- (Photo: AP Images / Wilfredo Lee, File)
He's one of 19 grandchildren of the renowned evangelist Billy Graham. He grew up in what he called an "amazing Christian home" yet he couldn't figure out where he fit in that home.
Tullian Tchividjian recently released his first book Do I Know God?, describing his own spiritual quest from his years of "worldly bliss" to the time he cried to God for help.
Son of Graham's eldest daughter, Gigi, Tchividjian is the middle of seven children.
"The flavor of Christianity that was expressed by my family was not legalistic or oppressive. It was joyful, warm, inviting, hospitable, and real. I am, however, the middle of seven children and to be honest, that wasnt easy," he said in an interview with Justin Taylor of Crossway Books in Wheaton, Ill.
Even growing up under one of the most admired evangelicals in America, Tchividjian found himself making some unwise choices.
"I rebelled against everything my family stood for," he said, according to The Associated Press.
Tchividjian dropped out of high school and spent several years trying to "find himself" through promiscuity, drugs and alcohol.
During his rebellious stage, his grandparents, Billy and Ruth Graham, never preached to him or gave him a lecture, Tchividjian said in the interview.
"They always told me they were praying for me, that they believed God had His hand on me, and that if I ever needed anything, not to hesitate to let them know," he explained. "Their unconditional love for me during that time was stunning."
At age 21, when his fun came to an end, Tchividjian cried to God and his life drastically changed. Billy Graham called the turnaround an answer to his prayer.
"God graciously brought me to the end of myself," said Tchividjian. "God came to me and God conquered me."
Tchividjian entered seminary and currently pastors New City Presbyterian Church in Coconut Creek, Fla., which he started in 2003. As he leads some 450 members from the pulpit, he like many evangelists following Graham, including Graham's younger generations said he's not trying to fill in the shoes of his grandfather.
"I'm not sure that carrying my grandfather's torch is what I or any other young evangelicals would want said about us," he said, according to AP. "There's a distinction of what God has called me to do and what God has called him to do."
Tchividjian's first book was written to answer two basic questions: Is God knowable? And, if he is, how can I know that I know God?
"There is so much confusion regarding how we understand a relationship to God," he noted.
"I started thinking about why false assurance (of knowing God) is such an epidemic in our time as well and whether or not I could be doing more to prevent it. Believe it or not, one of the most strategic mission fields in North America today is the church!"