Ruth Bell Graham was a wonderful example of the legacy that a godly woman can have as she serves her family in the sphere where God has placed her.
Ruth was born in China to missionary parents. She came to Christ at a young age and was full of zeal to reach the lost. Could Ruth’s mother have imagined the plans God had for her daughter? Ruth believed she would never marry and would stay in China as a missionary. Instead, the Lord led her to marry Billy Graham, who would become the greatest evangelist of the 20th century.
Ruth’s life was not an easy one. Billy’s work as an evangelist took him to all corners of the earth. Ruth faithfully served at home, out of the spotlight, raising their five children. Often Billy would be gone for weeks or months on end. Many wives in Ruth’s circumstance might have become bitter. But Ruth always seemed to think of Billy, how she might bless him and minister to him. She was not consumed with getting her husband to serve her needs. She was passionate about ministering to him as he served others.
Ruth faithfully prayed for her children, and loved them unconditionally. Two of the five Graham children were prodigals in their youth. Franklin Graham, who is now president of Samaritan’s Purse and a worldwide evangelist in his own right, credits his parents love with bringing him back to the Lord. Every one of the Graham’s five children is walking with the Lord and serving in public ministry today. Franklin’s son Will follows in his father’s and grandfather’s’ footsteps as he preaches the Gospel at crusades around the world.
At her funeral, Ruth’s daughter said these words: “I don’t believe Mother has adequately been recognized and honored for what she had done because, without her, Daddy’s ministry would not have been possible. How does one live with one of the world’s most famous men?
“God began training my mother for this position years ago in China. Her parents exercised a profound effect upon the development of her character, and laid the foundations for who she was. What she witnessed in her family home, she practiced for herself–dependence on God in every circumstance, love for His Word, concern for others above self, and an indomitable spirit displayed with a smile.”
I wish I knew more about Ruth’s own mother. Did she live to see the fruit of her own faithfulness to the Lord as it was revealed in the character and life of her daughter, and ultimately in her grandchildren and great grandchildren? Both Ruth and her mother spent their lives serving their families, and we see in their legacy a testimony of multi-generational faithfulness.
“Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her. ‘Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.’ Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Give her the reward she has earned and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.” Proverbs 31: 28-31