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President Ronald Reagan made one last effort to convert his dying father-in-law in hopes that he would accept Christ in his life.
A lost handwritten letter revealed from 1982 shows Reagan quoting Scripture, pointing to Old Testament prophecy and using apologetics while pleading with his atheist father-in-law in an attempt to save him.
“We have been promised that all we have to do is ask God in Jesus’ name to help when we have done all we can – when we’ve come to the end of our strength and abilities and we’ll have that help.” Reagan wrote Aug. 7, 1982 right when his father-in-law, Loyal Davis was near death. “We only have to trust and have faith in His infinite goodness and mercy.”
This letter was recently discovered by Washington Post columnist Karen Tumulty while working on a biography of Reagan’s wife.
This letter was not included in presidential records in the Ronald Reagan Library but was found in a cardboard box of Nancy Reagan’s personal effects, Tumulty shared.
Davis, a neurosurgeon had said before that he didn’t believe in the divinity of Christ, the virgin birth, or heaven and hell. The letter from Reagan was written two years into his first term.
“I know of your feeling – your doubt but could I just impose on you a little longer? Some seven hundred years before the birth of Christ the ancient Jewish prophets predicted the coming of a Messiah,” Regan wrote. “They said he would be born in a lowly place, would proclaim himself the Son of God and would be put to death for saying that.”
“All in all there were a total of one hundred and twenty-three specific prophesies about his life all of which came true. Crucifixion was unknown in these times, yet it was foretold that he would be nailed to a cross of wood. And one of the predictions was that he would be born of a virgin.”
“Now I know that it is probably the hardest for you as a Dr. to accept. The only answer that can be given is – a miracle,” Reagan wrote. “Either he was who he said he was or he was the greatest faker and charlatan who ever lived. But would a liar and faker suffer the death he did when all he had to do to save himself was admit he’d been lying?”
Reagan wrote that the miracle is “that a young man of 30 years without credentials as a scholar or priest began preaching on street corners” and changed the world.
“He owned nothing but the clothes on his back and he didn’t travel beyond a circle less than one hundred miles across. He did this for only 3 years and then was executed as a common criminal. But for two thousand years, he had had more impact on the world than all teachers, scientists, emperors, generals and admirals who ever lived, all put together. The apostle John said, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever believed in him would not perish but have everlasting life.”
“We have been promised that all we have to do is ask God in Jesus’ name to help when we have done all we can – when we’ve come to the end of our strength and abilities and we’ll have that help,” Reagan wrote. “We only have to trust and have faith in his infinite goodness and mercy.”
In the beginning of the letter, Reagan had referenced an example from his own life that he believe was an example of the power of prayer. He had suffered from a painful ulcer as governor of California and was ordered by a doctor to take Maalox regularly.
“The one morning I got up, went into the bathroom, reached for the bottle [of Maalox] as always and something happened. I knew I didn’t need it. I had gone to be with the usual pain the night before but I knew that morning I was healed.”
When Reagan opened his mail at work at morning, he read tons of letters from constituents who had been praying for his health and healing. He believed this outpouring of prayer and love was what made the miracle difference.
When Reagan went back to the doctor for his checkup visit, the doctor was puzzled, Reagan wrote. Not only was the ulcer gone but the doctor said there was no indication that he had ever had the ulcer in the first place, he said.
“Coincidence? I don’t think so,” Reagan wrote. “There is a line in the Bible – ‘Where ever two or more are gathered in my name there I will also be.”
Towards the end of the letter, Reagan referenced the love his father-in-law and his wife had for one another.
“We’ve been promised this is only a part of life and that a greater life, a greater glory awaits us. It awaits you together one day, and all that is required is that you believe and tell God you put yourself in his hands.”
What an incredible reflection of Reagan’s faith and commitment to saving his father-in-law in his dying days.