A recently discovered 1982 letter penned by Ronald Reagan shows the former president urged his dying atheist father-in-law to accept Christ into his heart.
The letter, unearthed by Washington Post columnist Karen Tumulty, shows Reagan reached out to Loyal Davis, Nancy Reagan’s father, hoping that he would give his life to God in his last days. Throughout the letter, dated August 7, 1982, Reagan addresses the miracles of Christ, including the virgin birth and the Old Testament prophecies fulfilled by his crucifixion.
“Loyal, you and (wife) Edith have known a great love – more than many have been permitted to know,” Reagan wrote. “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.”
“The most powerful man in the world put everything else aside, took pen in hand and set out on an urgent mission — to rescue one soul,” Tumulty wrote of the letter.
On August 19, 1982, Davis, a well-known neurosurgeon, passed away.
According to Tumulty, President Reagan wrote the letter to his father-in-law because he was worried about his soul and his eternal life. Tumulty came across the private letter when she was given access to Nancy Reagan’s personal effects, as she was writing a biography on the first lady. After she found the 36-year-old letter, the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library gave her rights to post the letter and republish it for her column.
“Dear Loyal,” the president wrote, “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.”
Reagan shared with his father-in-law how, due to prayer, he believed that he had been healed of a horrible stomach ulcer while he was the governor of California. He detailed the various excruciating symptoms he had, and how they had all disappeared miraculously one day.
On the day that Reagan’s ulcer ceased, he opened two separate letters from strangers detailing that they had prayer groups gathered in his name.
Just a few short moments later, one of Reagan’s young staffers told him that he as well as other staff members had prayed for him early each morning.
“Governor, 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,” the staffer told him.
“Coincidence?” Reagan wrote to his father-in-law. “I don’t think so.”
Not only did Reagan’s pain from the ulcer disappear, but all remnants of the ulcer did as well. When he went in to see his doctor weeks later, he told Reagan that you would have had no idea he had ever even had one.
“There is a line in the Bible: Where ever two or more are gathered in my name there will I be also,” Reagan wrote.
“Loyal I know of your feeling – your doubt but could I just impose on you a little longer?” he continued.
Reagan proceeds to detail how the Bible held 123 Old Testament prophecies about Christ’s life which all came true when Jesus eventually walked the earth, 700 years after his birth was predicted.
Reagan believed the hardest miracle for Loyal to believe was that Jesus was born to a virgin, due to his occupation as a doctor.
“And one of the predictions was that he would be born of a Virgin,” Reagan noted. “Now I know that is probably the hardest for you as a doctor 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,” the president said. “Either he was who he said he was or he was the greatest faker and charlatan who ever lived.”
“But would a liar and faker suffer the death he did when all he had to do to save himself was admit he’d been lying?” he asked.
“The miracle is that a young man of 30 years without credentials as a scholar or priest began preaching on street corners,” Reagan said of Jesus in the letter. “He owned nothing but the clothes on his back and he didn’t travel beyond a circle less than one hundred miles across.”
“He did this for only three years and then was executed as a common criminal,” the president added. “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.”
Reagan added that anyone can gain eternal life, they must simply trust in God and have faith in Him.
He quoted John 3:16: “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,” Reagan told Davis. “We only have to trust and have faith in his infinite goodness and mercy.”
Tumulty shares in her column that at the end of Loyal’s life, he did turn to God. His daughter, Nancy, was with him at the hospital, where he requested a chaplain to pray with him before he passed.
Tumulty also pointed out that the contents of the letter detailed who Reagan truly was at his core: a deep-rooted man of faith.
“Faith was not an electoral stratagem for Ronald Reagan,” she writes. “His private words show it was his starting point, and the core of who he was.”
(H/T: The Washington Post)