Today’s Illustration: Father’s Day Evangelism

When: August 7, 1982

Who: President Ronald Reagan

What: A Letter To His Father-in-law, Loyal Davis

  • Born: Ronald Wilson Reagan — February 6, 1911
  • Married Nancy Davis
  • President – 1967-1975
  • 40th President of the United States
  • Followed Jimmy Carter
  • Vice-President George Bush
  • 2018 — “Newly discovered letter to atheist father of Nancy Reagan” [1]
  • Loyal Davis, Reagan’s Father-in-Law, was a neurosurgeon
  • Died: Ronald Reagan – June 5, 2004, age 93


“Again at the W.H. . . . More of Saturdays work plus a long letter I have to write to Loyal. I’m afraid for him. His health is failing badly.” — President Reagan [1]

As Tumulty [Karen Tumulty, writing for the Washington Post] writes in her column, “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.” [2]

“I have never been able to subscribe to the divinity of Jesus Christ nor his virgin birth. I don’t believe in his resurrection, or a heaven or hell as places . . . . If we are remembered and discussed with pleasure and happiness after death, this is our heavenly reward.” — Loyal Davis [3]

“Two days before his death on Aug. 19, 1982, Davis sought out a hospital chaplain, and prayed with him, Nancy said. ‘I noticed he was calmer and not as frightened.'” [1]

Reagan signed the missive — “Love, Ronnie,” [1]


Key Illustrative Thoughts:

  • Father’s Day
  • evangelism
  • judgement
  • repentance
  • confession
  • death
  • salvation 
  • the Gospel
  • witnessing
  • love
  • missions


Sermonic Example:

(use whatever information from above you find useful)

. . . . Some can be dismissive if they want — but President Reagan wrote a letter about Jesus to his father-in-law!



Other Information & Links:

1. —

2. —

3. —

PDF of President Reagan’s Actual Letter

Transcript Of President Regan’s Actual Letter

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.


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