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When Sally met Billy Graham

Posted on April 12th, 2018.

In 1960, when Billy Graham held his first crusade in Kenya, my younger brother, Mike and I were attending Rift Valley Academy at Kijabi, Kenya. Rift Valley Academy is a boarding school for American missionary children. Mike was in 4th grade and I was a junior in high school.

For many missionary families, boarding school was the best alternative for their children. Mike and I were separated from Mom and Dad four months at a time. There were distinct advantages to being educated with an American educational curriculum as well as having the socialization amongst one’s peers. However, the adjustment of being separated from home and the daily love of one’s parents was a difficult adjustment. We missed Mom and Dad and it was not unusual to be sick with the awful malady of homesickness.

One morning in chapel we were told that Billy Graham and his whole team were coming to visit us that afternoon. To think that someone this important and from our beloved USA was coming to visit was more than exciting!

It was about 3PM when Billy stood to speak. He did not preach. He told us about his children. He told us about his wife, Ruth, who had been born and raised in China, where her parents were missionaries. She also had been separated from her parents while attending a boarding school. Suddenly, there was not a child who wasn’t intently listening. We knew this was someone who understood us. He related personal things about his family and how his long separations were difficult for his kids and his wife, Ruth. He related how lonely it was and how his son Franklin, who was in third grade, was having trouble in school because he missed his daddy so much.

Billy ended his talk by explaining to us how God understood that these circumstances were difficult. He reassured us that God was taking note and that treasures were being laid up in Heaven. Billy prayed for us and then he came down among all of us kids. He talked one-on-one with us, along with his whole team, for at least an hour.

The day I heard the news that Billy was in Heaven, I immediately remembered the day Billy Graham took time to be with us at RVA. When I got home from work that evening I rummaged through an old steamer trunk and found the first Bible I was given in 1956. Inside is Billy’s signature with this Scripture reference:

“Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you, will perform it until theimg012 day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:6 KJV

I’m forever grateful that his prayer for me as a 15 year old MK took root in my heart. I’m just one of millions that Billy Graham touched with the message of the Cross.


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