missionary

Growing up a Billy Graham Groupie

It's funny how many young people I speak with whom love the Beatles or the Rolling Stones. Sure, it's classic rock-n-roll but it's not like their songs are played over the radio waves or in restaurants these days and therefore in their every day consciousness. More than likely, their parents are/were huge fans back in their youth. Often these young people grew up hearing stories of amazing concerts or have listened to their parents' collection of vinyls or cds and their testament that the band was "the greatest of all time!"

In my young missionary-kid existence, things were a little different. My parents went to "The Jesus People" concerts (not kidding! they were a quartet of two young women and two young men who sang under that moniker). And they also attended the Billy Graham Crusade when the reverend came to Taipei, Taiwan in 1975. 

There's no denying the man's impact on the world. He was an evangelist that never forgot his vocation, taking his mission--to spread the word and love of God--to every corner of the globe. And in his 5 decades+ ministry, he managed to reach 185 countries and 215 million people. He had personal relationships with every president from Truman to Obama. And yet he was the evangelist who never tried to profit from followers, nor build a megachurch, nor run for president. He was not a womanizer but was married to his wife, Ruth, for 63 years until she passed in 2007. 

No man is perfect, but I feel the Reverend Billy Graham was an amazing role model for us today. And that's why I'm okay with admitting I was kind of groupie for that humble, non-self-serving man of God. And as a member of the Billy Graham fan club, let me share a few fun facts about the man of which you may or may not be aware:

  1. His birthday is November 7. And so is mine!
  2. His wife's name is Ruth. And so is mine!
  3. Ruth was raised a child of missionaries in Asia. Me too!
  4. Billy was a southern boy, born in North Carolina. I was born in Kentucky!
  5. He loved McDonald's. Oops, not me, but maybe when I was a child?

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." John 3:16 (Rev. Billy Graham's favorite Bible verse)

Dad is center, shaking the Reverend's hand and my cute, chic mother is on the left of Dad.

Dad is center, shaking the Reverend's hand and my cute, chic mother is on the left of Dad.

A Taiwanese girl makes Southern Fried Chicken...Happy Mother's Day, Mom!

My parents met in Taiwan when my father, Tom, was a young zealous missionary who could not speak the local language but knew he had a message to share. “Frank” was his interpreter until my father acquired mastery of the Taiwanese dialect and during their acquaintance, Frank introduced him to his family including his sister, Sadako.  Tom was immediately smitten and she quite taken with the handsome Westerner.  Their courtship is another story entirely.  But as the story regards the food that I grew up eating, Tom brought Sadako to the United States after they were married in order to finish his seminary studies.  They lived in Kentucky for a number of years, giving birth and raising 3 children while my father earned his Masters of Divinity. During that time, my mother learned to cook a number of Southern dishes which were entirely foreign to her but she wanted so to please her new American husband.
To this day, I have not tasted anyone’s homemade Fried Chicken that can rival her’s.  It’s a simple recipe involving a brown paper sack and it is fried perfection. (Dean Fearing and I once had a very polite disagreement about who made the better chicken and we learned that we use the same method: his grandmother also taught him to use a paper sack and she was from Kentucky!)   These days I most often make Fried Chicken for a picnic to be served cold with champagne on a lazy afternoon.

I think that I am adventurous in the kitchen but my mother was a true model of courage. Can you imagine leaving everything you know and love and coming to a foreign country with strange dishes and customs? And then embracing the difference and trying to adapt to a way of life without fulling understanding even the language? This week’s Menu is a tribute to my brave Taiwanese mother.

mom

I love this picture. I don’t remember my mother being silly on many occasions so this image is priceless. I think her expression embodies a cheeky attitude that says “I know what I’m doing.” Love you, Mom!

p.s. I’m the big mouth – shocker!