The 700 Club with Pat Robertson

family restoration

Tullian Tchividjian: Graham's Prodigal Grandson Comes Home

By Shannon Woodland with Tim Branson
The 700 Club

CBN.com How does the middle son of a family of nine who had a warm and welcoming Christian upbringing reject everything he was raised to know and believe? Well, Tullian Tchividjian had his reasons. Those reasons had nothing to do with his grandfather, evangelist Billy Graham or that Tullian didn’t know better.

"I’ll never forget the afternoon when my dad said, 'You’re out of here.' I lost my temper and my younger brother got so scared at what he was watching that he called 9-1-1 and the police came. So there I am in my mom and dad’s driveway, sitting in the back of the police car looking out the back window at my mom who is weeping, literally watching her 16-year-old son sitting in the back end of a police car getting ready to be taken away."

Life with 16-year-old Tullian was tearing the Tchividjian family apart. His parents did everything they could for him: private schools and counseling, but nothing worked. One night after an intense argument with his parents, his dad told him to leave. The police were there to escort him out. 

"I felt no remorse. I felt no regret. In fact i was actually happy and pleased with my achievements. I was free to live every young guy’s dream," he remembers.

Now Tullian had time to do whatever he wanted – and that meant surfing.

It wasn’t that Tullian grew up in a dysfunctional or abusive home. In fact, his parents were loving Christians who taught him to love God. 

"I never doubted the existence of God. I never disbelieved in the authority of the Bible and the reality of Jesus and the cross, never. My problem was not intellectual, my problem was experiential. I just simply wanted to have fun and live my life the way I wanted to live it without anyone telling me what to do. My great fear was if I surrendered my life over to the Lord, He would strip me of all of the fun and excitement that this world has to offer."

Tullian stayed with the families of friends until they kicked him out, too. He dropped out of high school and worked at restaurants and in construction. But instead of paying his bills and rent, he wasted his money on drugs, alcohol, and girls.

"I stole, I was a thief. I mean from every employee I’ve ever worked for, I stole. I was a survivor, I knew how to make ends meet. I knew how to get what I needed, and what I wanted," he says.

Tullian met Kim, a waitress he worked with at a local restaurant. Although she was attracted to Tullian, she knew he needed to grow up.

"As much as I liked his personality and him, there was an element where I thought he was a project for me... like this guy needs my help," says Kim.

Tullian reconciled with his parents and took Kim to dinner at their home. 

"I knew there was just something different about this family. I didn’t know it at the time, but it was because God was the center of their home," she adds.

Kim became a positive influence on Tullian’s life.

"At that point, to be honest with you, even though my heart was far from the Lord, I actually started to become a lot more responsible. I was holding jobs, keeping apartments, learning how to pay bills, and for the most part earning an honest living," says Tullian. "At the ripe young age of 21, I came to the sobering realization that there has to be more to life than what this world offers, and there has to be more to who I am than what I am experiencing."

Kim remembers, "He came to his knees one night in his apartment and knew something had to change. God was making that very clear in his life."

"It was then, during that season of my life when my thinking started to change, and my affections started to change, and my behavior started to change. I started loving the things I use to hate and hating the things I use to love. And I started pursuing the things I use to run away from and running away from the things I use to pursue. It was then that I knew an internal revolution had taken place. I had been saved," says Tullian.

Kim also gave her life to Jesus Christ. Tullian and Kim were married by his grandfather Billy Graham. Armed with only a GED, Tullian went to college and from there attended seminary and graduate school.

Now the father of three, Tullian pastors New City Church in Coconut Creek, Florida. He chronicled his journey in his book, Do I Know God? 

Tullian shares his grandfather’s mission to see all come to Jesus Christ.

"I wanted to shout from the housetops to the whole world what God had done for me. I still have to pinch myself sometimes when I think about where I was 15 years ago and where God has brought me and the opportunities He’s given me to proclaim the gospel in both word and deed."

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