I recently heard Billy Graham’s grandson, Stephan Tchividjian, preach. He shared funny and inspirational stories about his grandfather, who he called “Daddy Bill”.
Billy Graham and his wife, Ruth, were married 63 years.
Ruth was an eternal optimist, while “Daddy Bill” was hopeful at heart, but could be a pessimist. At times he would complain about possible ailments he might have or that a thunderstorm might prevent anyone from attending his upcoming event.
One night at the dinner table when Daddy Bill uttered some of these complaints, Ruth looked at him and said, “Shut up and die like a Christian!” We all have moments when we need to be put in our place, and Ruth took care of that at the dinner table that night!
Stephan shared his grandfather’s words: “Without Ruth’s partnership and encouragement over the years, my own work would have been impossible. We were called as a team.”
When Stephan was twelve-years-old, he went to San Diego to shadow his grandfather on a crusade.
What left the greatest impression on Stephan was that Daddy Bill’s public and personal life were consistent. He was one of the most humble men Stephan ever knew. Whether he was speaking to a famous person or the waiter, he had genuine humility. After the crusade, Stephan joined the team of adults debriefing in the hotel room. Daddy Bill turned to his twelve-year-old grandson and actually asked him for feedback. Stephan was awe-struck that he asked for his opinion. That was the kind of person Billy Graham was. He was not interested in elevating himself, but listening to others, and lifting up Jesus.
Stephan shared that his grandfather knew his ministry was based on the Lord’s ability and not his own. He was very aware that he was not a perfect man and needed God’s grace. When Daddy Bill fell short, he chose humility over pride by asking for forgiveness. He was quick to say that we are all sinful and in need of the grace of Jesus.
Billy graham wasn’t moved by pressure, opinions, or status.
He was moved by the Lord Jesus Christ. His sole purpose and aim was that ever single person, all over the world, would know the love of Jesus.
During the early years of his crusades, segregation was the sad reality. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Had it not been for the ministry of my good friend Dr. Billy Graham, my work in the civil rights movement would not have been as successful as it has been.” Billy Graham boldly stood against segregation and refused to speak to segregated audiences.
During one crusade, Billy Graham asked the usher to take down the rope dividing black and white people in the seating area, but he refused. So, Billy Graham walked down from the stage and removed the ropes himself. That day, people of every color sat, stood, and cried together. They held hands and listened to the powerful message that all are equal in God’s eyes and deeply loved by him.
Another controversial topic brought up hundreds of times to Daddy Bill was why evil happens in the world. He responded with the words, “I don’t know.” He added: “I do know this, however: God knows what we are going through, and He still loves us and cares about us. In the midst of suffering and tragedy we can turn to Him for the comfort and help we need. Times like this will make us react in one of two ways: Either we will become bitter and angry–or we will realize our need of God and turn to Him in faith and trust, even if we don’t understand.”
Stephan followed up his grandfather’s quote by saying, “You can live in the ‘I don’t know’ and still follow Jesus.
Daddy Bill’s anchor verse was Philippians 1:6:
“Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” Daddy Bill preached that when he messed up and was broken, he could be confident that the Lord’s good work would be completed in Christ Jesus.
He always preached about the Gospel and the cross because that is the very place where Jesus opens our hearts and minds, takes our broken lives, and brings them back together again.
Stephan turned to the crowd and asked, “What are you struggling with? Ask the Lord to do his good work in you.” At the end of the sermon, Stephan said, “Many people ask who will be the next Billy Graham. I am sure that Daddy Bill would say the next Billy Graham is you.
You are to share the hope of Jesus to those around you. You don’t need all the answers to every theological question before you share the good news. People are just hungry to know the loving God who gives us hope and forgiveness through Jesus dying on the cross and rising again. Whatever stage of life you are in, wherever you are, you can be the person to offer hope to a person who desperately needs it.
You indeed could be the next “Billy Graham.”
Come visit me on my website, www.LinseyDriskill.com, and @BeautifulHeartedParenting.