When Ruth Bell arrived at Wheaton College, she caused quite a stir among the young men there with her fresh-faced beauty. She had a couple of suitors vie for her attention before she met Billy Graham through their mutual friend, Johnny Streater, in November 1940.
Even after meeting, it was several weeks before Billy worked up the courage to ask Ruth on a date. One day in the school’s library, Billy saw Ruth sitting alone at a table. Egged on by his friends, Billy crossed the silent room and asked her to accompany him to the school’s production of Handel’s Messiah. Following their first date, Ruth returned to her room and prayed, “God, if You let me serve You with that man I’d consider it the greatest privilege in my life.”
However, as is sometimes common when two young people like each other, Billy and Ruth ignored each other for the next month. Their second date didn’t occur until six weeks later when Ruth asked Billy to a house party. On their third date a week later, Billy told Ruth, “There’s something I’d like you to make a matter of definite prayer. I have been taking you out because I am more than interested in you and have been since the day Johnny Streater introduced us last fall. But I know you have been called to the mission field and I’m not definite.”
In June 1941, Billy asked Ruth to marry him before leaving to Florida to hold youth revival services. Ruth struggled with what to decide. She loved Billy but still felt that God was calling her to be a missionary in Tibet. After much prayer, she sent a letter to Billy in Florida, telling him she’d marry him. That night, Billy was so excited, he couldn’t remember what he preached.
Two years later, on a moonlit evening on August 13, 1943, Ruth walked down the aisle in a dress she made herself to meet her groom in front of their family and friends. The couple honeymooned in Blowing Rock before driving back to Illinois, where Billy had accepted pastorship at a church. Little did they know the plans God had for them as they took this first leap of faith.