September 19, 2018
By Steve King
His hand-written, four-page letter on White House stationery to his dying father-in-law was compassionate and Christ-centered. The letter opened with a story of the president’s own healing from an ulcer after many people prayed for him. It transitioned to Jesus Christ and how He fulfilled over one hundred Old Testament prophecies, was born of a virgin, claimed to be the Son of God, died on a cross, and had incredible influence in the world. It closed by quoting John 3:16, an appeal to trust in Christ, and a reminder of the promise of everlasting love if you believe and put yourself in His hands.
Ronald Reagan’s August 7, 1982 letter to his father-in-law, Loyal Davis, became public knowledge on September 14, 2018, thanks to Karen Tumulty, a columnist with the Washington Post. Tumulty was working on a biography of Nancy Reagan and came across the letter in a cardboard box of Nancy’s personal effects. Tumulty quoted the letter with the permission of the Ronald Regan Presidential Foundation and Institute.
The letter was never intended for public consumption. It was a loving appeal from a believer in Christ to his father-in-law to trust in Jesus Christ before his death. There is evidence that the letter had an impact. Nancy Reagan–who was with her father when he died and who saved the letter—would later claim that her father did turn to God at the end of his life. Two days before his death on August 19, 1982, Davis sought out a hospital chaplain and prayed with him. Nancy said, “I noticed he was calmer and not as frightened.”
Regardless of your political views, we can all learn something from Reagan’s example. Jesus commanded His followers to make disciple of all people (Matthew 28:18-20) and He sent the Holy Spirit to empower us to be witnesses of Him (Acts 1:8). If the most powerful man in the world would put everything aside, take pen in hand, and set out on an urgent mission to rescue one soul, why can’t we do the same?
Ninety percent of those who place their faith in Jesus Christ do so through the influence of a friend, relative, associate, or neighbor. Let’s all pray for, love, and serve those in our circle of influence and join Jesus on His mission.