My Life With Billy Graham
- Friday, February 11, 2005
Follow the way of love – 1 Corinthians 14:1
By 1937, I had my future securely planned. I would never marry. I would spend the rest of my life as a missionary in Tibet. But on July 7 of that year, the Japanese attacked Chinese troops at the Marco Polo Bridge near Beijing, beginning the occupation of northern China.
And while my father prepared for war, my mother prepared me for college in the United States. I argued that all I needed was a utilitarian knowledge of Tibetan and the Bible. I certainly didn’t have to sail halfway around the world for that.
My parents simply smiled and put me on a boat to the United States.
I was not happy.
It was early fall in 1940 when William Franklin Graham arrived on campus via the Wheaton College Student Trucking Service, run by Johnny Streater.
Billy Frank was a 21-year-old North Carolinian, already an ordained Baptist minister, with clear blue eyes, standing six-foot-two….
On our first date we attended the school’s presentation of the Messiah. “Hallelujah.” I agonized over which of my two homemade dresses to wear.
After that first date, I knelt beside my bed and prayed, “God, if You let me serve You with that man, I’d consider it the greatest privilege of my life.”
Billy Frank became the most popular subject in my journals, my poetry, and my letters. But our relationship went nowhere.
I began 1941 by flunking Greek and ancient history. Finally…February 7, he invited me to go to church to hear him preach.
I was surprised. He spoke with such authority…and, at the same time, humility. The star, seen and admired from afar, became a human, personal thing – within reach.
We drove back to campus in his 1937 green Plymouth. I watched his profile as he guided us through the Chicago traffic and marked the glint in his eyes where the streetlights flashed past. I had felt the firmness of his hand beneath my arm as he guided me through the crowd at church. I was impressed by his unaffected thoughtfulness….
As he walked me to the door, he said, “There’s something I’d like you to make a matter of prayer. I have been taking you out because I am more than interested in you and have been since the day Johnny Streater introduced us last fall. But I know you have been called to the mission field, and I’m not definite.”
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