Friday, June 15, 2007

Tribute to Ruth Graham (1920-2007)

It's difficult to put into words a fitting tribute to Ruth Graham.

Much has been said already about this wonderful woman of God who faithfully followed God's call on her heart to support, encourage and provide much of the vision for the extraordinary ministry of Rev. Billy Graham.

For six decades, Ruth Graham has been not only the wife and mother of his children but also the best friend to her world acclaimed evangelist husband, the Rev. Billy Graham.

I can only imagine the pain and the sense of loss for Billy Graham to announce this past week that his “soul mate” was nearing death. The family was able to all gather together at her bed side and share the last moments together, this side of glory.

"Ruth is with Jesus" is one of the headlines that I read from a secular newspaper as I looked for inspiration in trying to write this tribute. The comment "Ruth is with Jesus" caught my eye and I couldn't help but smile as I thought of the tremendous impact that she and her husband have had on the people of this country and around the world in sharing the love of Jesus Christ and the power of the Cross, since their marriage in Montreat, North Carolina in 1943.

It's so amazing to see Montreat again as the location for the public memorial service scheduled for 2 p.m. this Saturday at the Montreat Conference Center. The Graham family certainly knows how to put down roots and while I never had the priviledge of meeting Mrs. Graham, I'm still in awe of how well she was able to keep her family together!

One of the books on my library is "Just as I am" the autobiography of Billy Graham. Being in Christian ministry, I suppose it's seems like a cliché for me to say that Billy Graham is one of my heroes. It would be like one of the GOP presidential candidates saying that he liked Ronald Reagan. At the same time, it's hard to find anyone quite like Billy Graham, or anyone quite as supportive and loving as his beloved wife, Ruth.

In this autobiography, Billy Graham included a chapter entitled, "A Half-Century of Friends". In it Billy Graham recalls that over the (then) fifty years of his ministry, most of the time he and his wife Ruth were not ministring to "famous" people. While they were most known for their friendship with presidents, prime ministers, kings and queens, Billy said that 98 percent of the people that they ministrered to were not the "rich and famous". Instead, they were those who they shared what Billy Graham called the "central theme of the Christian Faith: God's forgiveness in Christ is available to all no matter who we are or what we have done."

I thank God for Ruth Graham. God thank you for giving her to Billy, allowing her to be his partner, his wife and his "soul-mate". May God give us even a portion of the grace that she has.

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