Ruth Graham, the daughter of renowned evangelist Billy Graham, has agreed to lead a new seminary program for the Mississippi Department of Corrections.
MDOC Commissioner Burl Cain recently announced an agreement with Graham to start a 14-week program at the Central Mississippi Correctional Facility that began on Tuesday.
The program will be funded by private donors.
“Every week, Ruth Graham will lead three of our prison seminary programs about how to forgive,” Cain said in a news release. “In her acclaimed book, "Forgiving My Father, Forgiving Myself," she talks about having an absent parent and about what it means to forgive and move on.”
Billy Graham traveled the world with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association for over 50 years, leaving his family for weeks at a time.
“When I visited Angola Prison in Louisiana,” Ruth Graham said in the news release, "I had an experience with a death row inmate story that made me realize I needed to understand more about forgiveness in my own life. My father was often gone when I was growing up and though I adored him, my little girl’s heart read his absences as abandonment. That resulted in a deep sense of insecurity and many bad choices in my life. Once I discovered my ‘core’ issue, I was able to forgive myself, my father and even feelings that God had let me down. Now I live in the freedom of forgiveness, and I want to share it.”
Ruth Graham will teach 27 women seminary students at CMCF via Zoom while simultaneously broadcasting to seminary students at Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman.
“Forgiveness is the only real path to growth,” she said. “If you hold on to bitterness and anger, it is impossible to be happy.”
The 14-week program is being underwritten by Calvin Sutphin, founder of Catalyst Ministries of West Virginia.
MDOC seminary students will train with Graham over the summer term and will then lead satellite groups within prisons on the study of forgiveness.