The next generation
Virginia Leftwich “Gigi” Graham Foreman (b. 1945) married Swiss-Armenian Stephan Tchividjian at the tender age of 17. But life in Switzerland proved intolerable under her father-in-law’s domineering influence. They fled to America and had seven children. Gigi became depressed and began to write on scraps of paper between household tasks. Eventually she completed 10 books and developed an inspirational speaking and writing ministry. After she and Stephan divorced, she married and divorced a private investigator, and in 2012 wedded childhood friend Jim Wilson, son of her father’s constant companion T. W. Wilson.
Billy Graham called Anne Graham Lotz (b. 1948) “the best preacher in the family,” but she prefers the title “teacher” to reduce conflict with conservative-minded Christians. Anne married dentist Daniel Lotz at age 18 and had her first child at age 20. She soon felt she was drifting and sought an anchor through Bible Study Fellowship. Her success as a Bible teacher led her to found AnGeL Ministries. She has six honorary doctorates and 11 books and has taken her “Just Give Me Jesus” seminars to 12 countries and has spoken to hundreds of thousands.
Ruth “Bunny” Graham (b. 1950) said that her father gave her grace and she wants to give grace to others. After Bunny discovered her first husband had been unfaithful, she felt suicidal. By the time her third marriage was on the rocks, she founded Ruth Graham and Friends to help wounded Christians stop pretending they have it all together. In 2009, she married a fourth time to a former minister who was being tried for possession of child pornography. The next year, Ruth Graham was ordained as a Baptist minister, and her husband was among those who laid hands on her.
The teenage William Franklin Graham III (b. 1952) gave his parents plenty to worry about: long hair, bad grades, tobacco, alcohol, large loud motorcycles, and late hours. He resisted a call to preach, but took readily to relief work. Mentored by Samaritan’s Purse (SP) founder, Bob Pierce, Franklin became SP president in 1979. In 1989 he added BGEA events to his SP responsibilities, and by 1995 Billy Graham recommended that Franklin succeed him. Franklin’s hard-edged style is often contrasted with his father’s more gentle ways. As Franklin told Newsweek, “We preach the same gospel, but Daddy hates to say no, and I can say no.”
Big sister Anne says Nelson Edman “Ned” Graham (b. 1958) was Ruth Graham’s favorite child. Ned has continued the family focus on Chinese missions as president of East Gates International. East Gates works with existing structures to meet the needs of Chinese Christians. Ned tried to honor his mother’s wishes to be buried near their Montreat home, but Franklin won his father’s approval for her burial at the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte. Ned has been married twice, spent time in rehab for substance abuse, and says he suffered from demonic oppression. He told Charisma magazine that he experienced deliverance after “inner healing” prayer and that God gave him a new “prayer language.”
By the editors
[Christian History originally published this article in Christian History Issue #111 in 2014]
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