Curt Flewelling, FISM News
The former home of world-renowned evangelist Billy Graham and his wife, Ruth, is now a retreat for pastors and missionaries in need of rest, reflection, and rejuvenation.
The charming mountain estate, repurposed as Billy’s Home Place Ministry, was the very site where Reverend Graham and his wife raised their four children during the early days of his ministry.
The restoration of the Grahams’ home was made possible by a collaborative effort on the part of businessman Stephen L. Thomas, actor Kirk Cameron, and Graham’s daughter Ruth. In keeping with the Grahams’ spirit of Christ-like giving, a stay at the retreat will be free of charge for pastors, missionaries, and their families, who have been in ministry service for at least 20 years.
PASTORS IN NEED OF REST
The Grahams and their partners in the project recognize that pastors and missionaries are on the front lines of spiritual warfare and often report being dispirited and dejected.
The percentage of pastors who have considered leaving the ministry continues to rise sharply. In a study by the Barna Group, 42% of pastors reported that they considered stepping away from the pulpit from March 2021 to March 2022.
Barna also reported that 35% of pastors in America are considered “unhealthy” in terms of their spiritual, physical, emotional, vocational, and financial well-being. With sobering numbers like these, places like Billy’s Home Place become vitally important.
The ministry’s website says that their “goal is simple: To help everyone who steps into Billy and Ruth’s original home, apply the same truths of God’s word to each of our lives. So, like Billy, we can change the world around us!”
The interesting thing that some have noted about the retreat is its delightfully humble feel. Although Reverend Graham eventually attained global success, it was within this simple dwelling that Billy Graham penned his first sermons on a kitchen table.
The hope of the Graham family is that pastors in need of spiritual renewal can rest, reflect and pray, in the very same modest home of perhaps America’s greatest evangelist of all time.
Dr. Graham once famously said, “God has given us two hands, one to receive with and the other to give with.” These words are the embodiment of Billy’s Home Place. A wonderful sanctuary where weary men and women of Christ are invited to rest and retool at no cost to them.
The hope is that guests will leave this special place with a closer connection to God and better equipped to serve Him.
EDITOR’S BIBLICAL ANALYSIS
In 3 John, the author praises those who “walk in the truth” (v. 3), going on to write,
Beloved, you do faithfully whatever you do for the brethren and for strangers, who have borne witness of your love before the church. If you send them forward on their journey in a manner worthy of God, you will do well, because they went forth for His name’s sake, taking nothing from the Gentiles. We therefore ought to receive such, that we may become fellow workers for the truth. – 3 John 1:5-8
John is instructing and encouraging the people of God to be welcoming and show sacrificial love to those who testify of Christ’s love as seen through the actions of the church. Ultimately, we are to welcome brothers and sisters in Christ, even strangers, in order that we may “send them forward on their journey in a manner worthy of God.”
By opening the Graham family’s former home to ministers who have dedicated many years to God’s mission, this organization is obeying this command. In order for ministers to continue “in a manner worthy of God,” they need rest. They need retreat with their family and with their spouses. They need time and space to focus on listening to God and preparing for the next spiritual battle.
I believe that many Christian property owners could take note here and find ways to offer spaces they own to brothers and sisters in Christ in need of refuge and rest. Those who don’t have such a place can still seek to be welcoming in other ways. Make a meal for a neighbor. Offer to babysit your minister’s kids for a night or take them to the park on a Saturday. Offer personal or business services to ministers at no cost.
You can get creative in the ways you use your skills and resources to provide rest, restoral, and encouragement to brothers and sisters in Christ. Just remember to look to Christ as your example.
Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus, that you may with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore receive one another, just as Christ also received us, to the glory of God. – Romans 15:5-7