God's Politics

God's Politics

Gabriel Salguero: An Ode to Ruth and Billy’s Love and Leadership

I was saddened to hear on the radio Thursday night that Ruth Bell Graham had died. Earlier in the week, the news of the serious complications to Ruth’s health had me reflecting on the importance of love and leadership. A lot has been written on leadership in the last several years, but not as much about how loving relationships anchor many of our leaders. Leadership, like the one Jesus modeled, is founded on love: a love of neighbor, friend, child, spouse, and enemy. The love between Billy and Ruth is just one example of how love drives and sustains leadership.
Before I was married, my wife Jeanette and I read biographies about Ruth and Billy. Ruth is an extraordinary woman, the daughter of missionaries to Asia and a committed disciple of Christ. Moreover, the extent of the sacrifices she has made both as missionary and as the spouse to one of Christ’s most well-known ambassadors will never be truly known. What is known is that the Ruth and Billy story is one that I can look up to as a young pastor and disciple of Christ. Jeanette often reminds me that what frees many of us to impact and transform the world is the love and safety of home. (Granted, many people who have changed the world did not grow up in this type of environment and have given incredible contributions to the world.)
Nevertheless, it is refreshing to know of a love story that lasted these many decades. Ruth’s commitment to Christ, her quiet strength, and her partnership with Billy made her a model worthy of admiration (though of course there are other models). Whether it is the female, the male, or both, who serve as public figures this idea of mutuality and respect for each other is at the very core of what commitment should be. In the midst of so much attention to broken marriages, scandal, and failure, it is also healthy that we give honor to a lifetime of loyalty, dedication, and grace. Undoubtedly, such a public marriage was challenged by time away from the kids and each other. Moreover, early on in his public ministry, Billy speaks of economic challenges. Despite these many challenges Ruth and Billy were able to stay together.
Just a couple weeks ago the Rev. Billy Graham was honored with the opening of the Billy Graham Library, and in true Graham fashion and humility he’s been quoted as saying, “Too much Billy Graham.” Well, one thing I am grateful for is a lot of Billy and Ruth, and the love, commitment, and dedication they showed an entire generation of emerging leaders. The words of Jesus are fitting here: “Well done, good and faithful servant.” So here’s to you, Ruth, a virtuous woman. Thank you for leading through love.

Rev. Gabriel Salguero is the pastor of the Lamb’s Church of the Nazarene in New York City, a Ph.D. candidate at Union Theological Seminary, and the director of the Hispanic Leadership Program at Princeton Theological Seminary. He is also a board member for Sojourners/Call to Renewal.

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posted June 18, 2007 at 9:31 pm

Thanks for this post. It’a about time we celebrated love and success. You may not get many hits because the topic is not controversial, but it’s one that is at the core of the gospel and our ontology. That’s the message, which is to be lived out more than spoken. “By this they will know you are my disciples, by the love you have one for another.” !Bendiciones!

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K E Alexander

posted June 18, 2007 at 11:45 pm

In an era of “news” which is obsessed with the likes of Paris and Anna Nicole; and the never-ending, never really “news” of war; it has been inspiring and life-giving to hear a story of real love and covenant-keeping. Thank you for bringing attention to this wonderful story.

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posted June 19, 2007 at 9:15 am

One of the stories that Billy told several times that I laughed at everytime I heard it was when a reporter asked him if at anytime in their marriage did they discuss divorce. Billy’s answer was “no – but I think Ruth has concidered murder.” I showed that there was humor between Ruth and Billy. I don’t want anyone to think that Ruth was just the one in the back-ground. Strong men attract and need strong women. Ruth was the glue that kept everything on the home-front together and I believe she was Billy’s greatest supporter in public and confidant in private.
Peace be to the memory of a great and wise women of God!
Have a great day –

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posted June 20, 2007 at 8:42 am

Just an observation –
A-N Smith dies and everyone is blogging their thoughts and prayers and by the time it dropped off the site there were I believe over 85 postings.
Days after this articale is written there are only 3 people that have posted – this could be enlightening about the majority of people that visit this site – Hmmmm.
Have a blessed day!

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carl copas

posted June 20, 2007 at 12:35 pm

Seems a stretch mod-lad. Maybe the reason why some didn’t post (true in my case anyway) was that there was little to add to this uplifting story.

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posted June 20, 2007 at 1:40 pm

Posted by: carl copas | June 20, 2007 12:35 PM
Seems a stretch mod-lad.
Not really – so many with Smith were expressing sorrow and saddness of every kind. Wish well to the little baby, her mother, etc. Finding something nice to say about her and her life and ‘talent’. Here is a woman that has written inspiring books on several topics. Made major statements on what it takes to do the work of an evangelists.
Be blessed!

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posted June 20, 2007 at 4:07 pm

We’re a nation of rubber-neckers. We slow down to get a good look at a traffic accident.
ANS was a tragedy in the sense that we created her and it destroyed her.
There is no tragedy in the case of Ruth Graham (far from it), so it’s not as ‘newsworthy.’

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posted June 20, 2007 at 4:48 pm

Posted by: neuro_nurse | June 20, 2007 4:07 PM
Great comment!
Sad comment on our soceity.
What did ANS contribute to the world (other than her chest) that made it a better place.
Have a great day!

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posted June 21, 2007 at 5:48 pm

Loved this article on Ruth and Billy’s love for one another. What a great example of how God can use a couple for His purposes. When I found out of Ruth’s death there was something within me that sank. Then I thought of Billy living without his love. She was a great example of a women in her special unique way. Each woman has that (a story and light) and I loved reading about Ruth’s story and her light. Her love of God.
I am sad that other stories seem to be more ‘note-worthy’ as far as media (sometimes sad reflection of our society) as some blogged about the ANS story…. but you know- she had light too. It was just destroyed my the media and who knows what else. Her story made me sad for her – not really wondering what or how she contributed to the world.

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posted August 2, 2007 at 3:25 pm

Is Pastor Gabriel Salguero “G-12″???

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