As a popular destination in Charlotte, North Carolina, the Billy Graham Library draws people from far and wide. Regardless of why they come, visitors hear the message Billy Graham loved to share: the Good News of salvation in Jesus Christ.
Billy Graham once said, “Death is not the end of the road—it is merely a gateway to eternal life beyond the grave.” After the evangelist’s passing on Feb. 21, 2018, he was laid to rest in the Library’s Memorial Prayer Garden, right beside his wife, Ruth Bell Graham.
When they stop by his gravesite, many visitors are faced with the important question, “Where will I spend eternity after I die?” Billy Graham Rapid Response Team (BG-RRT) chaplains are regularly available in the Prayer Garden for anyone who wants to talk or pray.
Over the years, volunteer chaplains have talked and prayed with thousands who visit the gravesite.
One Man Made a Life-Changing Pit Stop
Chaplains learn early on that everyone has something they’re dealing with in life.
In February, a trucker stopped along his route and came to the Library. He didn’t know who Billy Graham was and had many questions about the Library.
As he chatted with BG-RRT chaplain Jennifer Hecker at the gravesite, he began to ask deep questions about the Bible and God. He had been searching for answers for a long time.
Hecker said the man felt insignificant as he wondered why the Creator of the world would want anything to do with him. She explained the Gospel and how he could have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. The man prayed right there to accept Jesus as his Savior.
Thinking back at how the man “just happened” to stop by the Library that day, Hecker said, “That was just so God-orchestrated.”
Encouragement and Prayer at the Perfect Time
Chaplains Bob and Ruthie Cooper have made the 90-minute drive to the Library from their South Carolina home each month since the gravesite ministry started in 2018.
On a recent Friday, three young men came to the Library. Bob and Ruthie were able to pray for them and witness Christ’s perfect timing. Bob prayed specifically for their future spouses to be godly women and for His divine leading in that area of their lives.
After praying, Bob recalled, “This big ol’ strapping guy had tears coming down his face.” The young man had just broken up with his longtime girlfriend because their relationship was pulling him away from Christ, and he took Bob’s prayer as confirmation from God that he had made the right decision.
“We had touched on a need,” Bob said. “God did that.”
Ruthie remarked how refreshing it is “to just stand back and watch what God does, because we don’t have the answers, but He does.”
A Chance to Pray With the Hurting
Over the past five years, the Lord has provided many opportunities for Bob and Ruthie to minister to people at the gravesite.
As Ruthie was about to leave her post one day, a devastated mother stopped by to request prayer for her daughter she hadn’t heard from in three years.
With tears flowing, the mother shared how she didn’t even know if her wayward child was still alive. Ruthie comforted her and reminded her about the Bible story of the prodigal son in Luke 15. Together, they prayed for her daughter to return home.
More recently, another mom approached Bob and Ruthie with her toddler in tow. The young woman is from Russia and shared that she and her husband know the Lord and committed to fast and pray every Friday until the war ends. She asked for prayer to persevere and see what the Lord does.
The woman was extremely concerned for her mother who lives near the Ukrainian border and refuses to leave. Ruthie and Bob were delighted to pray with her, asking God to sustain her and work through this long-term commitment to the Lord. They also prayed for protection over her mother and other relatives in Russia.
Bob encourages other believers to pray for more opportunities and open hearts as God continues to do wonderful things at the gravesite.
“It’s the same lesson that we have learned over and over as chaplains,” he reflected. “For anything significant that happens [at the gravesite], God does all the work—every bit of it.”