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Honoring A Godly Woman
by James Robison


Ruth Bell Graham (1920-2007)

The passing of Ruth Bell Graham, wife of my longtime friend Billy Graham, has deeply moved us all. I am blessed to be able to recount personal memories of this wonderful woman from those nearest and dearest.

Perhaps one of the most emotional moments came in a prayer meeting with Dr. Graham. Attendees included Dr. Adrian Rogers of Belleview Baptist Church, Dr. Charles Stanley, Bill Bright and other Christian leaders. Billy asked, "Do you men feel holy? I don't really feel holy." (Can you imagine the most famous, humble preacher of all times saying he didn't feel holy!) He went on to say, "I think my wife is holy. She is perhaps the holiest person I've ever known. I think her parents, missionaries to China, were holy. But I don't feel holy."

I remember both Adrian Rogers and Charles Stanley commenting something along the line of, "Well, if you're not holy, what about the rest of us?" Together we all lowered our heads to the table and prayed, "God help us to be more like Jesus Christ."

On LIFE Today, I have interviewed Billy and Ruth's daughters, Anne Graham Lotz and Ruth Graham, whom we always called "Bunny." Just as Dr. and Mrs. Graham poured into my life as a young minister, I am honored to be able to help Ruth minister to people who face some of life's greatest challenges. When the subject of their famous father came up, both of these wonderful women commented, "We are not only Billy Graham's daughter; we are Ruth Graham's daughter, as well." They emphasized the impact of their mother's consistent Christian life and commitment to her family and ministry.

Anne recounts, on the online memorial for her mother, "I would go down to her room late at night. I would see the light on underneath the door and I'd go in, and she would be on her knees in prayer."

Everyone who knew Ruth Graham was inspired by her devotion as a mother and a wife. Having conducted over 600 citywide crusades myself, I can assure you that it is absolutely impossible to accomplish an effective ministry without the encouragement, support and strength of a steadfast wife. I am convinced that people often listen to what I say because they respect Betty and they are always anxious to hear what she shares. This was true of Ruth Graham. Billy could not have achieved such great accomplishments without her faithful support, not only in prayer, but in the devotion their relationship clearly revealed.

Billy Graham encouraged me from the time I was 19 years old. He suggested founding a non-profit organization and, in many ways, enabled it to happen. He is also the one who heard in prayer that I needed to be on television on a weekly or daily basis, whereas he did not. I was skeptical about talking to a camera, but he was right. As I prayed, I came to understand that he had in fact heard clearly from the Lord. The television ministry and mission outreach that we've enjoyed was in so many ways inspired by Billy Graham. Like his sweet wife, he was truly an "others" person. They care more about others than themselves - a true characteristic of Christ. Ruth was a woman of prayer who sought to hear the Lord, be full of His Word, and demonstration it in daily life.

"We may be Billy Graham's daughters," Ruth and Anne both commented, "but the fact is, we are truly moved, marked and inspired by our mother."

The fruit of her life will continue to blossom for the many years, not only through her children, but through all the people their family have and will continue to influence. To God be the glory for the wonderful example of Christ set by Ruth Bell Graham. In the truest sense of the word, just as Billy said, "Ruth was a holy woman."


Publishing Information

Author: James Robison

Word Count: 656

About the author: James Robison is the founder and president of LIFE Outreach International, an international humanitarian aid ministry; host of the television program, Life Today; and author of The Absolutes: Freedom's Only Hope.

Media Contact: Randy Robison, editor at