Liberty University School of Law professor Basyle J. Tchividjian has respect for his grandfather, but so do millions of people around the world. That’s because his grandfather is evangelist Billy Graham, or to him, “Daddy Bill.”
Tchividjian is one of 19 Graham grandchildren. His mother, Gigi (Virginia) Graham, is the eldest daughter of Billy and Ruth Graham.
Tchividjian, along with one of his brothers, Aram Tchividjian, recently published a book, “Invitation: Billy Graham and the Lives God Touched — Stories of Real People Transformed By God,” to be released Sept. 16. The hardcover, tabletop gift book is a compilation of stories the brothers have received on the website, www.thankyoubilly.com, which was launched last year.
“We’ve always had people approach us throughout our lives and say, ‘Hey, do you have a minute? I want to tell you what God did in my life through your grandfather.’ So throughout our lives we’ve heard these incredible stories,” Tchividjian said. “As we got older, we started to think, ‘how can we capture some of these amazing stories’? That was the beginning of the website.”
Within four months, they had received more than 600 stories — stories like the woman in her 20s who was feeling hopeless and got up off the couch to go commit suicide, stepped on the TV remote and it switched the channel to a Billy Graham crusade. “She heard this distinct voice, sat back down and that night accepted Christ,” Tchividjian said.
The stories, he said, are from people all over the world and from all walks of life.
“The reality is most people have heard what famous people have to say about Billy Graham — what does Larry King have to say, what does George Bush have to say — but what about the average everyday person like you and I? What about the waitress that dropped everything to go to a crusade or the cab driver who found himself sitting at a Billy Graham crusade? Those actually tend to be more interesting and more fascinating than some of the ones we hear from people more well-known,” he said.
The ultimate purpose of the book, Tchividjian said, is to draw people to Christ, not to Billy Graham.
“It’s not about Billy Graham, it’s about God. So at the end of the book we have an invitation. So people who have gone through this book and ... if God’s moved their heart, then they are able to actually invite Christ into their life. Our hope is that this book will be used as a ministry tool in many homes across the world.”
“Invitation” combines more than 60 photographs from family collections and the archives of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. For more on the book and purchasing information, go to www.thankyoubilly.com.
A practicing attorney based in central Florida for many years, Tchividjian recently relocated to Central Virginia and this is his first semester teaching at Liberty University. He said he visits his grandfather a few times a year, but he’s not sure he has had a chance to see the book yet.
“I do want to make it over there to Montreat (outside of Asheville, N.C.) and show it to him. With his age, he’s having a real difficult time seeing, so my prayer is that he will at least see some of the book.” There is also an audiobook available, he said, “so I’m hoping if he can’t read it, he will get the CD so he can at least hear some of it.”
Tchividjian said although the book is full of stories of the impact his grandfather has had on so many, his own fondest memory of Daddy Bill is not included.
That memory is of a time in the late 1980s, when Tchividjian was in college and his grandfather invited him to a political convention in New Orleans. Tchividjian and a friend wanted to go out on the town when they got there, but they needed a car, so they decided to find his grandfather’s hotel and ask to borrow his rental car. It was 9 p.m.
“With all the social parties going on, we didn’t think he’d be there, but he answers [the door], he’s in his pajamas, and invites us in,” Tchividjian recalls. “I saw out of the corner of my eye as we were talking to him that he had been sitting on the bed and his Bible was open. I remember thinking that night, ‘Here’s a man who could be with anybody he wanted to tonight, any presidential candidate, any movie star, any other VIP and he chooses to be with his Heavenly Father.’ As a college student, that impacted me significantly.”