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Happy 90th Birthday, Daddy Bill: A letter to my Grandfather for his 90th birthday

November 10, 2008

Dearest Daddy Bill: 

As we celebrate your 90th birthday, I want to share what is on my heart about the incredible love I have for you and how grateful I am to be called your grandson. Though the world knows and loves "Billy Graham", God has graciously allowed me to know you simply as "Daddy Bill". I am not sure where that name originated, but it fits perfectly as you are both my grandfather and my dear friend.

Some of my fondest memories are of spending summers and holidays with you, accompanying you to crusades around the country, and your visits to our home in Florida eating at your favorite restaurant...Morrison's Cafeteria! I treasure those evenings when it was bedtime and we would gather in your kitchen area and all get on our knees and pray together. Such moments are forever etched in my memory. Thank you for being such an authentic witness for Jesus Christ.

Daddy Bill, I could write a book on the ways God has used you to impact my life. One of those occasions occurred during the summer of 1988, when you invited me and a college friend to go with you to the Republican National Convention in New Orleans. One evening during our visit, my friend and I were looking for a car to borrow so that we could drive around the city. As a college sophomore who did not have God as a priority in my life, I was simply interested in 'getting out' into the city to have some "fun". I remembered that you had access to a rental car and decided to come to your hotel and ask if we could borrow the car. When we arrived at your hotel at about 9 p.m., I suddenly realized that you were probably not going to be in your room. We were in the middle of a national convention and you certainly would have been invited to any number of social gatherings with various political leaders and other well known people. My hopes of borrowing that rental car began to fade. I admit to being quite surprised when you answered your hotel room door wearing pajamas.

As you invited us in, I noticed out of the corner of my eye that you had been sitting on your bed and your Bible was open. At that moment, God convicted my heart in a powerful way. Here you were, Billy Graham, 'America's Preacher', at a convention attended by some of the most influential and famous people in the world, and you chose to spend the evening in your hotel room fellowshipping with our Heavenly Father. You were enjoying time with God and it didn't matter whether anybody knew it or not. That is what I call authentic Christianity.

Daddy Bill, perhaps your greatest characteristic is humility. You have always reminded us that your life is not about 'Billy Graham' but about Jesus Christ. The Apostle Paul writes; But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. (Galatians 6:14). This verse is given very practical meaning when I think of you. I have been in the room when you have called and spoken to the President of the United States and then immediately invite the housekeeper to sit down and join the family for dinner...this is just one small example of many. You have always been just as interested in relating with 'everyday people' such as taxi drivers, housekeepers, waitresses, etc. as you are with Presidents, Queens, and movie stars. The only matter for which I have ever seen you 'boast' about is the Gospel of Christ which you communicate to all persons equally both in words and actions.

In many ways you have been the 'hands and feet of Christ' in my life for which I am so thankful. I have known and seen you after the cameras have been turned off and the crowds have gone home. The authenticity of the Gospel lived out in your life has been a gracious example to so many...including this grandchild.

Daddy Bill, you have sacrificed so much so that many would hear the treasured gospel of Jesus Christ. You have lived out love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control. You have showed me what it means to be an authentic Christian. I praise God for your living testimony of His goodness and grace. I am so thankful for the many precious memories and I pray that God will graciously grant me many more.

Happy Birthday Daddy Bill!

Basyle 'Boz' Tchividjian is the co-author of "Invitation - Billy Graham and the Lives God Touched," as well as the co-creator of  He lives in Lynchburg, Virginia where he is a professor of law at Liberty University School of Law.