'The Epitome of a Christian Woman'

A longtime friend of Ruth Graham says this woman of great faith also missed her husband deeply.

Joan Winmill Brown was an up-and-coming stage actress in London when the Harringay Arena hosted a Billy Graham crusade in 1954. Brown went to the arena with a friend, saying, "It would be a lark to see what this American has come to tell the British about religion." In spite of her skepticism, she walked down the aisle during the altar call. Ruth Bell Graham was the counselor who met her there and led her to Christ. "There was quite a bit of choreography going on," said Brown. "And I thank the Lord for that."

The event began a friendship that lasted 53 years and changed the course of Joan Winmill Brown's career. She came to America, married Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) executive and World Wide Pictures president William Brown, and became deeply involved with the BGEA and the Grahams. Joan Winmill Brown has written 18 books, including the autobiographical No Longer Alone, in which she describes her relationship with Ruth Graham.

The first time you met Ruth Graham was at the London revival. Did your impression of her change as you got to know her better?

I was more and more deeply impressed. Here was a woman who had tremendous responsibility with all the children and Billy away so much.

I made a movie for the Billy Graham [Evangelistic] Association, and they asked me to come over to the mainland and visit all the different cities it was being premiered in. I got so tired. Ruth said, "Come and stay with me for a month at Montreat." And that was the most wonderful month of my life. To see her, how she coped with everything. Her secret was, of course, God's Word. She had an open Bible in practically every room. And she'd say, "I can't have time alone first thing in the morning because the children all need help. But ...

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