At the Grave…God Opens Doors

November 13, 2021

Categories: Billy Graham

Ruthie and Bob Cooper are BG-RRT Chaplains and volunteer at the gravesite at the Billy Graham Library three Fridays a month.

Bob and Ruthie Cooper, from Columbia, South Carolina, have been volunteering with the Rapid Response Team (BG-RRT) since 2014. One of their favorite places of ministry is at the Billy Graham gravesite at the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, North Carolina. “We hear some incredible, heart-wrenching things down here. There have been many people, especially elderly people, who know of Mr. Graham or went to a crusade or they watched it on TV and this is their dying wish to come and visit the grave,” said Ruthie.

If you’ve never been to the Billy Graham Library, off to the side, a picturesque path leads you to the gravesite of Billy and Ruth Graham. Many take time to pray there, some pay their respects, while others are curious. BG-RRT Chaplains have been in place at the gravesite since Mr. Graham passed in 2018.

“So often when our chaplains deploy in times of crisis to natural or man-made disasters, we find that people are dealing with their own storms of life. We felt it was important to have chaplains providing an ongoing ministry of presence at Dr. Graham’s gravesite. This would allow them the opportunity to pray with people who may be going through their own personal crisis in everyday life. Our chaplains are blessed by the opportunity to minister and pray with people who come to pay their respects to Dr. Graham,” said Josh Holland, assistant director of the BG-RRT.

BG-RRT Chaplains began serving at the gravesite after Billy Graham passed away in 2018.

It’s a pilgrimage and the Coopers have seen people travel from as far away as Kenya and Korea just to visit the Grahams’ gravesite. Throughout the years, they have witnessed the Holy Spirit move at the gravesite every time they are there to volunteer.  “It is not Ruthie and Bob Cooper at all. It is God…we are here to be witnesses to what God is doing – that means listening, loving, and often praying with people,” said Ruthie. The Coopers remarked how amazing it is to see how God uses them to reach people hurting. “God just opens the door. And He does that over and over and over again!” Ruthie exclaimed.

God Opened a Door…

Last spring, riots raged in the Minneapolis area. In order to get to school, one woman had to cut through a parking lot. In that parking lot, every day, she would see this massive vehicle. “She kept seeing the Billy Graham ministry on the outside of the vehicle, but she had no idea who Billy Graham was.” Ruthie shared. It was the Rapid Response Team vehicle that was stationed in Minneapolis during that time of crisis. Day after day, this woman saw people open the door and go in and out of the vehicle and wondered what was happening. She and her husband researched it and they ended up coming to Charlotte for vacation. They needed to see what the Billy Graham Library was all about and who was Billy Graham. Bob and Ruthie Cooper were the chaplains on duty that day at the gravesite. It was the end of the day and they were almost ready to go home – when they saw the young couple approach. Ruthie, a retired school teacher, immediately connected with the woman who was also a teacher.  “She was in tears. Nobody had explained to her the connection and we were able to share the connection and the hope that we have in Jesus Christ,” Ruthie said. The couple re-dedicated their lives to Christ that afternoon.

Billy Graham RRT Chaplains pray before their day in ministry in Minneapolis during the riots.

At the Grave

“God do your thing. Bring your people who need you to be loved and to see the hope of Jesus Christ.”  The Coopers’ prayer every time they volunteer at the gravesite is for God to make them available. Ruthie admits, it hasn’t always been easy to share her faith, but she’s been in awe of how God has used her own personal experiences, and even tragedy, to reach others. Two years ago, the couple’s 36 year old daughter, Kimberly, passed away from a drug overdose. The pain of losing their only child was unfathomable.

Ruthie and Bob Cooper’s daughter, Kimberly, passed away in 2019. Her parents shared their daughter always smiled and always wore pearls.

But after a time of grief, they knew they needed to move forward and continue in ministry. They did not want the enemy to steal their joy and purpose. They went back to volunteering at the gravesite – and there – God opened another door.  A couple stopped by and opened up about their son passing away from a drug overdose. The Coopers knew just what the couple was going through and they knew the Lord was at work.  In the midst of tragedy, God was blessing and encouraging them. “We are here to be witnesses to what God is doing – that means listening, loving, and often praying with people and He always seems to connect us to the right people,” Ruthie explained.

The Coopers know the only hope they have is in Jesus Christ, and as BG-RRT chaplains, they want to share that hope. They would encourage you to come to the Library and especially the gravesite. The Holy Spirit is speaking and drawing people there in incredible ways.

Many have come to know Christ at the gravesite of Billy Graham. Many people come to Charlotte because they want to visit here.

Learn more about the Billy Graham Library here






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