch together and enjoyed a relaxing afternoon," the news release said.

Sunday evening, Graham watched the closing ceremony of the London Olympics from his hospital bed.

"The ceremony brought back fond memories of various crusades Mr. Graham held in the UK and in Rio de Janeiro, the host city for the next Summer Olympics, over seven decades of public ministry," A. Larry Ross, Graham's spokesman, said.

No date had been set for discharge at the time of the news release, but doctors were hopeful Graham could return home soon. The hospital said Graham "remained in good overall health the past year," though he normally is homebound "due to age-related conditions."

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Graham "remains actively involved in ministry and writing projects, including near completion of a manuscript for a new book summarizing his Gospel message over the past seven decades of public ministry," another hospital news release said.

The renowned evangelist was hospitalized last November for successful treatment of pneumonia and resumed his ongoing program of physical therapy and normal activity shortly after his release, his staff reported.

Frank Page, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Executive Committee, was quoted in The Greenville News Aug. 13 saying he has looked up to Graham his whole life. Page has called Graham "a mentor from afar."

"As a little boy growing up, he was a great influence on me, and he had no idea of it," Page, a former Greenville-area pastor, told the South Carolina newspaper. "He's my hero."

Page met the evangelist in May at Graham's home as the guest of Don Wilton, pastor of First Baptist Spartanburg, where Graham is a member.

"I was privileged to spend some time with him," Page told The Greenville News. "He is greatness personified in humility and Christian service. He is a man of integrity and passion for the Bible."

Fred Luter met with Graham July 26 in Montreat, and Graham applauded Luter's election as the first African American president of the Southern Baptist Convention.

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"Dr. Graham was really excited about the future of the Southern Baptist Convention, and he was real excited that the convention had elected an African American president," Luter told Baptist Press. "He's always been one who believed in the different ethnic groups. There was a time when he wouldn't even have his crusades in a town if other ethnic groups were not included."

With Luter, Graham mentioned how difficult it was growing old.

"He never thought he would grow this old, but he's sharp. His mind is still sharp. I was just amazed at how mentally focused he was," Luter said.

Compiled by Baptist Press assistant editor Erin Roach. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress ) and in your email ( baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).

Copyright (c) 2012 Southern Baptist Convention, Baptist Press www.BPNews.net

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