When Cissie Graham Lynch speaks to women gathered for the 5th Annual Ladies Tea and Tour on April 28, she’ll have one foot in familiar territory and the other planted on new ground.
As the granddaughter of Billy Graham and daughter of Franklin Graham, Cissie has frequented the Library’s historic exhibits—which guests can tour before or after the Tea—on more than one occasion.
But it never gets old.
“Every time I visit, I’m in tears,” said Cissie in a recent interview. “I’ve learned something new and I’m inspired to take the Gospel to the ends of the earth.”
And while she realizes that those “ends” can take on a variety of flavors these days—”your neighborhood, Africa, or the NFL (her husband, Corey Lynch, plays professional football)—you’re inspired to do just that after visiting the Library,” she said.
As for breaking new ground April 28, Cissie will be speaking to age groups she has never addressed. Her popular personal blog as well as Ransom.TV, a BGEA website she manages, primarily attract young adults.
“At the Tea,” said 26-year-old Cissie, “we’ll have grandmothers, mothers and some teens. I want to take my experience and help them at whatever age or season they are in currently, and help them find what the Lord has called them to do. I want each woman to find joy in whatever stage she is in now.”
Cissie has learned in her experiences with different cultures—she has crossed the globe with her father, Franklin, and on her own—that most women struggle with their identity and with what God has called them to do.
“For those of us who have jobs, we sometimes don’t feel adequate. For those of us who are wives, some of us have lost our identities to our husbands. I, myself, in the first few years of my marriage, really struggled because I went from being ‘Franklin Graham’s daughter’ to ‘Corey Lynch’s wife.’ I didn’t see my purpose.”
Scripture is clear that women play very important roles, Cissie pointed out. “We play important roles in society, in our homes, our marriages and our relationships. Through our time together, I want to encourage women of any age to do what Scripture has told us to do.”
Time to Take Off Masks
The annual event, which has also featured Cissie’s Aunt Gigi Graham and Great Aunt Jean Graham Ford, is a time for women to share each other’s experiences—which Cissie feels is vitally important. “We need to know that we’re not alone. Many of us put on happy faces when we are hurting inside.
“We all have our secrets and our dirty laundry that we shouldn’t be ashamed of. Satan is real. He’s attacking our soul. We need to encourage one another and pray for one another.”
Her passion for encouraging women of her generation fuels Cissie’s work with Ransom and her writing: “Many people call this the ‘generation of tomorrow,’ but this is the generation of today. We have young people all the time leaving the church. They might have grown up there, but many of them go off to college and get out of their routine and start asking questions. Their minds have been filtered through so many things, and as a result, they are losing church and losing truth.”
She believes that Christians need to be able to answer the tough questions of today. “People doubt that there is a God because of losses, fear or doubt. They are struggling with sin in their life. Ministries need to be targeting this generation.”
In her work, Cissie hears from young women who are lost and searching for truth in relationships, professors, school and books. “We, as Christians, need to be taking the truth to these people, by every means, whether it is through Ransom.tv or the Internet.”
Part of Cissie’s appeal to her audience is her transparency about her own life. “I struggled for years with an eating disorder,” she shared with her readers. “It took me years to overcome it. It took constant prayer, getting on my knees, saying, ‘Lord, help me to see myself through Your eyes and not my own.’
“The secular world, whether Hollywood or media, portrays skinny women,” she explained. “But when a woman shows up too skinny with an eating disorder, the world says, ‘shame on them.’ They portray wealth, but when someone declares bankruptcy, the world says, ‘shame on them.’ The world is teaching us to crave all these things in life, but when we crave them and go too far, the world tears us down.”
Cissie noted that it’s easy to get caught in the trap of selfish desire: “When I had my own disorder, I was the first thing I thought about in the morning and in the evening. I counted my calories and would think about what I ate and what I did to work out.”
She finally conquered her disorder while serving in Thailand for a semester. Her minutes and hours were consumed with helping kids, and the Lord brought a woman into her life who taught Cissie about sacrificing herself for others.
“That’s where I found my healing,” she said. “It wasn’t overnight. I wasn’t serving myself; I was serving others and the Lord. Any addiction—drugs, alcohol, sex— is about you, not others.”
And while her honest revelations have resonated with many young women, Cissie humbly points out, “This is not my story. It’s about what God has done in my life. My purpose is to tell His story, not my own.”
Learn about Cissie’s work with the Children’s Heart Project on this DVD »
Although the 2012 Ladies Tea and Tour with Cissie Graham Lynch is sold out, you can be added to a waiting list by calling 704-401-3251 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. The cost is $25.
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