“Know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all
the fullness of God.” —Ephesians 3:19, ESV
The past four decades have been a blessing to Denise, a faithful donor to the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA). Forty-five years ago she made a decision that changed the course of her life. A decision that affected the way she loved her husband, raised her stepchildren and even trickled down to her six grandkids.
In 1975, Denise was in her 20s and a single mom living in Illinois. Three months earlier her son Shane was born with severe special needs. Then her husband up and left. It was a lot to deal with.
And Denise’s self-esteem took yet another blow. She’d grown up in an abusive home and now felt unloved and alone again.
From the TV, Billy Graham’s words spoke to her spirit. She listened intently as he told about how Christ died for her sins—for everyone’s sin—and how His sacrifice and resurrection meant she finally had a real hope. And that Hope would never leave her.
“I said the sinner’s prayer and cried and cried,” Denise remembered. “I felt a weight lifted off me. That’s when I knew that I was truly saved.”
Denise began reading the Bible and sought Christian counseling. “It gave me hope, which I did not have,” she said.
The next year she married Bob Wright and became a stepmom to two children. The blended family grew in their faith while the couple cared for Shane. With severe seizures, he was never able to walk or talk and passed away at age 15.
Looking back, the 68-year-old retired nurse acknowledges God was always there—from her mom locking her out of the house in the winter, to losing Shane, to supporting Bob through seven bouts of cancer.
Now she’s just grateful. “I am set free,” she said. “Those scars are always there but they’re not open wounds and bleeding. I praise God for that.”
Through the years, Denise continued to watch Billy Graham preach and thought of him and Ruth Graham as family in Christ. “Without good role models in my own parents, they were so refreshing and loving.”
Today Denise boldly shares her faith in her everyday life. She and Bob also support others who spread the Good News, giving monthly to the BGEA.
“This ministry opens up my eyes to the things of the world,” she shared. “[BGEA] preaches the Word unadulterated … and helps people all over the world.
“We see the work … and we also see the compassion and the love. And it’s never wavered; it continues on.”