Dr. Ben Graham is not a loner. He does not minister in a vacuum or reside in a holy bubble. He’s real life—and a lot of it.
Graham is a fifth-generation preacher and evangelist, an actor, singer, and movie producer, and now a cancer fighter. He’s the oldest of eight siblings (four brothers and three sisters), all in some form of ministry. This Lebanon, TN resident husband and father stepped into a preaching career but is quick to say he didn’t take those steps alone. The Lord’s leading and his family have had major roles.
Graham surrendered to preach less than a year after he gave his life to the Lord. He says, “At the age of 14, I began to feel like I wanted to be a preacher. My brothers and I were singing in a Christian group when God began calling me to speak. Of course, I was still a 14-year-old boy and liked pretty girls,” he admits.
Pastor Graham recalls an early decision: “I knew I had a chance to play basketball on a scholarship, but I needed to do what God wanted me to do, and ministry was my calling! I went to seminary instead.” He went on to earn a Doctorate of Temperament Counseling and is a licensed counselor.
Dr. Graham and his wife Candice have four boys: Jordan, Zach, Carson, and Cooper who have traveled with them to many of their meetings as well as to visit shut-ins and others in need.
Graham describes his family’s involvement in ministry: “Candice has worked alongside me since the beginning—from our serving the youth together the first two years of our marriage to her being a wonderful pastor’s wife for the 20 years I’ve served as a senior pastor. For our 22 plus years of marriage, she has been by my side, including traveling with me to 47 of the 50 states I’ve preached in and many foreign countries. Our boys have joined our family since they were young, singing and serving with us.”
Being a radio host in his radio program airing on stations across the United States and online around the world as well as an actor and producer in multiple movies and commercials, including lead acting roles in the movies Fearless Faith and Pardon by Grace has kept him scrambling.
Among the several boards he has served on are SWAT (Sports World Against Trafficking) and LTI (Let’s Talk Interactive). He helps combat the opioid and addiction crisis by working with various organizations. He is co-founder of the Faith Based Initiative App.
Involved in local and state politics, Graham has served as a chaplain with the TN State Guard, the Roane County Sheriff Department, and the York City Police Department. Serving at the White House under President Trump, he also worked with the Faith and Opportunity team.
In 2012 Graham felt the Lord calling him to Nashville to start a church: Music City Baptist Church held its grand opening February 2013. Today, the Music City main campus is in Mt. Juliet, TN where Graham is senior pastor.
Graham Family Films Emerge
Needing a whole family for a commercial four months after the Graham family moved to Tennessee, a director invited the whole family to be extras in a film shot in the old hospital in Madison. That invitation led to Graham’s getting into the film business with his brothers, starting Graham Family Films in 2015. Several films are scheduled for release in 2021 and 2022. Graham has acted in and produced a dozen family friendly movies streaming on Prime Video and sold as DVDs. He acts in many of the films, but his major role in the company is executive producer.
Graham explains, “The film business is a different kind of ministry outside the church. We learned we could minister through films and movies. And, yes, it was a big leap of faith at the time.”
In November 2020, Graham Family Films released Miracle on Christmas which was shot in Michigan. “Our films are family friendly but are not all necessarily faith based,” he says. “Our goal is to provide good family entertainment. There’s just not enough of that. During the pandemic, people are home more, and the sale of films is up. In a world filled with despair, our family films are filled with hope and encouragement and are a reminder of why we continue to smile.”
Pastor Graham’s career has many facets, one of which is a natural extension to writer. As a licensed counselor holding a Doctorate of Temperament in Counseling, Ben has written four books. He has authored numerous faith books, the latest being 1948—Countdown to a Day of Reckoning. In this novel he explores the connection between the return of Israel to its homeland and the return of the Messiah. He searches what a fateful date in 1948 means for Christians today and what happens as the Rapture and Second Coming approach.
Joining a group of pastoral leaders at the White House for briefings with the administration and staff from the summer of 2018 to December of 2020, Graham was involved in Washington as part of the White House Faith and Opportunity Team. “I guess you could say I’ve taken a non-traditional route in ministry, but I’ve tried to do a lot and hopefully uplift many people.”
With so many capacities and callings on his life, how does Dr. Ben Graham balance them all? He has a prayerful systemic approach to life that carries him through. He says, “Priority is one of the most important things I seek to keep in my life. I begin with the most important. Every Sunday afternoon I prioritize my to-do list for the week to guide my schedule: 1. relationship with the Lord; 2. relationship with my wife; 3. relationship with my boys; 4. ministry at the church I pastor; 5. outreach ministry; 6. businesses; 7. hobbies / fun.
“Every week my wife and I have a date night even if it’s going to the grocery store without the kids and then grabbing coffee. We try to spend time keeping our relationship strong and also have a family day or night every week. Sometimes it’s a drive on the country roads; sometimes it’s playing board games; or on occasion it’s bigger events.
Life Holds Together
If Christian values and goals truly do hold top priority in Graham’s life, surely God’s Word takes precedence. He relates some difficult times and the glue that has held him and his family together: “I have claimed Proverbs 3:5-6 as my life verse since I was 14. It says, Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths.” Far from being easy, that proverb is a necessity for God’s guidance.
“In 2007 Candice had a second miscarriage when she was six months pregnant with our son. The verse that helped us through that was 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles.
“In 2019 after I had a heart attack, we received comfort through Psalm 31:24, Be of good courage, and He will strengthen your heart, all that hope in the Lord.”
Then, in 2020-21, Ben became intimately familiar with 2 Corinthians 4:16. He relates, “I felt sick in February and March but was traveling so much I figured that was the problem. Instead, I learned I had cancer on a kidney, leading to major surgery. For this cause we faint not; though our outward man perish, the inward man is renewed day by day became my lifeline.” Graham says his “future will be a different normal,” and he hopes to create and produce more film series, as well as expand his outreach.
After so many varied life experiences and trials, surely godly wisdom has accrued. What words of wisdom does Pastor Ben have for the Nashville Christian Family readership? He empathizes, “So many of us battle anxiety and stress and wonder what is next. Our days are filled with noise—they’re hectic and busy with no slowing down in site. We run wide open with little choosing to honor God by being still, recognizing He is God.
“With so many crazy things happening, people are fearful and grasp for answers. We need to be still, to remember He is God and that He is still on His throne. When we do, we can know that the peace that surpasses all understanding will guard [our] hearts and minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6).”
Truly, only one kind of peace lasts. Jesus says, Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid (John 14:27).
https://www.christianfamilynashville.com/3795acf7-7e3f-4b1d-9159-f5538a24e782″ width=”42″ height=”62″ />Sheila E. Moss: author of Living to Matter: Mothers, Singles, and the Weary and Broken; Interrupting Women: Ten Conversations with Jesus; and international publications from teaching Bible and Christian ethics in Africa, Ukraine, and Venezuela; teacher of Bible classes for over 35 years; mother of three daughters and two sons; and grandmother of eleven grandchildren