Westmont Magazine Generations of Ministry
He was a scholar and a skilled administrator. She was an evangelist and spoke from her heart. He helped to establish some 40 churches and organized famine relief to feed the hungry. She wore Chinese clothing, ate native food and inspired trust and love.
James and Sophie Graham left Virginia for China in 1889 and lived in Jiangsu Province as missionaries until 1940. Their granddaughter, Mary Graham Reid ’43, compiled information about their fruitful partnership for the book, “Boxers to Bandits,” by Steve Fortosis, published by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. Mary had hoped to write their story herself, but she developed Parkinson’s disease and reluctantly passed the task to someone else. She had spent years collecting material and conducting interviews with people who knew the Grahams.
Growing up in China, Mary witnessed the impact her grandparents made there. Her father, James Graham III, was also a missionary to China and Taiwan. Ministry is a Graham family tradition: James Graham I was a well-known pastor in Winchester, Va., and Sophie’s father taught at a seminary. Mary and her husband, John Reid ’45, spent 36 years as missionaries with TEAM in Japan, where they helped establish Japan Christian College and plant churches in Yokosuka. Their daughter, Lou Anne Copeland, is a fourth-generation missionary in Kobe, Japan, and her daughter, Christina, is attending Bible school in Germany and considering a career in overseas missions. The Reids’ son, Dan, is a senior editor at InterVarsity Press.
Ruth Bell Graham isn’t related to the Grahams, but she remembers them fondly as they recruited her father to be the surgeon at Love and Mercy Christian Hospital. She wrote the foreword for the book. In a quote for the cover, she noted the Grahams’ influence on her life and praised “their remarkable sacrifice, their love for Jesus and for each other and their unwavering perseverance.”
Chinese evangelist Calvin Chao lived with the Grahams for three years. “I wanted to be a Christian like your grandmother and grandfather,” he told Mary in 1987. “They showed me the reality of God in their lives . . . [They] opened themselves and their lives to the Chinese.” He recalled their sacrificial giving to the poor and Sophie’s care for him while he was ill. “She was just like a mother to me,” he said. “When she walked on the streets I could see all the kids with dirty faces come and greet her. She really lived like a missionary should live before the people. She opened her house to help people.”