FINDING A PERSONAL MINISTRY
Where there is no wife, there is no home!
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According to Webster’s New World Dictionary, grace is defined as “beauty or charm of form, composition, movement, or expression.” Ruth Graham (age seventy-three) (Source: “Hindsights” copyright 1993) is the embodiment of grace... She has. nothing. to prove, no one..to. compete with, and she’s wholly at peace with herself.
Ruth. Graham. measures her life by the Bible’s standards and values—not other people’s... She is the daughter of. Presbyterian. medical .missionaries, the wife of the Christian evangelist Billy Graham, the mother of five children, and the author of several books. She grew up in Tsingkiang, Jiangsu, China , where her father ran a hospital. She went to boarding school in Korea when she was thirteen. This chapter is about devotion to God and family.
Ruth Graham and I talked in her husband’s study in the offices of the Billy Graham Ministry in Montreat, North Carolina . It is a simply decorated, wood-paneled office with a fireplace. One of the most interesting mementos is a stack of Bibles that look as old as sin. In the middle of the interview, Billy called from their house (about a half-mile away) to ask her why he smelled burnt toast. She told him she had already checked, and things were OK. When she hung up, she explained to me that their house is made of logs, so the smell of anything burning is a most serious concern.
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Being Married to Billy Graham
IN 1935, WHEN GRAHAM WAS SIXTEEN YEARS OLD, HER FAMILY SPENT A FURLOUGH YEAR IN MONTREAl, NORTH CAROLINA. A YEAR LATER SHE FINISHED HIGH SCHOOL IN MONTREAl, AND IN 1937 SHE ENTERED WHEATON COLLEGE IN ILLINOIS. AT THE TIME , SHE INTENDED TO GO ON A MISSION TO TIBET AFTER GRADUATION.
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I had already been there [Wheatonj for three years, and Billy was a transfer student from Florida Bible College. I was going up the steps of Blanchard Hall one day, and he was coming down two at a time. I just thought to myself, There is a young man in a hurry.
I taught Sunday school at Moosehart and Rural Bible Crusade. Before going, we would meet in the lobby 0f Williston Hall, which is one of the dormitories. I heard this man praying, and I thought, There is a man who knows to whom he is speaking, and thought nothing more of it.
One day—it must have been some weeks later—he came over in the library and asked me if I would go to the Messiah with him. I said I would. He picked me up at my dorm, and we walked the six blocks to the campus.
It’s strange, but when I prayed that night, I just said to the Lord, “If you would let me spend the rest of my life with that man, I would consider it the greatest privilege imaginable.” I didn’t know what I was asking for. Looking back, if I had known what was coming, I might not have had the nerve. [Laugh.] But that was it. 1 never said any more. It sort of took off from there— sort of slowly.
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FOR THEIR ENTIRE FIFTY YEARS OF MARRIAGE,
GRAHAM HAS SHARED HER HUSBAND WITH
THOUSANDS OF CHRISTIANS AROUND THE WORLD.
HER EXPLANATION TO THOSE WHO ASKED HOW
SHE COPED WITH THIS WAS, “I’D RATHER HAVE
BILL PART-TIME THAN ANYBODY ELSE FULL-TIME.
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Looking back, being married to anybody but Bill might be boring. There were times when I envied—not really envied, because I think that is the wrong word— wives who have their husbands at home more, and a more normal, more usual sort of life.
I just thank God for the privilege that He has allowed me to be married to the man that I think is the finest man I know. So it has been a privilege to share him with the rest of the world. It’s not always easy, but He never promised it to us easy.
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BILLY GRAHAM’S LONGTIME RIGHT-HAND
MAN, T. W. WILSON, DESCRIBES RUTH’S
INFLUENCE ON BILLY IN THIS WAY: “THERE
WOULD HAVE BEEN NO BILLY GRAHAM AS
WE KNOW HIM TODAY HAD IT NOT BEEN
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I would not recommend any other young person try to do what Bill did. When Bill started, there weren’t other young preachers in the country . I can think of one or two other evangelists—a lot of wonderful preachers, but I am thinking of real evangelists who are on the road preaching. Today there’s not the same need.
For a young man to go into this type of work with his eyes open...it can be very attractive, in a sense, if you stay in hotels and if you have room service. You are more or less free. You don’t have to come home to a tired wife and scrappy kids and try to help them through supper and have a good time and tuck them in bed.
You are saved a lot of hassle, and yet the hassle is a part of the ministry. People talk about the Lord’s work, and you think of going out and preaching or working as a missionary. The Lord’s work is also the home and the family. So today I would urge young men to make mighty sure that God is calling them to this.
Before we were married, Bill was pastor of a little church in Wheaton, and they gave us a shower before we were married. The shower consisted of little sayings on pieces of paper. The best one, the one I’ve never forgotten, is that if two people agree on everything, one of them is unnecessary.
The important thing is to know when to disagree. You never disagree when tired or preoccupied or sleepy . That doesn’t leave us much time.... [Laugh] Never disagree with your hair up in rollers. Try to look as nice as you can . Tone of voice is very important. Rules of courtesy are very important. ( Rules of courtesy are very important. )
See, I come from a long line of strong-minded, hardheaded individuals. Some people are much more flexible, milder, I would say, so there were times... but we celebrate our fiftieth this August.
BECAUSE BILLY WAS AT HOME “PART-TIME,”
GRAHAM RAISED HER CHILDREN WITH THE
HELP OF GOD, HER PARENTS, AND THE LOCAL
There have been times when I wished we could have him [Billy Graham] at home more. Especially, this has been hard on the children, and it has been hard on him, although I don’t think he realizes how much he missed seeing them as they were growing up.
I remember Anne, when she was little, sitting out in the yard, and a plane went overhead. I saw her look up and wave her little hands and say, “Bye, Daddy! Bye, Daddy!” I guess she just associated planes with her daddy.
I don’t think the children remember the absences as much as they remember the times when he was home, and each one has happy memories of their father. He is a very caring person, and I think when they were little they thought that everybody’s father traveled.
I tell you, if I didn’t have God and know He was there with me, I couldn’t have managed. And also, our wonderful friends. We live in a unique community. It used to be mainly for retired ministers and retired missionaries. We had the kindest neighbors.
The important thing, if a man feels like God has called him on the road, is to settle his wife where she would be the happiest. She — not he—may have to choose. In some places I don’t think I could have made it, but at the time Mother and Daddy lived right across the road here, and we lived right next door.
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THE GRAHAM’S FIVE CHILDREN FACED
GREAT PRESSURE TO EITHER CONFORM
TO OR REBEL AGAINST WHAT THEIR
FAMOUS FATHER STOOD FOR.
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We never put pressure on them. They were just not aware that their father was.... He was special to them, but they didn’t realize that he was well-known. Courtesy takes care of a lot of things. Courtesy for strangers, courtesy for one’s superiors, courtesy for everybody—and a desire to help. Because their father was special doesn’t mean that they are. They have to earn the right to be respected.
The tourists were pretty bad at first. If they drove past, we knew they were Episcopalians. If they stopped and looked down, we thought they were Presbyterians. If they stopped and came down to the road, we knew they were Baptists. [Laughed.]
For all the handicaps they got from being a child of Billy Graham, there have also been certain privileges: trips that they have been able to make, a global point of view that they’ve caught from their father, and friends from all over the world. There are many pluses along with the minuses.
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GENTLEMAN’S QUARTERLY AND OTHER MAGAZINES
HAVE WRITTEN ABOUT THE GRAHAM CHILDREN. ONE
SON IN PARTICULAR, FRANKLIN, HAS DRAWN MEDIA
ATTENTION BECAUSE OF HIS INTEREST IN MOTORCYCLES,
GUNS, AND FAST CARS.
My father loves motorcycles. My father had a Harley-Davidson in China. He got it because it was the only thing you could get through those narrow Chinese streets back in the old days, but he had fun on it too. I remember a lot of the missionaries had Harley-Davidsons. He had a sidecar at the time; mother and we kids could ride in the sidecar.
I remember one time... our city straddled the Grand Canal, and eighty miles north of us lived the Currys. Uncle Ed—everyone was uncle and aunt to the missionary children — Uncl e Ed Curry and Daddy got out on the canal with the motorcycle —it was frozen over.
One got on the motorcycle, and one got on ice skates. The one on the motorcycle would aim for every object in the canal —the Chinese children threw rocks and sticks into the canal. The one behind would have to quick-jump to keep from hitting the same thing.
I cannot see anything wrong with enjoying something like a motorcycle. If it were immoral or illegal, no. His love for guns goes way back to childhood, and as long as Franklin doesn’t misuse it, I see no harm in it.
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THE SUCCESS OF THE
BILLY GRAHAM MINISTRY.
THE BILLY GRAHAM MINISTRY HAS BEEN
IMMENSELY SUCCESSFUL IN BRINGING
PEOPLE TO CHRISTIANITY. RUTH GRAHAM
ATTRIBUTES ITS SUCCESS TO THREE FACTORS.
One, I attribute our success to the sovereignty of God; two, to the cooperation of the local churches; and three , to prayer. People have realty upheld him in mass prayer, which has kept him going. I don’t know why God chose him, but I do know that he couldn’t have gotten along without the prayer of the local churches.
It’s a good thing, because when he leaves a town, the baby Christians are left to be nurtured by those local churches. It makes a tremendous difference if they have that support and guidance and backup of the local churches and the local Christians.
I cannot overstate the power of prayer. When I get upset about something, our son Ned is fond of saying, ‘Mother , God is not a little bit sovereign.” We know we live in the devil’s world, but God is still omnipotent. He is sovereign.
THE BILLY GRAHAM MINISTRY PROVIDES A VERY
SHARP CONTRAST TO THE SCANDALS SURROUND-
ING HIM AND TAMMY BAKKER AND JIMMY SWAG-GART . GRAHAM BELIEVES THESE SCANDALS ILLUSTRATE THE CORRUPTING POWER OF MONEY
AS WELL AS THE FORGIVENESS OF GOD.
My hindsight about those is really grief and pity. When my husband was in Rochester, Minnesota, the last time to go to the Mayo Clinic, the doctor who was in charge took him over to see Jim Bakker [at the Federal Medical Center in Rochester, Minnesota].
Bakker had no idea who was coming. He just came into the room, and his job was to clean something like forty toilets a day. He had on these dirty whites and tennis shoes. He had lost a lot of weight, and he was so humble.
I am convinced he is a true man of God; he just got misled. He came from a very poor family. Both he and his wife did . So often when you come from a very, very poor family—I mean really just an outhouse and no indoor plumbing—and all of a sudden run into all that kind of money and fame, you may not know how to handle it . It’s kind of intoxicating.
I never met Jimmy Swaggart. I know he is an enormously talented person. I used to watch him occasionally just for entertainment value—which is not the reason for watching—but he could sing, he could play. He is just a really gifted person.
What happened I don’t know, but someone said—and I think this makes sense ----- ”Jt’s the airplane that crashes that makes the news.” There are thousands of preachers out there preaching their hearts out. True to the Lord. True to the Gospel. No one ever hears of them. But they faithfully go on year after year. They are good men. Godly men.
God works in Strange Ways
WHILE GRAHAM WAS IN SCHOOL IN KOREA,
SHE HATED BEING AWAY FROM HER DEAR
FAMILY AND MISSED HER HOME, BUT THROUGH
THIS EXPERIENCE SHE HAS COME TO BELIEVE
THAT GOD HAS GOOD REASONS TO NOT ANSWER
When I first went to North Korea, I was one little homesick girl. I was thirteen, and it must have been 1,400 miles from home .I was so homesick I cried myself to sleep night after night after night, until they were having prayer meetings for me in the school.
We used to get stationery from Japan rolled like scrolls and decorated with cherry blossoms, and I wrote what must have been a twelve- or fifteen-foot letter home, begging to come home. I was convinced that if I would go home to learn from mother how to keep house and learn all the things that she could teach me, I would be much better prepared for life than if I went through high school.
They just made me stay on. I am so glad. Looking back, I am so grateful for those three years that I spent in Pyongyang. God has not always answered prayer the way I’ve asked, but in the long run I am glad He didn’t. What He did instead was so much better.
There are things today that I am still concerned and praying about that haven’t reached a final solution, but I know because in the past He has never failed, that He is not going to start failing now. My prayer is that I won’t fail him.
Copyright @ 1993. (Pgs. 191-199)
by: Guy Kawasaki
Beyond Words Publishing, Inc.
13950 NW Pumpkin Ridge Road,
Hillsboro, OR 97124
Church of the Science of God
La Jolla, California 92038-3131
© Church of the Science of GOD, 1993