Billy Graham and Ruth Bell Graham

Billy and Ruth Graham

Evangelism Endowed Scholarship

Born November 7, 1918, Mr. Graham was reared on a dairy farm in Charlotte, North Carolina. In the fall of 1934, at age 16, Mr. Graham made a personal commitment to Christ through the ministry of Mordecai Ham, a traveling evangelist, who visited Charlotte for a series of revival meetings.

Ordained in 1939 by a church in the Southern Baptist Convention, Mr. Graham received a solid foundation in the Scriptures at Florida Bible Institute (now Trinity College in Florida). In 1943 he graduated from Wheaton College in Illinois and married fellow student Ruth McCue Bell.

After graduating from college, Mr. Graham pastored the First Baptist Church in Western Springs, Illinois, before joining Youth for Christ, an organization founded for ministry to youth and servicemen during World War II. He preached throughout the United States and in Europe in the immediate post war era, emerging as a rising young evangelist.

Mr. Graham once said: "My one purpose in life is to help people find a personal relationship with God, which, I believe, comes through knowing Christ." Billy Graham took Christ literally when He said in Mark 16:15, "Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature."

Mr. Graham has preached the Gospel to more people in live audiences than anyone else in history: nearly 215 million people in more than 185 countries and territories, through various meetings, including Mission World and Global Mission. Hundreds of millions more have been reached through his evangelistic television, video, film, and webcasts.

Ruth Bell Graham was born in China as Ruth McCue Bell. Her parents were medical missionaries at a small hospital compound 300 miles north of Shanghai. Ruth first sensed the great calling to abandon all for the sake of the Gospel of Jesus Christ as a young girl in the compound. Her childhood was spent on China's mission field with her parents and siblings, surrounded by disease, despair, and the eventual disorder and chaos of civil wars. The suffering she observed only strengthened in her the conviction of people's need for the Savior. Until her early adult years, she dreamed of serving as a single missionary in a far corner of the world - the mountainous nation of Tibet.

In the fall of 1937, she enrolled at Wheaton College, outside Chicago, Illinois, and three years later was introduced to Billy Graham. Shortly after their graduation from Wheaton, the two were married in Montreat, NC, on August 13, 1943.

After the Grahams moved to Montreat, NC, she built the family homestead and raised five children. Ruth treasured her role as the strong woman behind "America's Pastor" and was Billy's closest confidant, most trusted advisor, and dearest friend. She loved to move behind the scenes, away from the spotlight, and helped him craft and research for sermons and even books.

A gifted poet and writer herself, Ruth authored or coauthored 14 books, including Sitting by My Laughing Fire, Legacy of a Pack Rat, Prodigals and Those Who Love Them, and One Wintry Night.*

*Taken from biographies of Billy Graham and Ruth Bell Graham on October 19, 2007.

Application: Evangelism Endowed Scholarship.