4 out of 5 Billy Graham’s Children Divorced: One Divorced Three Times.
Three out of the five children of late Billy Graham have been divorced, with one divorcing four times.
Today, the Graham children are all engaged in full-time ministry.
Ruth, who divorced four times battled depression but could not seek counseling as she was raised to think that: “that people who needed counseling were somehow spiritually deficient”.
All the three girls married at age 18 but after 21 years, Ruth’s husband admitted to infidelity and the couple divorced.
Ruth remarried quickly, against her parents’ wishes. She confessed: “Daddy even called me from (a crusade in) Tokyo, saying I should slow down” in this new relationship. But I didn’t listen. I was just so eager for someone to take care of me”.
A month later, feeling regret and “fear for her physical safety,” she quickly packed her car and fled with her daughter to her parent’s home in Montreat.
As she drove home, her fears multiplied at every mile. She said: “I was nervous, anxious, bruised, and broken”.
She knew her parents had every right to say, “I told you so,” when her second marriage fell apart.
“But when I rounded that last bend of the long driveway, Daddy was standing in front of the house, waiting. I got out of the car, he wrapped his arms around me and said, ‘Welcome home.’ In that moment, I realized, that’s what God does for us. He shows us grace. And I wanted to do that for other people.” She described her father’s gracious open arm (love) as a moment of healing.
“I have a lot of insecurities and lack of self-confidence perhaps because little girls need their daddy. Many other people stepped up to help, but it’s not the same. They say your view of God is shaped by your view of your father. I guess I saw God that way—that he loved me, but that he was busy with more important things. But that day when Daddy was waiting for me at the end of the driveway, that proved what I had known all along: that he loved me”.
She married a third time a few years later, and eventually, that marriage ended in divorce as well. Ruth has chosen to use her painful circumstances to minister to “the wounded in the church” via her ministry: Ruth ‘Graham and Friends’.
The eldest, Gigi Graham Foreman also married at 18, to “a man I didn’t really know,” she confessed.
Stephen Tchividjian, was a native of Armenia, who took her to Europe to live. After raising seven children, they also divorced. She’s since remarried to Chad Foreman.
Yet Gigi thrived in life. She has written seven books and is a sought-after speaker.
Another daughter, Anne Graham Lotz runs AnGeL Ministries, which hosts Bible-teaching revivals and conferences both here and abroad, and has authored numerous books.
Ned Graham (a son) openly admitted to drinking and marijuana use. He married at 22 but divorced 20 years later. He since then remarried to Christina Kuo.
THE EFFECTS OF BILLY’S ABSENCE
The absence of Billy Graham, who was sometimes away from home for straight six months, obviously affected his girls.
‘He belonged to the world’
“My father was not a hands-on father,” Anne told Christianity Today. “Mother was both our mother and our father, in many ways. That’s what makes her absence now such a void.” (Ruth died in 2007.)
The Grahams raised their family in Montreat, North Carolina, where many retired missionaries, including Ruth’s parents, Virginia and L. Nelson Bell, had settled. “We were more known as Dr. Bell’s grandchildren than Billy Graham’s children” at first, Gigi notes. The Bells and the BGEA staff helped raise the children.
Each morning and evening, the entire family would gather for prayer, on their knees. When Billy was home, he’d lead these family devotions. Mandatory Scripture memory was also a part of growing up Graham. “I could not go out and play on a Sunday afternoon until after I had memorized at least one Scripture verse,” Franklin says.
‘One day I went into Mama’s room, and Daddy had come home. So here he was, this man in her bed. I asked Mama, ‘Who’s that?’ ” – Franklin Graham (son).
Billy was always willing to talk (and to patiently listen) to strangers who approached him, even when he was with his family in public. Gigi said: “It’s very difficult for me to separate who he was as a person and as a father. He belonged to the world. But I do remember crying in the bathtub, wishing I had a normal daddy”.
At age eight, Gigi accompanied her parents to England and Scotland, one of the few times she traveled with them. One day, she awoke to discover her parents had left the hotel without telling her, leaving a staff member to look after her.
All three girls went to boarding school, where Gigi says she cried “because I was homesick.”
At school, she “was no longer sheltered, and was on display. She said people had unrealistic expectations. ”A headmistress once asked her to pray aloud, then later scolded her because she “didn’t measure up to their expectations of how a daughter of Billy Graham ought to pray”.
Billy wrote letters and postcards regularly to each of the children, and to the family as a whole, asking them to pray for his work, telling them about the places he was visiting.
Ruth said she saved all of those letters. “He parented me from a distance. Daddy had a lot of heavy responsibility. . . . He loved us, but he just wasn’t around”.
Gigi agreed with Ruth, saying: “A lot of my insecurities came from the fact that he just wasn’t there. But he was always affectionate. And in my adult life, I’ve spent more time with Mother and Daddy. I feel like God has given me back the lost time”.