Ruth and Billy Graham: What Grace Provides


This award-winning documentary tells the intimate tale of the marriage of the most powerful evangelist of the century—a unique love story, wrought with frequent heartwrenching partings & a fierce determination to stay together and do a job each felt called to do.

Some say that Billy Graham's voice can shake mountains, its resonance clutching at the hearts of people who hear him speak. His message of eternal hope has changed thousands of lives and captured the attention of millions of people. But behind the public minister is a courageous wife and family. Only a few have caught glimpses of Billy Graham, the husband and father. Even fewer know the story of the woman who made it possible for him to travel so freely--his wife, Ruth. Ruth and Billy Graham: What Grace Provides tells the intimate story of the wife and marriage of the most powerful evangelist of the century. Unlike any ordinary love story, the Grahams' story is wrought with frequent heartwrenching partings and fierce determination to stay together and do the jobs each of them felt led to do.

Producer Donna Campbell includes an original music score for the program, based on 18 of Ruth and Billy's favorite hymns and performed by North Carolina musician Richard Putnam of Shelby, N.C. The program traces the timeline from before Ruth's and Billy's births and travels through their childhood, decisions toward ministry, courtship, and marriage. Clips from Billy Graham's Christian radio and television shows introduce several people who became an influential part of Billy's ministry, such as George Beverly Shea.

Walter Cronkite, former newscaster for CBS and friend of the Grahams, narrates the biography. Based on contemporary interviews with the Grahams, their family and friends, the documentary blends archival footage from family photographs, early television and home movies. Cronkite also reminisces about his own relationship with the Grahams.

"I think a lot of us look upon Billy Graham as being larger than life and one of those saints or prophets up on a hill who is giving the Word," Lynda Johnson Robb says. "But you know, he's a real person. And the same about Mrs. Graham. She's not a plastic saint."

"This program touches much more on the Grahams' personal love story, and it especially focuses on Ruth," says Donna Campbell, producer.

Several other familiar personalities tell the story of the Grahams: mystery author Patricia Cornwell, former First Ladies Barbara Bush, Lady Bird Johnson, inspirational singer George Beverly Shea, and actress Andie McDowell. The documentary includes clips from many of Billy's travels, highlights from the Grahams' reception of the Congressional Medal of Honor, and scenes from several televised interviews with Ruth. Rare family photos and exclusive interviews with Billy's sisters in Charlotte, Jean and Catherine, and Ruth's older sister, Rosa, as well as footage from shows from 1956, "Person To Person with Edward R. Murrow," and 1957, "This is Your Life," blend the Grahams' family life with a snapshot of Billy's ministry.

The idea for the Graham show grew out of Campbell's 1999 documentary on George Beverly Shea, Billy Graham's partner in ministry for 50 years. Ruth, a woman of immeasurable character and strength that often stood in her husband's shadow, particularly fascinated Campbell.

"Billy's told me over and over again that Ruth is the real Christian in the family," says Barbara Bush. "I think when you are married to someone whom people idolize, it's hard for the wife sometimes."

Ruth and Billy Graham: What Grace Provides shares the joy and challenges of the Graham's marriage and family life. Despite the couple's assurance that they wouldn't trade a minute of their lives, both dealt with the frequent hardship of Billy's long absences. Sometimes Ruth would go with him, adding a playful banter to his television spots. Most of the time she stayed at home with their five children, maintaining the household and writing poetry and personal anecdotes in her journal. Verses of her poetry, as well as clips from her journal, paint a vivid portrait of the woman behind the most renowned evangelist in the world.

History has told Billy's story. The time has come to tell Ruth's. Ruth and Billy Graham: What Grace Provides will surprise and inspire everyone, showing how a fiercely independent woman and a charismatic man had a unique marriage that lasted a lifetime.