“A Foreign Devil in China” written by John Pollock informs us well of Ruth Bell’s early years. Her parents were Presbyterian missionaries serving in China. Ruth was born at home at the mission station. While her sister Rosa had a real interest in music and especially piano, Ruth loved painting and showed a real interest in art.
As she grew up, Ruth and her brother and sisters had the opportunity to observe their parent’s love for and interaction with the Chinese people. As a result, Ruth developed a love for China and decided early in life that she wanted to be a missionary as well. Unbeknownst to her, God was already preparing her for what lay ahead, not as a missionary, but in loving support of her future husband’s ministry.
Ruth’s education began right at home. She attended high school in what is now North Korea at a missionary boarding school and graduated from Wheaton College, where she met and later married Billy Graham.
Ruth travelled when possible to many of Billy’s ministry outreaches domestically and around the world. Growing up and receiving her early education in another culture, coupled with her international experiences, prepared her well to assist Billy with ministry opportunities that took him around the world. Billy admitted many times his dependence on Ruth to help him understand and relate to international audiences, especially those in Asia.
In thanking those who assisted him in writing his book Just As I Am, Billy writes “—most of all, without my wife Ruth, there would have been no autobiography to write, for she has been vital to my life and an integral part of our ministry.” He also said Ruth had the greatest influence on his ministry when it came to spiritual things.
In 1984 Ruth was the recipient of the Christian Woman of the Year award displayed at the Billy Graham Library, which in part reads “a vessel set apart for honorable and useful purposes.” This is just one of the many honors and awards she received during her lifetime. She was indeed an exceptional woman who honored the Lord in every part of her life.
Ruth Graham went to be with the Lord June 14, 2007. We miss her tremendously.