Journalist Uncovers Powerful Letter President Reagan Wrote to Dying, Atheist Father-in-Law

Imagine being the most powerful man on earth, faced with more pressure and responsibility than anyone could even imagine, the fate of millions in your hands, and the eyes of the world on your every move.

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Would you take the time to reach out to a dying family member to share with them the validity of the Gospel, in hopes they would receive it before their time on earth expired?

Well, one former president did, and his letter has been discovered by Washington Post journalist Karen Tumulty. 

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Timulty found the letter among Reagan’s personal effects as she conducted research for a biography on Nancy Reagan, and was clearly struck by its content.

It was written in 1982 to Nancy’s father, Dr. Loyal Davis, a committed atheist who was vocal about his disbelief in Jesus, the virgin birth, resurrection, and heaven and hell.

As Davis neared the end of his life, Reagan clearly felt the urgency that Davis give Christ one last consideration.

Here is the letter:

Aug. 7 [1982]

Dear Loyal,

I hope you’ll forgive me for this, but I’ve been wanting to write you ever since we talked on the phone. I am aware of the strain you are under and believe with all my heart there is help for that.

First I want to tell you of a personal experience I’ve kept to myself for a long time. During my first year as Governor you’ll recall the situation I found in Calif. was almost as bad as the one in Wash. today. It seemed as if the problems were endless and insolvable.

Then I found myself with an ulcer. In all those years at Warner Bros., no one had been able to give me an ulcer and I felt ashamed as if it were a sign of weakness on my part. John Sharpe had me on Malox and I lived with a constant pain that ranged from discomfort to extremely sharp attacks.

This went on for months. I had a bottle of Maalox in my desk, my briefcase and of course at home. Then one morning I got up, went into the bathroom, reached for the bottle as always and some thing happened. I knew I didn’t need it. I had gone to bed with the usual pain the night before but I knew that morning I was healed. The Malox went back on the shelf.

That morning when I arrived at the office Helene brought me my mail. The first letter I opened was from a lady — a stranger — in the Southern part of the state. She had written to tell me she was one of a group who met every day to pray for me. Believe it or not, the second letter was from a man, again a stranger, in the other end of the state telling me he was part of a group that met weekly to pray for me.

Within the hour a young fellow from the legal staff came into my office on some routine matter. On the way out he paused in the door and said: “Gov. I think maybe you’d like to know — some of us on the staff come in early every morning and get together to pray for you.”

Coincidence? I don’t think so. A couple of weeks later Nancy and I went down to L.A. and had our annual checkup. John Sharpe, a little puzzled, told me I no longer had an ulcer but added there was no indication I’d ever had one. Word of honor — I never told him about that particular day in Sacramento.

There is a line in the bible — “Where ever two or more are gathered in my name there will I be also.”

Loyal I know of your feeling — your doubt but could I just impose on you a little longer? Some seven hundred years before the birth of Christ the ancient Jewish prophets predicted the coming of a Messiah. They said he would be born in a lowly place, would proclaim himself the Son of God and would be put to death for saying that.

All in all there were a total of one hundred and twenty three specific prophesys about his life all of which came true. Crucifixion was unknown in those times, yet it was foretold that he would be nailed to a cross of wood. And one of the predictions was that he would be born of a Virgin.

Now I know that is probably the hardest for you as a Dr. to accept. The only answer that can be given is — a miracle. But Loyal I don’t find that as great a miracle as the actual history of his life. Either he was who he said he was or he was the greatest faker & charlatan who ever lived. But would a liar & faker suffer the death he did when all he had to do to save himself was admit he’d been lying?

The miracle is that a young man of 30 yrs. without credentials as a scholar or priest began preaching on street corners. He owned nothing but the clothes on his back & he didn’t travel beyond a circle less than one hundred miles across. He did this for only 3 years and then was executed as a common criminal.

But for two thousand years he has … had more impact on the world than all the teachers, scientists, emperors, generals and admirals who ever lived, all put together.

The apostle John said, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that who so ever believed in him would not perish but have everlasting life.”

We have been promised that all we have to do is ask God in Jesus name to help when we have done all we can — when we’ve come to the end of our strength and abilities and we’ll have that help. We only have to trust and have faith in his infinite goodness and mercy.

Loyal, you and Edith have known a great love — more than many have been permitted to know. That love will not end with the end of this life. We’ve been promised this is only a part of life and that a greater life, a greater glory awaits us. It awaits you together one day and all that is required is that you believe and tell God you put yourself in his hands.

Love
Ronnie

Reagan is remembered as an incredibly effective political leader, but he was clearly a devoted evangelist and apologist as well.

Those kind of values are hard to come by these days.

 

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