Taking Up The Mantle
Anne Graham Lotz encourages us to pass our faith from generation to generation.
by DIANA CHANDLER
ANNE GRAHAM LOTZ didn’t realize she had missed anything growing up as the child of Billy Graham until she married and saw her husband, Danny Lotz, interact with their three children.
As a dentist, her husband was home mornings, sometimes making the children pancakes, or taking them to ballgames and track meets on Saturdays, or leading the family on rides on their tandem bike.
“I can never remember my father playing a game with me, or tucking me in bed at night, or fixing me a meal, or telling me a bedtime story. So those were the kinds of things my father didn’t do that my husband did [with our children],” she said. “It wasn’t until I was married and had children and saw the way my husband fathered our children that I realized what I’d missed. … I saw what a father could be and what he could do.”
Lotz is the second of five children born to Ruth and Billy Graham. Her father would spend months at a time preaching at crusades in the U.S. and abroad, traveling an estimated 65 percent of his time.
“But my father did things my husband hasn’t done — just the worldwide ministry and the people who’ve come to faith through him and … what he was about. As important as being a father is — and I don’t belittle that at all — I believe what God called [my father] to do was a very high calling.”
Lotz didn’t bemoan her father’s absence during his frequent evangelistic crusades because her mother modeled a love and selflessness that put God first. “There was never any complaining spirit, bitter spirit, resentful spirit at all, none, never,” Lotz said. “So because she supported him so wholeheartedly and because she just adored him, then I did too.”
A fervent evangelist herself, Lotz is founder and president of AnGel Ministries and an award-winning author. She released her latest book, Wounded by God’s People, last year. She debuted the radio broadcast “Living in the Light,” adding to her “Daily Living” spot. Mother of three grown children and grandmother of three, Lotz practices the love she learned from her late mother.
“I feel burdened to make sure we don’t drop the ball, that we pass on … our faith,” Lotz said. “We pass it to the next generation and the next generation, and we do that within our families because if you look at the world, that next generation is being lost. But at least for me and my house, we’ll have that legacy and that foundation from generation to generation.”
Lotz sees the work of the Holy Spirit in her children’s lives. Her son, Jonathan, is a preacher whom she describes as having her father’s platform presence and her father-in-law’s one-on-one intensity. Her oldest daughter, Morrow Reitmeier, serves on the AnGel Ministries prayer team and travels with Lotz as an assistant. Rachel-Ruth Wright, Lotz’s youngest daughter, is the mother of her three granddaughters, serves on a prayer team with Lotz, and is developing a teaching gift that has taken her mother by surprise.
“To see them in their own way take up that mantle and that commitment to serve Christ and to answer His call on their lives really is a blessing,” Lotz reflects.
The blessing has not come without struggles. Lotz had trouble conceiving her first child and began coupling prayer with fasting one day each week until God responded.
“And then one day I felt like God just let me know I was going to have a son. I didn’t have to fast anymore. I could start praising Him,” Lotz recalled. “I did, and … I gave birth to Jonathan. I’ve prayed for him … every day of his life, and my picture for his life did not include one divorce, much less two.”
Jonathan is in his third marriage. His relationship struggles have been troubling to Lotz, who wrote the 2004 book Why? Trusting God When You Don’t Understand. The book explores Jesus’ response to the death of Lazarus, His friend and the brother of Mary and Martha, to show that God works in mysterious ways.
“I just didn’t understand, and what God has taught me is we have to trust Him even when we don’t understand. Such a faith,” she said, “will withstand life’s storms and struggles.
“I’ve seen the storms come into their lives. And my son, along with the three marriages, has had life-threatening cancer. He’s gone through surgery, radiation, and the rest of it, but his faith has held,” she said.
“And my middle one who has some serious health issues — her faith has held.
“My youngest one not only has had health issues and some other huge problems, but now she’s stepping out to teach this class, and her faith holds. … So that’s a legacy my grandparents gave to my parents on both sides, and my parents have given to me that I would pass on to my children.”
Lotz entered ministry when the responsibilities and joys of motherhood and marriage began to interfere with her personal relationship with Jesus. She wanted more of the Lord and she began to teach a class with Bible Study Fellowship International.
Her parents discouraged her from entering the ministry. Lotz said, “They didn’t support it because Mother’s role in the home was to stay home and raise the children, and so she was applying that to me. But Daddy traveled. If she hadn’t stayed home, then we wouldn’t have had any parent.”
“I think it was the third year that they came [to the class]. I got up in the pulpit to teach my class and looked out one morning, and they were sitting in the audience. But they said later … that when they got to the class, it just blew them away that these people were sitting there; they were listening to God’s Word.
“And then afterward [my parents] were in my home,” Lotz said. “My home was clean; my children were the best behaved. So they just did a full turnabout. And from that day forward, they supported me.”
Lotz wrote the 2011 children’s book Heaven, God’s Promise for Me as a tool for parents and grandparents to use in leading young children to Christ.
“What a wonderful thing to know Jesus from childhood on. Now that’s passing on a treasure. To me, the greatest thing a parent or grandparent could give is to bring that child to faith when he’s little, so that he has a lifetime to grow and to learn and to bear fruit and to get to know Jesus.”
DIANA CHANDLER is general assignment writer/editor for Baptist Press.
This article originally appeared in Mature Living, October 2014. Subscribe.