Billy Graham’s grandson, Will Graham, and daughter, Gigi Graham, give a behind-the-scenes biopic on the everyday humanity of two spiritual giants of the twentieth century – Billy and Ruth Graham. Don’t miss a single episode of Dinner Conversations – subscribe below!


TRANSCRIPT FROM THE SHOW

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Mark: I was performing at The Cove a while back and at lunch Will Graham, Billy Graham’s grandson, came to eat with me, and I was wondering, well, I wonder what he’s gonna be like? And I’d heard my mother say she taught him at Liberty, and she adored him. And he sat down at the table and started talking. I mean, I didn’t have to hardly ask a question. He was off telling the most incredible stories about his grandparents, Billy Graham and Ruth Graham. And on today’s episode, he is going to be telling us all the secrets of Billy Graham. No actually, he really is.

Andrew: Yeah.

Mark: But they’re not bad. They humanize him, and I asked him when I heard these stories at The Cove, I said please come on Dinner Conversations and share with people like me who think your grandfather was the fourth in the godhead.

Andrew: Sure, yeah.

Mark: To realize he’s a freak just like the rest of us and that we all need a Savior, and Billy Graham was always pointing to Jesus, but our tendency is to fall in love with the messenger instead of the message.

Andrew: Yeah, we tend to idolize, and I love how Will dispels that. He loves talking about the human nature–

Mark: And he loved his grandparents.

Andrew: Yes, completely respectful. And then we got the double honor of getting to have Billy and Ruth’s oldest daughter Gigi Graham–

Mark: Not oldest, the daughter they loved the longest.

Andrew: Don’t you love that?

Mark: That’s how she says it.

Andrew: I know, and she is spunky, and y’all’s conversation as a part of this bigger conversation in Billy and Ruth’s first home in Montreat, North Carolina.

Mark: That no one gets to go inside of.

Andrew: That’s right. We are on the road, and we are hitting it in some great conversations with Will Graham and Gigi Graham.

Mark: And there’s one seat left at the table, and it’s yours! Let’s join the conversation.


Mark: Now what grandchild are you? What number are you?

Will: I think I’m about dead center. There’s 19 of us.

Mark: OK.

Will: So there’s half of ’em in front of me and half of ’em behind me.

Mark: And last time I was there at The Cove, the only time I’ve been to The Cove. Well, I think. Anyway, I enjoyed it. First time as a solo artist.

Will: I say I think the Gaithers, yeah.

Mark: But the best part of that weekend was lunch with you, and I’ve told everybody that. ‘Cause I didn’t know what to expect, you know? I’d seen your father. I’d seen…

Andrew: Franklin?

Mark: Frank, but the sister Anne.

Will: Anne?

Mark: And you know, and they’re very, you know, I mean they’re very–

Andrew: Formal?

Mark: Yeah, I don’t know, dignified, yeah. And then you sit down at the table and open up about my mother teaching you, which immediately we connected there ’cause I love my mother and you obviously did and she liked you a lot.

Will: She loved me a lot.

Mark: But didn’t like your wife, you said.

Will: Girlfriend at the time, but didn’t like her. But my wife Kendra didn’t. She skipped half her classes, so she didn’t deserve to be loved, that’s for sure.

Andrew: I like that. Coming from the pastor, didn’t deserve to be loved.

Mark: The thing that I remember most and I love so much is you started telling stories about your wonderful grandmother and your wonderful grandfather, and I got to meet your grandmother once when I was performing here, and she invited me up for a Coke float on April Fool’s Day, and it took ’em a long time to convince me that it wasn’t a joke because it was April 1st and, you know. Well, I went up and had a wonderful time with her. I remember at that time wanting, asking everybody I knew. Every evangelist. And so I had to ask her. I was going through this whole thing. I don’t know if you’ve ever been through it, but the whole question of could Jesus have sinned? Not did he, but could he have? And of course Beverly, my mom, said, “It’d be like Satan tempting me, Mark, with a beer. He’s tempting me, but I’m not tempted.” And I thought, well, what good is that?

Andrew: It’s not temptation.

Mark: Who needs that?

Andrew: Yeah, yeah.

Mark: Grace for something you’re not even tempted with? And your mother said, “Well, I think so. I think he…” You know and I’ve come to the conclusion that obviously he could’ve sinned, or you know, what is this?

Andrew: But that he chose not to sin.

Mark: That he just didn’t. Yeah, he chose not to–

Andrew: Therefore, he could identify with us.

Mark: Right, right.

Andrew: An example.

Mark: So it was a wonderful experience, but then you started telling me stories that I’m so glad you shared with me about your grandfather and that he was as human as the rest of us. And he wasn’t, you know, he didn’t mess up like all those preachers do, but he was a hypochondriac. It was thrilling to me to learn.

Andrew: That he had flaws?

Mark: Yes!

Will: He was a… Let’s just say he kept Mayo Clinic in business. He, I don’t know. My grandmother and him were exact opposite in this. My grandmother being on the mission field, she knew what hard life was, and she never complained. And she really had a lot of pain. She had a deteriorating back problem, and where late in life, she always had to have morphine patches to help take care of the pain. She was always in pain, and I would see her from time to time wince, and then she would just go on–

Andrew: That was the extent of–

Will: Yeah, and you knew she was in pain, but she’s sitting there. And she’ll sit there and talk, and no matter how much pain she’s in, she wouldn’t let you know. And the one thing that helped my grandmother was that on her wall in her bedroom, she had a whole bunch of pictures of family, but in the middle of it was a crown of Jerusalem thorns, and my grandmother said she would never complain because if her God could go through that, point to the crown, then she’s got nothing to whine about.

Mark: And did Billy ever hear her say this?

Will: Yeah, oh yeah, but he made up for it. So he was the one–

Andrew: Closed the gap.

Will: Yeah, closed the averages.

Mark: Did anyone ever say, you know, you might be a hypochondriac?

Will: No, well, I’m not sure if we ever used that term, but you know my grandmother she would always correct him. She would kind of rebuke him, you know, “Billy, just stop complaining.” And you’ve heard the story before, you know, die like a Christian. You know, in other words, don’t–

Mark: Shut up and die like a Christian.

Will: You know, everyone’s gonna die one day–

Mark: Tell that story. That’s one of my favorite stories you told.

Will: Well, I’m not sure if I know all the details. You may have to ask my Aunt Gigi.

Mark: OK, we’ll get out–

Will: To get the truth.

Mark: OK, all right. Yeah, ’cause she already said you’re gonna be lying.

Andrew: You’ll have the side B of that story. Gigi, we’ll come back.

Will: So David Bruce is my granddad’s assistant. One of the most loyal men you’ll ever meet, one of the greatest men you’ll ever meet, and he’s a tremendous pastor. But he’s been my granddaddy’s right hand man, been his personal assistant, and taking care of his finances, everything for my granddaddy. One of the most well-liked people, and he’s got the toughest job ’cause he answers to my granddaddy, answers to my dad, and then all the other siblings as well and all the grandkids. He gets shot from all directions.

Mark: Oh my.

Will: So he’s got one of the toughest jobs, but he does it with a smile on his face, and we all love him, and he really did have one of the toughest jobs. But, so he used to set up my granddad’s crusades, and David Bruce was with my granddaddy one day, and I think they had gone for a swim or something like that. My granddaddy, he said, “I wanna go for a swim. Can’t I go for a swim?” We’re like, well, yeah, OK. We’ll take you for a swim. So he’d go down to the hotel swim and went back, and they were going in and said, “David, I need you to make a phone call to Ruth.” And David’s like, “Yes, sir.” You know, “Yes, boss. Right away, sir.” He’s getting the phone, and, “What do you want me to tell her?” And so he’s starting to dial the phone number, and he says, “Tell her I’m dying.” And he hangs up the phone real quick. “What do you mean you’re dying?” You know, “Do I need to call 911?” “No, call Ruth. Tell her I’m dying. Call her, right now.” You know, he’s in this tough place, like seriously, I don’t call 911? And he–

Andrew: I need to take care of you.

Will: Yeah. So he’s calling, looking at him. “No, call her right now.” OK. So he gets on the phone, and she answers the phone, “Hello?” And he goes, “Mrs. Graham, this is David.” “Oh hey, David. How’s things going?” “Well, I think things are OK.” And my granddaddy’s like, you know motioning like tell her, and he’s like, “Dr. Graham wants me to give you a message.” “OK, what’s that?” You know, and granddaddy’s like tell her. “He says he’s dying,” and she just breaks out in total laughter. “He’s been saying that for the last 30 years. “Tell him to hurry up.” You know, I mean she would always put things in perspective. Yeah, so she was the one that kept my granddaddy straight and level.

Mark: Did he ever like, “No, I’m serious!” Made it–

Will: Well, probably the day he died, he probably said that. “Told you I was sick. I was sick.”

Mark: “Told you I was sick.”

Will: But he, you know, the funny thing is he outlived everybody.

Andrew: Yeah.

Mark: Oh wow.

Will: Yeah, that’s the one that thought he was gonna die first–

Mark: Yeah.

Andrew: Yeah.

Will: And we actually worked on his funeral for over 25 years, we worked on his funeral. ‘Cause we really thought he would die first, and you know, my grandmother would die first, and he’s got three siblings. Two of them would die. All his team would die. I’m talking about like Bev Shea–

Mark: Right, Bev Shea.

Will: And Cliff.

Andrew: You think about someone who offered so much assurance to people still having what might be irrational fear. I mean, that’s the cool human side of someone who offers–

Mark: Did he fear anything?

Will: Well–

Andrew: He feared dying.

Will: He knew where he was going. I think it was the process of dying.

Andrew: The physical.

Will: Yeah, the physical–

Mark: That’s what I worry about.

Will: Is it gonna be drowning, you know.

Mark: I’ll probably go down in a plane but survive that, then it’ll catch on fire, then I’ll survive that, then finally I’ll be on a raft and I’ll survive that and I’ll drown.

Will: That’s right. Shark gets ya, shark bait.


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Mark: Here I am sitting in the home of Billy and Ruth Graham, and I am with the child of the Grahams that they loved the longest.

Gigi: Thank you for saying that, not the oldest and the eldest. That makes me feel much better.

Mark: And from what I hear from my buddy Phil Waldrep, you are good friends, and he says that you are a riot, and I am attracted always to people-

Gigi: To people that cause trouble?

Mark: Aren’t you?

Gigi: Cause trouble?

Mark: No, not trouble, but who still–

Gigi: We stir things up.

Mark: Yeah, we know how to–

Gigi: Yeah, we stir things up.

Mark: Have a good time. I mean, they have the best stories. So you were born in–

Gigi: My mother was that way, believe me.

Mark: Oh, that’s what I’ve heard.

Gigi: Oh yeah.

Mark: Then I got to meet her that one day. We had a Coke float together. That was a thrill.

Gigi: That’s the way she would get out of doing exercise. She’d have the nurses bring Coke floats when the therapist would come up.

Mark: Oh really?

Gigi: And they’d sit and do Coke floats for one hour, and she’d say, “OK, that’s my hour.”

Mark: How did her back, I mean for the last 25 years of her life, Will told me last time I was here, she was like a death sentence of pain.

Gigi: She was always in pain.

Mark: As long as you knew her?

Gigi: I have her back. We have the same doctor, and he says I just have her back. It’s just deterioration.

Mark: Hereditary?

Gigi: Deterioration.

Mark: Yeah.

Gigi: Arthritis, and also she had, you know there’s the famous story of her falling out of the tree in my yard when my kids were little. That helped, I’m sure, mess things up. She had a crack here, and she had a crack in her heel and it was a pretty hard fall, so.

Mark: And she never complained?

Gigi: Never.

Mark: How would you even know she, I mean, was in pain?

Gigi: You could look in her eyes, you know, and of course, she took some pain medicine, but we’d look in her eyes. “Mom, you hurt, don’t you?” “No. I’m fine.” “Mother, you hurt.” “No, I’m fine.” “Mother, come on. How are you? What’s the matter? Tell me.” “I don’t like organ recitals.” So she just wouldn’t tell us.

Mark: What now–

Gigi: Organs! She’s not gonna tell us about her organs.

Mark: Oh!

Gigi: She doesn’t like organ recitals.

Mark: So your dad.

Gigi: He was the opposite.

Mark: OK.

Gigi: Any little tiny thing that was wrong with him was going to be the end.

Mark: Now was he really sick?

Gigi: Sometimes he did have some very peculiar things happen, and we would, I mean like a spider bite or something that got, you know, that was in the news. Or when he got a bug called the Pseudomonas bug and nobody knew what it was until he stopped in Hawaii on his way to the Orient and an Oriental doctor in Hawaii found out what it was. So he would have, he did have some unusual–

Mark: Some odd things.

Gigi: But he, any little tiny thing, that was gonna be it.

Mark: He was always dying?

Gigi: In fact, one time when he came back from a trip, Mother had one of the staff make for him a gigantic black tombstone. And we have a graveyard on the property. And she had it put in the graveyard and took him down there to see it, and it had his name and he was not a bit… He didn’t think this was funny. He wasn’t impressed. He was upset. He did not think it was funny. But she–

Mark: Did she have an inscription?

Gigi: Oh yeah, she was a character.

Mark: Oh yeah.

Gigi: Yeah.

Mark: Oh my gosh.

Gigi: She was fun.

Mark: So tell me about, now your grandparents lived here across the street, and they helped your parents Billy and Ruth buy this home. Is that–

Gigi: Well, I don’t know if they helped them, but it’s right across the street. This was just a little sort of summer cottage that needed a lot of work, but it was on two lots and had a stream, and the main thing was it was right across the street from my parents.

Mark: ‘Cause–

Gigi: And grandparents. And so I think I’ve got the numbers right. I’ve got papers somewhere, but I think they paid about $4,000 for this house and thought they were really overextending.

Mark: Wow.

Gigi: Of course, they remodeled over the years, little by little.

Mark: And your mother knew that his life was gonna be on the road a lot and wanted to be near her parents, right?

Gigi: That’s true. When he started with Youth for Christ, they were living outside of Chicago and then Daddy asked Mother, said, “You know, if I’m gonna be traveling this much where would you like to live?”

Mark: Aww.

Gigi: Which was very gracious of him.

Mark: Yeah.

Gigi: And she said, “Well, if you’re gonna travel, I’d like to live closer to my parents.” Now Daddy would’ve chosen the beach. He would’ve chosen Florida or California if it was up to him, sunshine.

Mark: Yeah.

Gigi: But he was gracious and he loved the mountains, but he just loved the beach.

Mark: So, tell me a funny story about your mama.

Gigi: Oh, my mother was a character. Oh, she was a character. She was so, she was extremely creative. She was an intellectual. She was a reader. She was a writer, an artist. But she was spunky. Oh my goodness, she was spunky.

Mark: Yeah?

Gigi: And she used to tell us girls, “It comes a time to quit submitting and start outwitting.”

Mark: OK, explain that. Submitting and start outwitting.

Gigi: You know, all that time about submitting to your husband, submitting and all this. Now she says, “There comes a time that you quit submitting and you start outwitting.” And so she did a lot of that.

Mark: I love that! So boy, that would be–

Gigi: And in fact, you know, I would tell Daddy years later when he was older and I’d tell him a story about Mother and I’d say, “That’s what she said.” He said, “She did a lot of that, didn’t she, honey?” I said, “Yes, she did.” For example, here we have a fireplace, OK? And she loved fireplaces. Mother loved fireplaces. I think Daddy couldn’t care less if there was a fireplace. If you go to the home there in Charlotte and look at my grandmother’s fireplace, there’s no soot in it, OK? I don’t know if they ever had a fire in it, but here we had a fire going all the time.

Mark: Yeah?

Gigi: But I think it’s because in China growing up, they would gather around a little coal stove in the evening, and the men would read and the women did handwork. And that to her, that was home, that was security, that was love, that was all the things that meant that to her. So she loved… In fact, when she traveled with Daddy, she had a little candle she’d take with her, so in the hotel room she could just light that. That meant something to her.

Mark: Isn’t that something?

Gigi: But now Daddy didn’t care ’cause he got up 4:30 in the morning or whatever it was to milk all the cows, and so they went to bed very early. They didn’t sit around a fireplace and play games or read.

Mark: Sure.

Gigi: So anyway, Mother had this fireplace here and that was fine, but then when we moved, we had to move and things got a little hectic with the tourists here, so we moved, and Mother, when she was building the house up there, she told Daddy she wanted more than one fireplace. Well, Daddy finally, reluctantly I think, agreed to two. Well, Mother wanted more than two fireplaces, so Daddy left and went to India for several weeks. I think it was five or six weeks, maybe longer. She turned to the builder and she said, “I want you to build fireplaces faster than you’ve ever built them in your life,” and she got five before he came home. That’s what she means by outwitting.

Mark: Oh yeah.

Gigi: For all practical purposes, I mean, she was a single parent. Obviously, she had her parents across the street, but Daddy was gone. When I was growing up, it was over 60 percent of the time.

Mark: Wow.

Gigi: So that’s a lot. Now, that is not maybe unusual today because we have military and we have, you know, business people that travel a lot, but in those days, fathers weren’t gone from home, and so that was unusual. But Mother, she used that instead of complaining, she never, ever, ever complained. Daddy would leave and I’d see tears in her eyes and tears in his eyes, and then she would turn to us and she would quote the old mountain man that said make the least of all that goes and the most of all that comes.

Mark: I love that. I’ve never heard that before.

Gigi: Isn’t that great?

Mark: Yes!

Gigi: And she’d say, “You know, kids. Let’s go and get ready for Daddy and look forward to his coming back again.”

Mark: Oh my gosh.

Gigi: So that’s the way she would, you know, always positive.

Mark: How would his life have been different had he not met her?

Gigi: I don’t even want to think about it.

Mark: Wow, that was a God thing, wasn’t it?

Gigi: It’d be very, very different. In fact, the girl that he was engaged to before Mother–

Mark: Oh, we don’t know about that.

Gigi: Oh yeah, well, you can read about her. It’s no secret. Her son lives here in town. We can get him to come talk to us. But anyway, he’s a friend. The first time he met me, he said, “To think, Gigi. I could have been you.”

Mark: Oh!

Gigi: But anyway, but they were very much in love. It was definitely a love relationship, so when Daddy left to go away, it was hard on her. And in those days, obviously, she was alone at night. She would go visit my grandparents across the street some, but you know there was no television or very little. Daddy’s favorite program was Gunsmoke, so that only came on once a week, so we didn’t have a whole lot of TV. She read and she wrote, and she was creative. She was lonely. I mean, she would put us in bed at night. There was no Facebook. There was no telephones, very little telephone. Our telephone was over there on the wall, and I think our number was four, if I’m not mistaken.

Mark: Are you serious?

Gigi: And in those days you know, those kinda, in fact, the telephone operator was our babysitter ’cause Mother would call her up and say, “Sue, I’m going over to my parents. Now if my babies cry, let me know.” Then she’d hang the receiver over our crib, so.

Mark: You are kidding!

Gigi: This is a little town.

Mark: That is amazing!

Gigi: It was fun. Anyway, but she was lonely at night, you can imagine. And she would take my daddy’s jacket and sometimes sleep with it, just so she could have his smell there.

Mark: Wow.

Gigi: And so it was hard on her, but she never complained, never. But she turned all that into creative energy. She was very creative. She knew the Bible a lot better than Daddy did. She was a student of the Bible. She was a real intellectual. I mean, she loved reading that type of book, and she also painted. She was an artist. She was very creative when it came to decorating or making the least of what she had. They didn’t have money back then, you know? So she had to make a lot of things. She had learned that in China, and so she was just a very unusual person.


Andrew: I love hearing you call him granddaddy because to me I think about how I observe this man in our history as the most prominent pastor at least in the 20th century, and then maybe one of the most prominent figures at least off American soil in the 20th century, and yet you just call him granddaddy. I mean, did you know the weight of his influence growing up, or was he just granddad?

Will: First time I realized it was probably in kindergarten, so 1980. I remember my teacher came up, my kindergarten teacher Mrs. Burn. She’s still alive, and she came up and put her hands on my shoulder and said, “This is Dr. Billy Graham’s grandson.” And I’m thinking, how in the world does she know who my granddaddy is, you know? And for us as grandchildren, we called him Daddy Bill.

Andrew: OK.

Will: That was our name of affection for him. My grandmother we called Tai tai, and that’s a Chinese word, a bad pronounced Chinese word ’cause Americans can’t pronounce Chinese words, but it means old lady in Wainese. Where she grew up, it was Tai tai. Tai tai is the way they would say it in Wainese, but we called her Tete, which meant old lady. Which we think, man, that’s disrespectful.

Andrew: That’s what she wanted.

Will: But in China, old age is revered and honored, and so trust me, we don’t know Chinese.

Andrew: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Will: So she had to give us that name, so we as grandchildren called her Tete or we shortened it to Tetty sometimes, but we called him Daddy Bill. So those are the ways that we referred to them, and they were always grandparents, but it probably wasn’t more ’til I was at Liberty University when I started to realize the weight of what my granddaddy had done, and ’cause I went to a public high school. One high school, I went to it, no one cared who your granddaddy was. They knew who he was, but most of ’em wanted to know, did you score any goals in the soccer games? Or did you get the latest Nintendo game, or you know? Vice versa, which girl are you dating? That’s what they cared about. They didn’t care about your granddad, you know?

Andrew: Who saves hundreds of thousands of people.

Will: That’s right, they didn’t care about that. But at the same, so I had a very normal experience, in a sense, growing up. I knew my granddaddy was different, but it wasn’t until Liberty when I got around other Christians, you know a lot of Christians, that I started to feel the weight of it when I was at Liberty University, which was starting in ’93, which was a tremendous experience. You know, got to meet your mom there my freshman year, and I ended up meeting my wife there. You know, I’m indebted to Liberty University. How it taught me God’s Word. And my granddaddy would even come to my graduation, and I think that was the last graduation he did.

Mark: Wow.

Will: He just, it was a lot of pressure on him and stuff like that–

Mark: But that must have made you proud in another way. I mean, ’cause your grandfather came. I mean, how cool is that?

Andrew: Not just Dr. Billy Graham, but your granddad.

Will: So Falwell, Dr. Falwell allowed him to hand me my degree, so my granddaddy handed me my degree. You know, he made all his grandchildren feel like they’re the most important. Both my grandmother and grandfather. Sometimes I say one or the other, but both of ’em always made you feel like you were the most important person in the room. You were the most favorite grandchild. So we all believed that, all 19 of us believed, no, I’m the favorite! No, I’m the favorite!

Mark: Isn’t that great?

Will: But we all felt that, and so we were, they loved us each–

Mark: Did they ever say it?

Will: No. They said, “We sure do love you. I’m proud of you.” They would always say that–

Mark: See, I tell my niece and nephews, every one of ’em, they’re my favorite, but I whisper it in their ear. And I want ’em to kind of hate the others.

Will: My mom says it, but she says it out loud. And so I said, “Mom–“

Mark: Your mom does?

Will: Yeah, but she says it to the other, my siblings. So, “You’re my favorite. I love you too, Will.”

Mark: She does not.

Will: “Mom, you got a favorite?” “No, I don’t have a favorite.”

Mark: How do you think you’re different from your father?

Will: Mm! I think one of the great things I had an opportunity to do was become a pastor. I think that’s one big difference that my dad and I do have.

Andrew: Like in a local church setting.

Will: You know, I was a pastor of a local church. My grandfather was a pastor of a local church for 14 months. So, he could only last 14 months.

Andrew: He was like, I’m out.

Will: So if you’re a pastor and you lasted more than 14 months, you just did something Billy Graham could never do.

Mark: That’s right.

Will: But having that pastor experience, and I went to do it for six months. I was gonna be a pastoral intern for six months, and that’s all I signed and agreed to do. Eight years later, I was still there, and I ended up–

Mark: Were you ready to go after eight years?

Will: No, I went with tears.

Mark: You did?

Andrew: Did you feel that calling? I mean, did that calling come in Liberty, or I mean I think did you ever feel pressure to be the perfect Christian kid, or called to the pastorate?

Will: No, I was never… Was I called in life? Yes. And I got that calling early in life, and I look back and I see a dotted trail. I can’t just say, boop, here’s the date. But I look back and I see a dotted trail, ’cause I remember the teacher said, back in ’82 or something like that, ’83, “Draw a picture of what you want to be in life.” So everybody’s drawing like Joe Montana helmets, you know 49er helmets and Miami Dolphins, all these type of helmets, ’cause they all wanted to be a quarterback, you know. Every kid wants to be a quarterback and win the Superbowl. But I drew two pictures. I drew one of an open Bible, and then the thing beside it was a pair of David Clark headsets. These are aviation headsets, and they’re lime green. They’re ugly looking. But they’re really nice ones, and that’s what my dad would use to fly around and preach. My dad, you know, for Samaritan’s Purse. And so I wanted to go be around… These are aviators, the headphones with the microphone.

Andrew: Yeah.

Will: And so I was wanting to fly around, tell people about Jesus, and so what’s interesting is that, and I felt like that calling. And I look back and I see all these little steps in my life, other times where God confirmed that calling in my life, but it wouldn’t be until Liberty that I would preach my first sermon, and then by my senior year, I had my pilot’s license.

“I look back and I see all these steps in my life, other times where God confirmed that calling in my life.” – Will Graham

Mark: Oh wow.

Will: So I got my pilot’s license at Liberty, and I preached my first sermon not at Liberty but during my time at Liberty. And so both of those things came true my senior year at Liberty, so it’s just neat how to see God put something on your heart back in ’81, ’82, and now it’s ’97 and coming true, so.

Andrew: Did your granddad ever counsel you in ways of, or you know pastoral things, advice?

Will: No, everybody wants to know if we’d sit down and talk shop. You know, we never did. When I was with them, I didn’t talk much. He didn’t talk much. And that’s one thing people realized that my grandfather, Daddy Bill, he never talked at home, very little.

Andrew: You either, ’cause you talk a lot.

Will: Yeah, I know. Yeah, sorry.

Mark: But that would be more like Ruth then, right? No?

Will: She’s–

Mark: Talked more?

Will: No, I get it from my grandma. Let’s say I get it from my mom.

Mark: Oh really?

Will: Yeah, all my mom.

Andrew: Is that right?

Will: It’s my mom.

Mark: Yeah?

Will: It’s my mom coming out in me. And you know, we’re a mix of our parents, right? And I definitely got this from my mom, but my granddaddy wouldn’t talk, so when I was with my granddaddy, we never really talked. We just hung out. For a long time when he was sitting in his bedroom, I’d just go back there and sit with him. He said, “Well, how are things going at The Cove?” And I’d give him a little report, you know. And then, “How are the kids?” You know, I’d talk to him. You know, it was just, and we’d sit there and watch TV, like his pastor ’cause he couldn’t physically go to church, so he would just sit and watch his pastor on television, Don Wilton.

Mark: Oh really?

Will: Out at First Baptist Spartanburg, and so we’d be sitting out there watching and listening and just from time to time we would talk, you know, but–

Mark: So he liked to listen to sermons and stuff?

Will: Oh yeah, and he loved to listen to talk to other people. Like other people talking. He would love to sit there and learn about, you know, to you and to you, you know, your families. Tell me about your day, how you grew up. Tell me about your mom, you know, at Liberty and stuff like that. So he would always want to learn about others. That’s why his favorite TV show in the world was Larry King Live ’cause he got to learn about everybody before he ever met ‘em, so when he met the person in real life, because he watched Larry King, he would know what this person–

Andrew: A researcher almost, yeah.

Will: So he loved Larry King, and they had a very good relationship. My granddaddy was on there more than anybody else on Larry King.

Mark: Isn’t that something?

Will: And sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with Larry and with everybody else, but that was one of those neat things, but my granddaddy, I didn’t, you know, getting back to your question. Did I ever know about my granddaddy? But it wasn’t ’til Liberty that I started realizing. I had people knock on my door, and I’d go you know in the dorm room and I’d go, “Hello,” you know? And they’d say, “Hey.” And they’re just like looking past my shoulder and I’m looking in my room like, you know, what are you looking at? Can I help you buddy? You’re getting freaky now. This is gonna go south real quick. He said, “Well, I just wanted to see what Billy Graham’s grandson’s room looks like.”

Mark: Wow.

Will: I was like, seriously?

Andrew: That started to register.

Will: I’m like, dude, it’s just like your dorm room. All our dorms look, they’re ugly, all right? Mine’s ugly, yours is ugly, all right?

Mark: Have you found it opened any doors for you?

Will: Oh, it opens tons of doors. And that’s why I’m grateful. Being Billy Graham’s grandson, it’s got its curses and blessings.

Mark: Right.

Will: One is, the curse is that everyone has an expectation. One, what you look like, what you’re gonna wear, how you’re gonna act. But the good things are is that it opens tons of doors. People would do things for me because they loved my granddaddy. So I get to experience things, the benevolence of people, because of the love they have for my granddaddy, and so I’m very grateful for that. And trust me, the blessings far outweigh any of the curses I have in life from it.

Andrew: Well, I listen to you talk about being a preacher, and now I mean that’s what I would consider you being outside of the local church, but working on crusades much like your grandfather did, and I read this where you said, “We don’t do massive evangelism. We do one-on-one evangelism on a massive scale.” And I want to ask about that evangelism question because you know evangelism carries a certain connotation that I don’t know that it did in your grandfather’s era of crusading, you know of kind of maybe browbeating with the Bible or some legalistic things, but you still believe in this evangelism style, or–

“We don’t do massive evangelism. We do one-on-one evangelism on a massive scale.” – Will Graham

Will: Proclamation evangelism, we’ll call it.

Andrew: OK.

Will: And that yeah, and I still believe in it ’cause the Bible teaches that. Says faith comes by hearing, and hearing the Word of God. And so I believe in telling people about Jesus Christ. One thing I am adamant against is lifestyle evangelism.

Andrew: OK.

Mark: What is that? How do you define that?

Will: People define lifestyle evangelism as they’re not gonna use words. They’re just gonna let their lifestyle evangelize people.

Andrew: OK, so actions and–

Will: Yeah, they say actions are better than words. The Bible says the opposite. Faith comes by hearing, hearing the Word of God. So, the most important thing you can do is tell people about Jesus. Now please don’t misunderstand me. Your life is important by how you live out that message.

Andrew: Sure, backs it up.

Will: Yeah, it backs it up, but it’s not the other way around ’cause listen, you guys and me will never live a good enough life to lead anybody to Christ. We don’t live… There’s only one person that did–

Mark: I’m real good at doing the opposite.

Will: Well, but we all are to be honest. That’s why you have to tell people about Christ. That’s why Jesus said faith comes by hearing, hearing. They gotta hear it.

Mark: And haven’t you found that the older you get, the more in love you’ve fallen. And that was odd when I was younger to say you’re falling in love with the Lord, right? But, let me start over.

Will: I’m gonna get me a drink.

Mark: OK, good.

Will: Of tea, of tea, that is.

Mark: I don’t even remember where I was going.

Will: This falling in with Jesus thing.

Mark: Oh right, falling in love with the Lord. The older I get, that old song. He gets sweeter as the days go by. Man, it’s true. I mean, the more I get to know the Lord, the kinder and it’s easier to talk to people about him because he really is worth getting to know, you know? It’s not like if you were to die today, do you know where you’d spend eternity? Man, I don’t start there anymore. I start with, hey, where you from? How’d you come to your conclusions? You know, rather than, I used to just see flame licking at everybody’s butt all the time, and if I didn’t win them to Jesus on this flight, their blood would be on my hands. You don’t think that, do you?

Will: No, you know, people are responsible for their own actions.

Mark: Right, but do you witness to every person you see?

Will: I try to, yeah. And sometimes it’s quick, you know, like I didn’t get it all in. I just took a long flight up to Alaska to go see my dad just a few weeks ago. So I sat down, and I was gonna start talking to the guy, you know. And he, I found out he is a believer, and he goes, “What do you do?” I said, “Well, I’m a preacher.”

Mark: That’ll open doors. I mean, that’ll open conversations.

Will: It is, and you know what? I’ve never had one person make it a negative.

Mark: Oh yeah, yeah.

Andrew: Interesting, interesting.

Will: I had one lady on the plane, she started to cry, and she said, and I don’t know what was going on in her life. I think she was on that plane to go make a bad decision. And she said, “I’ve been praying that God would send somebody, and lo and behold, a preacher sits beside me and you’re talking to me.” And she just started weeping.

Mark: Wow.

Will: She just started crying. I had no idea what was going on, and she goes, “You were an answer to my prayer ’cause I was praying for God to send me something before I did something.” And so I have no idea what it was, but it’s interesting because some people say, “I never tell people I’m a preacher.” I’ve heard preachers say, “I never tell people I’m a…” One guy said, “I’m a manufacture representative.” In other words, God manufactures and he’s the representative.

Mark: Got it.

Will: That’s what he says. And I was like, no, I’m the opposite. I tell people I’m a preacher.

Mark: Well, it’ll either open the doors or shut ’em down–

Will: It’s always opened doors.

Andrew: For you, it’s always–

Will: Always has. I had one guy who was a big rap star sitting on the plane beside me–

Mark: But you’re approachable. You’re not a normal preacher.

Will: Well, if I’m young.

Andrew: Rap star, I’m interested in that.

Mark: I’m sorry.

Andrew: No, no.

Will: Well, Asheville’s a big music town, foodie, music town, and he was in here doing a gig, and he said, “What do you do?” I said, “I’m a preacher.” “Oh man, you’re a preacher. Really? That’s cool, man.” You know, and he just wanted to know what was going on, so he and I talked. It was a short flight to Atlanta. It’s only a 20, 30-minute flight. And so–

Andrew: That’s where rappers go.

Mark: To Atlanta, you’re right.

Will: Get to Atlanta, if you’re leaving Asheville, you have to go to Atlanta or Charlotte. Atlanta or Charlotte, that’s the only way if you’re gonna go anywhere, but you just, it opened up doors. So when I got off the plane, he goes, “Bye, preacher. Nice to talk to you, preacher.” He called me preacher, you know? But it’s always, it’s never been a negative connotation. I think we think it causes… I get people wanting to talk my ear off, and sometimes I’m like, oh man, I’ve opened up a can of worms. This is gonna be a long flight.

Andrew: So engaging culture, I think kinda… I’m on the older end of millennialism right? So I always thought I was Gen Xer, it turns out I’m a dumb millennialist or whatever you call it.

Mark: You missed your window of opportunity.

Andrew: I did miss a window of opportunity, but we’re in a very, I would say, in a very individualistic kind of universalist culture spiritually speaking, right? There’s a lot of pathways to God, kind of designer… I’ve heard you call it the designer religion. How have you discovered, because you’re in this age range. You know, I like that you said earlier, “Well, I am a little younger–“

Will: I’m an Xer.

Andrew: Yeah. So how do you engage culture that’s dealing in a fairly ambiguous spiritual, you know, thought process?

Will: You know, I don’t have the… I know people want to see you have a big game plan, but I don’t. I just go out there, and I preach. What I found out though for the most part, when a preacher preaches, communicates, he’s hitting 10 years above him and 10 years below him.

Andrew: OK.

Will: My granddaddy, his range was a little bit wider. He had very broad appeal, but most pastors are hitting the people… If you look like at a pastor in a church, you’ll see the average age of the person is the pastor’s age.

Andrew: So if he’s 50, the average is 50.

Will: The average is 50.

Mark: See, I’ve cornered a dying market. I’m old. My people are old, man.

Andrew: You’re the average now.

Will: You’re the average. So, but you know, that’s what I’ve found. That’s just from personal experience. I’ve noticed that in any church, and I don’t want to say it’s a die hard rule, just saying that’s the average, you’ll find it around that average age, 10 years younger to 10 years older either way. The pastor’s age is right around there. Even when I was pastoring in the church, I had a whole bunch of old people in there and I had a whole bunch of young people. If you did the age, guess what? It was at my age. I didn’t have anybody my age, but I had either side of it when I was pastoring a church in Raleigh. But for me I don’t have necessarily a game plan. I just go out and preach to the audience.

Andrew: Keep it central.

Mark: So you don’t have a five year plan for your life.

Will: I have, no.

Mark: I’ve never had one either.

Will: I don’t know why people want a five year plan.

Mark: I’m surprised I got this far. I’m serious.

Will: You and I both.

Mark: You’re surprised I got this far.

Will: From all the stories your mom told.


Mark: How has it been to be Billy Graham’s… I mean, there’s gotta be a lot of good and bad–

Gigi: Well, I grew up with it, so in a way, I didn’t know anything different.

Mark: Yeah, right.

Gigi: You know, I didn’t know really, this little community here, we were so fortunate to be raised in this community which especially at that time was made up mostly of retired missionaries and pastors from the Presbyterian church.

Mark: How cool.

Gigi: And so these people had served the Lord all over the world, you know? And here we are in redneck country, mountain country, whatever you want to call it here in the mountains, especially when I was growing up, and yet this little cove here was an international community. So God was preparing us even in growing up in a little international community where they all spoke… I mean, we heard you know Portuguese and Spanish and French and African and Chinese and Korean and Japanese spoken among the missionaries here ’cause they would continue… The missionaries from the Presbyterian church all had to be educated before they could go out, so these were intelligent men and women. So they kept up their interest in their country, they kept up the interest of the history, of the politics, and they would pass that down onto us, including the wonderful stories of miracles that happened. You know, to hear of these stories–

Mark: Oh, that’s what I’d love to hear.

Gigi: They were so accepting of us, so as Daddy became more and more well known, they were accepting, they were protective, and you know, the thing about this little community that I always say is that the men and women I grew up around gave me an appetite for what they had. I wanted to be like them.

Mark: Isn’t that great?

Gigi: You know, I mean, I never rebelled against being a Christian or anything. I wanted to be like them, but I think I went off to boarding school before my 13th birthday, and in that boarding school, all of a sudden there were pressures and expectations. You know, and so I think there would have been my first experience of, you know, probably sometimes negative experience.

Mark: They wanted you to–

Gigi: Their expectations, people, and you know the other children and grandchildren will tell you that you know once people know who you are or they see you come in a room they have expectations and you don’t know what they are.

Mark: Like you might be too spiritual to hang with them or?

Gigi: When I moved into one town in south Florida, my neighbors were scared to death because they thought that I was gonna carry a big black Bible around with me and say, “The Bible says…” in the community, you know?

Mark: Right.

Gigi: And they found out I was normal. I screamed at my kids just like everybody else did.

Mark: Isn’t that great?

Gigi: Let me say that I tell people at The Cove, whenever I’m able to share, I say to them, I say, there’s not one thing that any of you all could come up and tell me that would shock me because every… I mean, we have a big family. Daddy had I think 45, 46 great grandchildren. Now when you have a big family like that, we have experienced every single thing that they could tell me somewhere, and yet we’ve experienced the grace of God.

Mark: Yes!

Gigi: So that’s been wonderful, but we don’t have a Teflon umbrella over our family.

Mark: No, but that’s what people think, you got some key to the kingdom.

Gigi: Oh my goodness, we do not have a Teflon umbrella. No, no.

Mark: You can tell ’em is you’re just a freak like everybody else.

Gigi: But God’s grace is sufficient.

Mark: Yes

Gigi: That I can tell ’em.

Mark: My mother said to me one time, “Mark, when you get to heaven, it’s gonna be amazing when you look back.” The faces, right? ‘Cause I don’t realize, and it’s a minuscule thing compared to your father, but I think it’s good that we don’t know all the good that we may or may not have done. Because, you know, first of all I wouldn’t believe it ’cause I know me and I know me better than anybody knows me.

Gigi: He didn’t believe it either.

Mark: Yeah.

Gigi: In fact, he used to say that when he got to heaven, he wasn’t gonna see Jesus for a long time. And we’d say, “Well, why, Daddy?” And he would say, “Because…” One thing that I never, I don’t think I ever heard Daddy say, “my ministry.”

Mark: Oh really?

Gigi: It was always “our” because he said everybody that cleaned the carpets, drove the cars, typed the sermons, all the office work, all those that helped in the home or wherever, they were part of helping his ministry, and so he said it’s gonna take me so long to see Jesus. because they’re all gonna be in line before me ’cause I got the glory here and they didn’t.

Mark: Wow. That’s really profound.

Gigi: Daddy was truly a humble person. I was called one time, somebody was writing a book about Daddy, and they wanted especially to have me tell about his humility, and I said, “Well, I can give you illustrations of his humility and stories of traveling with him and seeing his humility,” but I said, “That’s just who he was.” He didn’t sit down one day and say I’m gonna be humble.

Mark: Oh, or one day I’m gonna be the greatest evangelist that ever lived.

Gigi: No, and he always put other people first. I would take people up there just like Will and the others that live here. We would at times take people up to see Daddy, especially as he was older. And we’d go into his little study there, and usually the person that was coming, the important person that was coming to visit, would have someone with him, accompany him or her. And we’d go back there and they’d start talking to Daddy, and it would just be within a few minutes that Daddy would say, “Now you back there, I wanna know about you. Tell me, do you have a family? Now where are you from?” He always wanted to know.

Mark: Brilliant.

Gigi: About the other person and always the little people too. He didn’t think he was important.


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Mark: Yeah, so when we have our next conversation you can have coffee with us. Let’s get back to the conversation.


Andrew: I was thinking about how your granddad had such a great relationship with Larry King, you know? And then we were looking at the presidents, right? Thinking about all the different thought processes, even maybe belief systems, in those presidents’ life, and yet he was able to have this genuine, authentic relationship to some degree to all of them, and I think that comes back to what you’re saying, like keeping it central. I was reading an interview of yours, someone was interviewing you in Christianity Today, and they asked a question about are we weak, in American Christianity, are we weakening our doctrinal commitments? And I thought it was interesting that I thought, well, could our scriptural commitments, like are we dividing dying on molehills of doctrinal commitments? I feel like I think about your granddad’s approach to the Gospel. I’m hearing what is your approach to the Gospel, keeping the main thing the main thing. Do you think there’s such a thing as weakening… Is that a bad thing that we’re weakening doctrinal commitments for the sake of uniting over–

Mark: I have no idea what you just asked.

Will: Well, you mean like become more centralist in our–

Andrew: Yeah, theology.

Will: I think when we keep it focused on Jesus–

Mark: Yes.

Will: That’s the main thing. That’s what my granddaddy always wanted to do. Now my granddaddy was criticized for it. My granddaddy was really criticized for it.

Mark: By the right and left?

Will: By both sides, mainly the right, you know? The Southern Baptists. And I’m Southern Baptist, Independent Baptist like Falwell.

Mark: So the Southern Baptists were upset with him too?

Will: They would, well, a number of things. One, ’cause he would talk with Catholics.

Mark: OK.

Andrew: Oh.

Will: And he would talk with Seventh Day Adventists. He would talk with Presbyterians. He was married to a Presbyterian. And we joke about that. I mean, a lot of that stuff we joke between denominations–

Andrew: But there were some serious criticisms.

Will: But yeah, my granddaddy’s hair was too long for some, especially for the Independent Baptists like Falwell.

Mark: I remember.

Will: Falwell never criticized my granddaddy for his hair length or anything, but I’m just saying there was a lot of, a lot of heat came more from the right than the left. But my granddaddy, he didn’t care. He wanted to focus on what was central to the Gospel, and his rule was anybody who was willing to work with me to share the good news of Jesus Christ in their community is welcome at the table. So when Catholics came, they were welcome. When all these other denominations that he’s not a part of, that’s what he would, you know have–

Mark: And now everybody does that.

Will: Well, you’ll still hear people that get upset–

Mark: But there’s a fringe in every… There’s always that lunatic fringe out there.

Will: When my granddad went to do a peace conference in a denuclearization peace conference in Russia, he took a lot of flak from the Christian community ’cause they saw it as you’re going to, you know, badmouth the United States. You’re going to legitimicize the USSR. And my granddad, one, wasn’t gonna talk bad about the United States, but he was gonna go talk about the Word of God. And so, but a lot of Christian ministers really got mad with my granddaddy, even to the point where he says when he gets home, he doesn’t even know if he’s gonna have a ministry.

Mark: He thought that or?

Will: Yeah, he thought that. He thought that ‘cause it had been that negative. And he was worried. I say worried. He knew it was in God’s hands. That’s all that mattered, but he was wondering what he’s gonna have to do when he gets back to deal with because he was taking so much heat, but my granddaddy was just trying to open up the USSR to the Gospel.

Mark: Wow.

Will: That was a closed door for a long time. Your generation probably won’t remember it as much, but I vaguely remember it, but my parents, I mean, they–

Andrew: Sure, that was their generation.

Will: They had to jump under desks in case of a nuclear attack, like the desk is gonna help somehow, but you know, they did those drills and so they remember this, and that was a big fight for my dad and his siblings’ generation was the red scare, and so here they are. Now my granddaddy has an opportunity to go into the communist Europe and to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ, and he was being criticized because it was communism. You know, you don’t go do anything for the communists. They’re evil. And my granddaddy was opening up the Gospel. You know, Ronald Reagan’s gonna get a lot of… He gets a lot of credit for bringing down the Soviet Union. I think, personally, I think it was my granddad.

Mark: Do you?

Will: Because it was spiritual.

Mark: Yeah, it was.

Will: It was a spiritual thing. Everything was changing spiritually. There was a lot of things coming together.

Mark: Are there were a lot of Christians there at that time, were there?

Will: No, they’d been starved.

Mark: Underneath or–

Will: Yeah, they were starved under communism. They couldn’t have churches and stuff like… They could, but it was really restricted. Very hard to preach.

Mark: And he came over and–

Will: And he came over there from an invitation ‘cause, I think it was Hungary, was trying to get into the, trying to get a trade agreement with the United States. And to have that, they had to have freedom of religion, so they wanted to show, oh yeah, we got freedom of religion. Get Billy Graham to come over here, you know? I think it was Hungary. I can’t quite remember my facts on that, but it was some country in Eastern Europe that wanted to have my granddaddy there really as a show, hey, we do believe. We want this trade agreement.

Andrew: OK, so it was political.

Will: It was a political move, but my granddaddy seized it as an opportunity to preach the Gospel. ‘Cause they didn’t think… No one’s gonna come. No one knows who Billy Graham is. And lo and behold, it was packed.

Mark: Was it?

Will: Yeah, I mean it was packed. People hanging off everywhere, and it was the first of the communist countries.

Mark: And he gave an invitation?

Will: Well, he would preach. There was no room for an invitation. Well, I say, when we think of invitations, we say come forward. You couldn’t do that. There was no stage. People had their tape recorders and doing tape cassettes and hitting record and listening to it and because they had… And the communists didn’t know what to do with it. They’re like, this is–

Andrew: We’ve never seen this before.

Will: And they were getting afraid ’cause they’d never seen anything like this, and they didn’t think anyone was gonna show up. And so they were cutting the power cords to his microphone and stuff like that.

Mark: They were?

Will: And somebody was.

Andrew: Yeah.

Will: And taking the, or not showing up with speakers ’cause it was just a lot of work. Matter of fact, where we’re eating this meal right now is in my granddad’s office. All those details were done in this office, especially a man named John Akers, and T.W. Wilson. They worked hard on trying to organize this, taking trips to Eastern Europe for months ahead of time trying to organize this talking, dialoguing, planning details, who they’re gonna meet, what things they were gonna see. It was all planned out, and they didn’t know from day to day if they were gonna be able to finish it because it was such, it was such new territory no one knew what was gonna happen. But God used it to open up Eastern Europe, so I believe that a lot of it had to do with my–

Andrew: The ripple effect, dominoes.

Will: But Billy Graham’s gotta be in that phrase somewhere because it was a spiritual change that was going on in Eastern Europe.

Andrew: You know, I was in Bulgaria just like a year and a half ago performing at this church, and underneath, I was stomping my foot and something, keeping time, and it was hollow underneath. And I asked in between through the translator, “What’s underneath the stage, or this floor?” And he said, “It’s a baptistry.” He said, “Because in the days of communism, we had to baptize at the dark of night underground.” And I was thinking like what you’re talking about. So the spiritual activity was still there. You can’t squelch the Spirit of God, and so Billy’s visit there must have been a liberating… These people are starving.

Mark: Yeah.

Andrew: And someone’s bringing food.

Will: And it was just like, it was, I’ve seen it where I go up to Alaska a lot. And they got this tundra up there, and they’ll have these tundra fires that will start through lightning or an accident or something like that, and it’ll burn and just smolder for months, it will smolder. Then all the sudden it gets a little bit of oxygen and it comes out and that’s what my granddaddy… It was smoldering underneath, but when my granddaddy came, it was just like oxygen to a fire.

Mark: Like gasoline.

Will: And then it kept opening up to other countries. Romania’s probably one of the most unbelievable. I was just there last year in Romania, but to see the people that were hanging off roofs, it’s every OSHA rule would have been broken.

Mark: Wow.

Will: And people crammed in to the point where it got scary. They didn’t feel unsafe. It was just there was such a crowd of people that they were just getting pushed and pushed and pushed, and people were excited to hear the Gospel, and that’s what God gives favor and God was bringing people to hear the Gospel, and my granddaddy was the megaphone for God to preach.

Mark: Now when you go to Romania now, are they still showing up?

Will: Yeah, oh yes. We just had a huge one.

Mark: And you’re the–

Will: Yeah, I’m the preacher. I was doing a crusade–

Mark: Who’s your George Beverly Shea?

Will: Well, I got Mark Christian that goes with me quite a few times.

Mark: Oh, I know him, one of the greatest singers in the world.

Will: But sang for Dr. Falwell for years, and for the Sounds of Liberty.

Mark: I watched him grow up.

Andrew: Were you looking?

Mark: Huh?

Andrew: Were you looking?

Mark: No, Lord no. I could be your George.


Mark Lowry, Andrew Greer, and Mark Christian singing “Just As I Am”

Mark: We are in Billy and Ruth Graham’s home, which has been a wonderful day and sitting over to my right is a friend of mine from college who just happens to now be Will Graham’s George Beverly Shea. In other words, what George which was for Billy, my friend Mark Christian, who sang in the Sounds of Liberty, one of my dear friends, and one of the best singers. And we are going to sing the Billy Graham crusade invitation song, and if you know it, sing along with us.

Just as I am, without one plea

But that Thy blood was shed for me

And that Thou bid’st me come to Thee

O Lamb of God, I come. I come

Just as I am, Thou wilt receive

Wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve

Because Thy promise I believe

O Lamb of God, I come. I come

Just as I am, I come to Thee

Oh Lamb of God, I come. I come


Andrew: Yeah, and David was telling us, and actually Mark too, like how your demeanor, your physical presence, your speech is the most like Billy out of, especially maybe when he was your age, out of all the grandchildren and stuff. Do you feel that as a mantle of responsibility, or do you still feel the freedom to be you while in this lineage you know?

Will: No, I… I’m blessed to have wonderful grandparents, you know? And that’s always gonna be a part of me. But I gotta be my own person, and I gotta follow the Lord, gotta be obedient to him, not what my dad wants or my granddad wants or my grandmother or my mom. I gotta do what God’s calling me to do.

Andrew: It may seem over simple, but if you had, Will Graham, if you had to sum it all up, your life’s purpose, life’s meaning?

Will: To preach the Gospel. Plain and simple.


Mark: I do another program called Mondays with Mark.

Gigi: OK.

Mark: It’s more of a fun… This show Dinner Conversations–

Andrew: This is a drag.

Mark: No, it’s no. No, it’s not! So we’re handling–

Gigi: Issues.

Mark: Issues with artists who are dealing with those issues, or people, right? But this is the most light-hearted Dinner Conversations we’ve had. But when I–

Gigi: ‘Cause you haven’t gotten into our issues.

Mark: Well, maybe, maybe we could.


Mark: Hey, Will, come sing!

Will: No.

Mark: Over there in that chair.

Will: No. No!

Andrew: Are you waiting on him?

Will: No, I’m gonna see if he needs a way out.

Mark: Oh, he needs a way out. I love you too.

Mark Christian: Who me?

Mark: And we’ll be in Franklin, Tennessee this weekend.

Mark Christian: Thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen.


Mark: Well, wasn’t that a fun episode with Will Graham and his Aunt Gigi?

Andrew: That’s right, Aunt Gigi. You can find Will Graham’s devotional Redeemed through our Amazon affiliate link in our episode description.

Mark: And if you want to binge watch all of Season Two of Dinner Conversations, you can do that right now on Amazon Prime.

Andrew: Thanks for watching Dinner Conversations with–

Mark: Mark Lowry.

Andrew: And Andrew Greer.

Mark: Turning the light on.

Andrew: One question at a time.

Mark: Yep. Dinner Conversations is brought to you by Food For The Hungry, a relief and development organization serving those in need around the globe for more than 40 years.

Andrew: Help our friends at Food For The Hungry save thousands of refugee lives today by considering a generous gift.

Mark: A gift that will be matched 22 times!

Andrew: It’s incredible. Visit fh.org/dinner to give now.


Join Mark and Andrew as we support our Dinner Conversations Season Two title sponsor, Food for the Hungry (FH) – a relief and development organization serving those in need around the globe for more than 40 years. 

Partner with us as we partner with FH save thousands of Rohingyan refugee lives in Bangladesh today by considering a generous gift – a gift that will be matched 22-times! And remember, every dollar enters you into the Season Two Grand Prize Giveaway, which includes dinner with Mark and Andrew in Houston, plus more surprises. 

Give generously here: fh.org/dinner


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Watch Our Other Episodes:

S02, E01: A Change of Mind featuring Danny Gokey and Dr. Caroline Leaf
S02, E02: The Last Goodbye featuring Amy Grant