Waitress Susie Stevens was hoping work would wind down quickly so she could get to her yoga class in Charlotte, North Carolina. Then, at table three, a conversation about prayer caught her attention."We get a lot of business luncheons," Stevens says, "so when my customers are talking about something more interesting than turning a profit, I notice."Especially when the customer is 6'4" and speaks with clipped Ontario vowels, quite distinct from the local drawl. He was telling a younger fellow about prayer, Bible-reading, and how talking regularly with a spiritual director could lead to inner depth and fulfillment.That older customer was revival evangelist-turned-spiritual director Leighton Ford, and his spiritually seasoned conversation inadvertently set Stevens onto a new path. Growing restless with burning sage and sitting Zen, and intrigued by Ford's conversation, Stevens began a search that led to a spiritual director, Bible study, and drawing close to Jesus."I'm just an anonymous waitress Leighton Ford doesn't even remember, but he helped get me into a Christian relationship that was concerned with being close to God," Stevens says. "He totally changed the life of a stranger."Better known for his revival evangelism, sweaty preaching, and making thousands of new converts in a single night, Ford has traded in the pulpit for a quieter one-on-one ministry. After a globetrotting lifetime of service wherever God—and brother-in-law Billy Graham—called him, the 70-year-old Ford now spends most of his time listening to God's still, small voice. He prays for hours. He cultivates intimate relationships. Mostly, he says, he is learning to be a spiritual friend.

Moving on from BGEA

In 1955, Ford had finished seminary, married Graham's ...

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