8th March, 2016

Will Graham, grandson of world renowned evangelist Billy Graham, returned to China last month as part of celebrations in the city of Huai'an marking 100 years since his great-grandparents landed there and commenced what would be 25 years of ministry.

Mr Graham said it was an emotional time for him. "My great-grandparents gave so much to spend more than two decades offering the hope of Christ in this city," he said. "I feel like I'm harvesting the seeds that I did not sow. People are coming to Christ today because of my great-grandparents' sacrifice a century ago."

Medical missionaries Dr L Nelson Bell and his wife Virginia landed in China 100 years ago and Dr Bell took up a post at the Love and Mercy Hospital in what was then known as Qingjiang, located almost 500 kilometres north of Shanghai. During their time in China, Virginia Bell gave birth to five children, including their second child Ruth McCue Bell, who would eventually attend Wheaton College in Illinois where she met and married Billy Graham. Ruth Graham passed away in 2007.

"Even today, the people of the city consider my grandmother to be Chinese," said Will Graham, who has visited China twice before. "There has always been an incredible mutual love between the Bells and the people of China."

Mr Graham preached several times during his visit - including to more than 2,500 people at the Huai'an Christian Church, and also met with US diplomats and Chinese officials as well as Christian leaders.

~ www.bgea.org

- DAVID ADAMS