FOR RUTH GRAHAM, WITH LOVE
No one who lived in the world as of the 50’s escaped Billy Graham’s spiritual influence. However, to those who knew the couple, much of Billy’s accomplishments are credited to his wife Ruth.
Even before I had a personal experience with Jesus, I knew Billy Graham by name as the world’s most important evangelical public man. Matter-of-factly, even before my father converted, around 1966, Billy was already in my imagination whenever he was mentioned at our home.
In 1973, when I met Jesus, my father gave me two books to read: “The Apostle of the Bleeding Feet”, on Sadhu Sundar Singh’s life, and “The Challenge – Sermons from Madison Square Garden”, by Billy Graham, a collection of sermons he had preached there. Then I read “World Aflame” and many other books by him. All more than simple. All evangelistic. All on the Cross and the Blood. All on Jesus only. Dozens of books that were simple and good for the heart. They reached millions of people worldwide.
My story with Billy is long, starting with my teenage admiration in Manaus (the capital of Amazonas), in the early 70’s, to this day. However, around the late 70’s and early 80’s I was personally determined to meet Billy. I wanted to talk to him and be closer, because to me and many, Billy was the best public example of integrity and seriousness in dealing with the matters of faith as it was those days.
First I met Leighton, his brother-in-law (married to Billy’s sister) and ministry coworker for over 35 years. Leighton is a good and friendly man. We made friends with each other, and we are still true friends. Leighton introduced me to Billy and, later on, Ann Graham, one of the couple’s daughters, who became a friend too.
From 1986 to 1994, my relationship with the Graham family was good and close. After I spent a very good and pleasant time with both in their home in Montreat, we were in touch more often, through letters or over the phone.
In 1988, when my family and I went to California to spend some time there, Mrs. Ruth called us up some times. Always loving, she wanted to know if I needed something. Billy wrote sometimes, but she was the one who got in touch more often, always expressing her and his love.
Mrs. Ruth was a woman of her day. Therefore, the many things that she didn’t assimilate should never be attributed to any hardness on her part. It was always owing to her Presbyterian upbringing as it was in the South of the U.S.A. at the beginning of the 20th century.
She, however, loved God dearly!
From now on, we’ll be witnessing the passing away of the noblest souls that have inhabited the faith world in the last decades. It saddens me to see that there are no “replacement parts”; on the contrary, everything is becoming poorer and more mediocre.
With gratitude to God for Ruth Graham’s life,
From the original “COM CARINHO POR RUTH GRAHAM”
Translated by F. R. Castelo Branco | June 2007