Like mother, like daughter: Anne Graham Lotz and Rachel-Ruth Lotz Wright, the daughter and granddaughter of the late evangelist Billy Graham, are both Bible teachers and have both endured serious medical conditions.
Lotz and Wright even share the same social media posts. Each recently forwarded a video, recorded on an airplane, of a young evangelist declaring to his fellow passengers that “Jesus is coming back really soon.”
With their seemingly melded minds, it’s no wonder they would collaborate on writing projects together. Their second joint book, “Preparing to Meet Jesus: A 21-Day Challenge to Move from Salvation to Transformation,” is set to release on Aug. 8.
Lotz, 75, wrote the introduction and the epilogue and rounded off each of the 21 chapters with a prayer. Her daughter, 48, wrote about the book’s main focus, the character of the soon-to-be-bride Rebekah, found in the Bible’s Book of Genesis.
Lotz started AnGeL Ministries in 1988, creating Bible studies and daily devotions. Wright leads one of those Bible studies, which grew in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, to reach thousands of people online. Earlier this year, they traveled with 115 women on AnGeL Ministries’ tour of Israel, where Wright taught on Mount Carmel about the prophet Elijah and Lotz spoke from aboard a boat on the Sea of Galilee.
Lotz, a member of a Calvary Chapel church, and Wright, a member of a Southern Baptist congregation, talked with Religion News Service Tuesday about End Times, illness and whether there’s a succession plan in place for Lotz’s ministry.
The interview was edited for length and clarity.
Anne, someone just seeing the title “Preparing to Meet Jesus” might think it refers to your feeling you could be nearing the end of your life. Would that be correct or not?
Lotz: That would be right — I’m 75 — but I think it applies to Rachel-Ruth, who has had two back-to-back heart attacks. You never know when you’re going to step into eternity, and I also believe Jesus is soon to come back. So it could be through my death or it could be through the rapture, but I’m going to see him.
You mention in a recent interview that you’ve made a shift by preaching about End Times. How has your traditional audience responded to that emphasis in your message?
Lotz: I think people are fascinated right now with prophecy — what the Bible says about what’s going on today and where we’re headed. When I first felt like he (God) gave me the freedom to do that, it was about 10 years ago. One of the messages he’s laid on my heart now, and I put it at the end of this book, is Matthew 25, which is the story of the 10 young women — five of them were ready and five were not. We’re living at the end of history as we know it. And it’s time for us to get ready.
Why did the two of you choose the Genesis story of Rebekah, who is selected as the wife of Isaac, as a model for today’s Christians?
Wright: I was teaching Genesis in my Bible study, and I just love that chapter. And shortly after, I was invited to come speak at a bridal shower. I’d pulled out all these characteristics, just to share with the bride and then, we were thinking about the next book. I thought there were so many lessons we could see in Rebekah — it’s not like Rebekah is perfect. I felt like the Lord just downloaded each chapter each day, with the characteristics that we could just look inside of ourselves and see if we can do it better than we are.
You both have had medical challenges in recent years with Anne’s breast cancer diagnosis and Rachel-Ruth’s heart attacks.
Lotz: When I looked at my breast cancer — when I was first diagnosed — I felt very strongly that God had given me that as a platform for a broader testimony in ministry. Looking back, that’s exactly what he did. So I thank him for taking me through. I never want to go through chemotherapy again, but he brought me through and has been faithful, and Rachel-Ruth is sitting here. To be honest, it’s a miracle that she’s here because I stood beside her in the hospital. And I knew she was going. I mean, fast. And she was dying in front of my eyes. And God brought her back. And I have my fifth-year checkup, by the way, in September, so I’m hoping I’ll get a clean bill of health.
Wright: I had, a year and a half ago, two heart attacks called spontaneous coronary artery dissections. For four days, I had this chest pain and then went into the hospital and they said, “Oh, you’re having a heart attack.” And I had no idea. I was healthy, exercised. I thought it was acid reflux or something, but it was intense.
I had the first heart attack that Sunday morning, and they left me in the hospital, which was a miracle, because if I had gone home, I would have died for sure. But the next day the second one was a massive heart attack where one of my arteries shredded from top to bottom, and I was dying. My last prayer was: “Lord, just take care of my girls.” And God, I felt like he put his finger on my heart literally and all of a sudden, the blood came back and I could feel again and I could move and they rushed me to the OR, and I’ve got massive stents in my heart now.
Rachel-Ruth, you mentioned the influence of your grandfather Billy Graham in addressing your personal times of anxiety. Is that something that continues to this day?
Wright: I was having horrible chest pain again. I was, like, “Not again,” and the Lord brought a (Bible) verse to my mind. And so I was thinking about that verse and had just chosen to go to bed that night because I was just going to claim the verse that the Lord was going to take care of me. The next morning, I got up and read a verse out of (the Bible’s Book of) Isaiah. Then a friend of mine sent me a video of my grandfather in which he quoted those two verses. And I was so blown away because God used even the words of my grandfather, after he’d gone to heaven, to still minister to me, and that is the power of God’s word.
Anne, in a video Bible study based on your previous book, “Jesus Followers,” there was footage of the home where you grew up with your famous parents. Is that empty now?
Lotz: It is totally empty. I don’t think there’s even a folding chair. Maybe in the kitchen, there might be a folding chair. But there’s nothing in it. I love to use that as the basis for that Bible study. My father didn’t believe in possessions or material things. That’s not his legacy. His legacy is the legacy of faith and legacy of the gospel.
Rachel-Ruth serves on the board and chairs a weekly prayer team at AnGeL Ministries. Is there a succession process where Rachel-Ruth will one day be in charge of AnGeL Ministries?
Lotz: I’m going to leave that to the Lord. We’ve certainly talked about it. And the board of AnGeL Ministries is 150% behind Rachel-Ruth. The staff loves her. And so, if that time comes, then it’ll come. But right now she’s doing more and more.
Rachel-Ruth, is there an advantage of a mother and daughter in ministry together?
Wright: Well, it’s really like Paul and Timothy, where my mom has discipled me all these years. What she’s taught me and fed into me, is now coming out, as I speak. And I just, I feel like, with what you were talking about earlier, I have no aspirations to be somebody, to be the next person in ministry. I don’t care. And I probably get this from watching Mom: I just want to do what the Lord wants me to do and say what he wants me to say. I feel like he’s using a very weak vessel in me, but I know he’s called me, and it’s just a privilege to serve him.