“The more I discover about Reverend Graham, the more I peel away the layers of the onion, so to speak, the more impressed I am.”
— Former U.S. Rep. J.C. Watts in “Chicken Soup for the Soul: Billy Graham & Me”
More than 100 people, including two noted Oklahomans, share their personal stories about evangelist Billy Graham in a book released in February.
“Christian Soup for the Christian Soul: Billy Graham & Me: 101 Inspiring Personal Stories from Presidents, Pastors, Performers and Other People Who Know Him Well” offers readers a close-up look at Graham's combination of faith and humility from those whom he has inspired.
Anecdotal stories come from a wide variety of contributors, including former presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, actors Kevin Sorbo and Cheryl Ladd, coach Tony Dungy and media personalities Kathie Lee Gifford, Mike Huckabee and Kyra Phillips. Oklahomans J.C. Watts and the Rev. Craig Groeschel also are among the list of contributors who agreed to share their stories about Graham.
Watts, former U.S. representative from Norman, and Groeschel, founding pastor of the Edmond-based megachurch LifeChurch.tv, each share how the renowned evangelist has touched their lives.
In a recent interview, Groeschel said he did not hesitate to add his story contribution when asked.
“When you talk about integrity, Billy Graham is one of the biggest heroes of my life,” Groeschel said. “I don't know anyone whose shown more boldness in sharing the gospel. Meeting him was tremendously humbling.”
Groeschel's story is joined by the stories of other well-known Christian religious leaders, including Rick Warren, Joel Osteen, Miles McPherson and Roman Catholic Cardinal Timothy Dolan. Leaders from other faith groups, including Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein and South African activist Ela Gandhi, also shared stories.
Finally, Graham's own family and friends honored him for his authenticity, with stories from his daughters Anne and Ruth, his sister, Jean Ford, and his lifelong ministry partner Cliff Barrows.
Common themes throughout the stories are Graham's integrity and humility. He is revealed to be a man loving and accepting of all, with a genuine faith from which he draws peace, strength and hope that he is able to share.