The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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March 31, 2013

Ruth Graham set to visit Bluefield College

BLUEFIELD —

Today, Ruth Graham, the daughter of evangelist Billy Graham, will celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

“I love to acknowledge, first thing in the morning, that He is risen,” she said.

The 62-year-old speaker and author will gather with her children and grandchildren, attend church and then enjoy a big lunch. She plans to fix her children’s favorite foods. And if the weather is nice, they will venture outside into the sunshine.

Growing up, Graham, 62, said her mother made sure the family celebrated the real meaning of Easter.

“It is like Christmas,” she said. “It has been commercialized and it is more about clothes, the Easter bunny and candy. Christ is being pushed further and further. It is distressing to me ... we have left our foundation and we are in trouble.”

After the holiday, Graham, the founder and president of Ruth Graham & Friends, will resume her travel schedule. She will visit the two Virginias on April 10-11, part of Bluefield College’s month-long Celebration of Appalachia.

“I grew up in the mountains of North Carolina, near Asheville,” she said. “I love the mountains. I love these mountains because they are gentle unlike the Rockies or the Alps. They have nurtured me throughout my life.”

A resident of Virginia, Graham is also drawn to the people of Appalachia.

“They are very warm, very real and very practical. They have good common horse sense and I value that in people,” she added.

During her first appearance on Wednesday, April 10, Graham will speak at a women-only event at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Bluefield at 6 p.m. The event will feature dinner, a lecture and book signing.

“I love southern women,” Graham said. “They are just beautiful women and they are fun to be with. With women events, it is like being with your girlfriends. You can let your hair down.”

Graham plans to talk about her mother, Ruth Bell Graham, who passed away in 2007.

“I don’t often talk about my mother, or my family,” she said. “But I thought the women might like to hear what my mother was like.”

Graham has written several books, including “Step into the Bible,” the book most pertinent to her ministry, “In Every Pew Sits A Broken Heart” and her most recent “Fear Not Tomorrow, God is Already There.”

She writes and speaks about life’s difficult challenges and God’s presence during trying times. Graham said she began writing with encouragement from her mother.

“I have been writing since I was a little girl,” she said. “I like to journal.”

She didn’t set out to become an author or speaker.

“I wanted to be a wife and mother, nothing more. I thought that was the best ... when our marriage ended in divorce, I went on a different path,” she said.

She started filling in for her sister Gigi, who had begun speaking at different places around the country in the mid-’90s.

In 2006, Graham founded the Ruth Graham & Friends Ministry. Her ministry website states, “ ... she connects with audiences, talking openly about her own pilgrimage through her husband’s infidelities, her divorces, her teenage daughter’s two unplanned pregnancies, another daughter’s bulimia, her son’s battle with drugs and returning to school at age 40.”

As for her schedule, she takes opportunities as they come, looking for outreaches and ways to help others.

“I don’t want to miss the opportunities the Lord gives me,” she said.

Graham said she has never been to the two Bluefields and is excited to visit Bluefield College. Her second appearance will be “A Celebration of Faith through Music and Drama,” on Thursday, April 11, at 7:30 p.m. in BC’s Harman Chapel. Open and free to all (first-come, first-served), the fine arts celebration will feature remarks from Graham, along with musical and theatrical performances by BC’s select student voice ensemble, Variations, its Instrumental Ensemble, and its theatrical troupes.

“I am looking forward to coming to that area,” she said.

She wants to help people who are wounded by life events such as divorce, depression and children with special needs.

“ ... things they didn’t ask for but happened. I want people to know whatever they are going through, they don’t walk alone. God walks with me. He can take whatever is wrong and turn it into something good,” she added.

Graham will also visit with students, staff and faculty on Thursday. She enjoys being with students and visiting college campuses. She said that type of experience “lights her fire.”

Because space is limited, reservations are required for all Graham events, even the free functions. To reserve a seat, call 276-326-4242. Tickets for the Celebration of Faith through Music and Drama may also be reserved online by visiting www.bluefield.edu/appalachia or www.bcevents.ticketleap.com.

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