Billy and Ruth Graham on their son, Franklin

July 14, 2023

Franklin Graham with parents, Ruth and Billy Graham (China, 1988)

In honor of Franklin Graham’s birthday, today we are sharing words written by Billy and Ruth Graham for the afterword of Franklin’s autobiography, Rebel With a Cause. The endearing sentiments shared by his parents, shows their love and constant prayers helped shaped the leader Franklin would become.

Watching Franklin grow up has been an experience. Nothing like being fascinated with your own son’s life. A lot of what is contained in this book we had never heard before!

However, under all this rebel reminiscing, this book fails to tell you of the tender side of the little boy growing up . . .

The times after Ned was born when Franklin, then six years old, would go back to his mother’s room, cowboy boots clomping, jeans at half-mast, carrying a sloshing glass of milk grasped in two grimy hands, “So,” as he said to his mother with happy concern, “you will have plenty of milk.”

Or the time, looking outside the upstairs window, we saw him struggling up the steep slope of a mountain, carrying on his back a little Ned whose legs had given out.

Or the time when “the rebel’s,” older sister, Bunny, was miserably homesick in the (then existing) Stony Brook School for Girls, and he used his own meager allowance to buy candy to take to her.

When Franklin and his buddy, Bill Cristobal, headed for England to pick up the Land Rover to drive to Jordan, Ruth got out her Bible to read John 17 as her prayer for the two boys, and was stopped short at verse nineteen, where she read, “for their sakes, I sanctify myself.” If for our sakes the Lord Jesus felt the need to sanctify (dedicate or consecrate) Himself to His Father, how much more did she need to?

She put Franklin and Bill “on hold” and set about getting everything straightened out between herself and God.

How often we parents need to do just that.

We understood how difficult it must have been to have a well-known dad, yet we knew the rebellion was not against us personally. The girls would marry and take other names. The boys were stuck with Graham.

The fact that, while we knew that he smoked, he would never smoke around us, revealed this innate respect. Instead, at home, he would smoke in his room, blowing the smoke out the window, unaware the updraft from the valley carried the telltale smell of a cigarette right back to our bedroom window.

And Franklin was surrounded by people who really cared about him just like he was.

In short, Franklin didn’t have a chance. He had been given to God before his birth, and God has kept His hand on him without letting up all these years.

Franklin once told a group, “If my mom has white hair, it’s because of me!” To which she replied, “Don’t take all the credit, son. Age has something to do with it.”

And with age has come the ever-growing, ever-deepening awareness of the relevance and the assurance of God’s promises. Not once has He failed.

When folks say, “You must be proud of Franklin,” we realize that it is not a matter of pride, but of gratitude to God for His faithfulness.

With God, nobody’s hopeless.

Billy and Ruth Graham, Afterword from Rebel With a Cause
Billy Graham and Franklin Graham
Ruth Graham and Franklin Graham

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