from the Billy Graham Library

Ruth 100: Ruth Graham as Billy Graham’s Wife and Support

February 10, 2020

When Billy Graham first saw Ruth Bell, it was love at first sight. He instantly knew she was the one he was going to marry. For Ruth, the idea would take much prayer (and persuasion from Billy) to convince her to change her plans of becoming a missionary in Tibet, a path very different from Billy’s plan to become an evangelist. However, after realizing God’s plan was indeed for her to come alongside this fiery young preacher as his wife and support, Ruth happily married Billy in front of their friends and family on a moonlit August evening in 1943.

A wooden box labeled with Ruth’s handwriting, “Bill’s and my old wedding gift cards”

Over the years, Ruth was Billy’s sounding board for sermons, the editor for his writing, and his conscience when offered lofty positions she felt were outside of God’s will. When Billy was encouraged to run for President of the United States, Ruth cautioned him, “When God calls you to be an evangelist, you don’t stoop to be president.”

While Billy was away on travels, the couple stayed in touch through letters. Billy relates in his autobiography Just As I Am that, “Letters to Ruth were my safety valve. In the intimacy of our partnership in the ministry, as well as our mutual love and respect, I could express myself to her as to few others.”

Billy certainly loved and esteemed Ruth. This admiration is evident in the Valentine cards Billy gave to Ruth over the years. One card states, “My love grows deeper each Valentine and this year I love you so much I can hardly stand it …. Yours Forever, Bill.”

A signed Valentine’s Day card Billy gave to Ruth in 1970.
Billy signed this Valentine’s Day card to Ruth, “My love grows deeper each Valentine and this year I love you so much I can hardly stand it… Yours Forever, Bill”

Ruth’s significant role as Billy’s wife and support was recognized by his team. Billy’s long-time assistant T.W. Wilson said, “There would have been no Billy Graham as we know him today had it not been for Ruth.” Indeed, there couldn’t have been the Billy Graham the world knew without the love and support of Ruth. Her answer to God’s call to be his wife helped make him the man he became, and untold numbers of lives were changed through her efforts within his ministry.

Read more about Ruth Bell Graham.

Leave a Comment

  1. I remember being in my 20’s and being told that Billy Graham would not be alone in a room with a woman only if other people were around. What I thought was what amazing love that he has for his wife and family. Then the more I thought about this through the years it spoke to me even more. He was truly a man of God and both Billy and Ruth spoke volumes of how a married couple should live and love each other. This had me wanting to know more about their marriage and about each of them as a person. What I learned was how much they loved the Lord. They lived what they believed in, not only when all eyes there watching them. Thank you Franklin for sharing how your parents were and how your life is.

  2. Harold Zimmer

    I’m so appreciative to have been blessed to have worked with the Billy Graham crusade in Cincinnati, Oh many years ago. To see the individuals come forward to accept Christ was a moving experience seeing first hand how God used Dr. Graham in such a powerful way. As a Christian we never know how God will use us but I’m grateful to have participated in this crusade, I’ve been blessed to serve along side with God’s servants and to have had the opportunity to meet God’s chosen servant.

  3. Ellinda White

    I was just a small child when Rev. Billy Graham preached to crowds in the arena, it was greatly important to learn a few years ago that everyone outside the arenas were able to see him and hear him, I was brought up in a Christian home by Loving grandparents, I was taught in church that Jesus loves me, but, I truly didn’t believe it till I heard Billy Graham teach it, even in our small living room you could feel the presence of the Holy Spirit, I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior and Jesus is truly the Son of God, my life has been forever changed, Thankful to GOD who puts the right teachers where they are needed at. GOD BLESS ✝️?????

  4. Janice M Jordan

    Billy Graham is someone I so admire because he lived exactly as he preached. And his wife Ruth was such a lovely woman who helped him become who he was.

  5. Mary Skinner

    What a great and Godly Christian couple ! They have been an inspiration for me through the years because of their love for the Lord! I thank God he shared them with us ! May God Bless all of the Graham family!