On March 30, 1981, a young man with a revolver stood near the exit of a Washington, DC, hotel. He fired six shots at Ronald Reagan’s entourage, striking the president, an aide, Secret Service agent, and police officer. The wounded president was pushed into a waiting car and rushed to a hospital.

The bullet struck Reagan under his arm, breaking a rib, and causing a punctured lung. In good spirits, and with a history of physical fitness, the 70-year-old president pulled through surgery.

While recovering in the hospital, the president tried to keep the mood light. Unable to speak with a tube down his throat, Reagan scribbled a note to a nurse: “Winston Churchill said there is no more exhilarating feeling than being shot at without result.”

Within weeks, Reagan was back at the White House and continued the historic trajectory of his presidency, leading America’s economic recovery and bringing communism to its knees in Eastern Europe.

Biblical Values Shape a Life

Reagan’s mother, Nelle, a Sunday school teacher, instilled biblical virtues into the future president. On arriving in Hollywood, the aspiring actor immediately sought out a church and continued practicing his Christian faith throughout his life.

As president, he actively spoke against abortion along with advocating for prayer in school.

Reagan was “the first President to step out boldly to protect the unborn child,” said James Dobson of Focus on the Family.

As his second term wound down in 1988, when most presidents would be concerned about their legacies, Reagan was already looking forward to his return to private life and public faith.

He leaned back in the luxurious chair reserved for the president of the United States on Air Force One. The two men, fortieth president of the United States, Ronald Wilson Reagan, and his grown son, Michael Edward Reagan, were deep in conversation as their plane sped onward toward Point Magu, California. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, the president sat quietly counting his fingers. “What are you doing, Dad?” asked Michael. “I’m counting the months until I will be out of office and I’ll be able to attend church again,” answered the president.

“I pose a threat to several hundred people if I go to church,” said Reagan in 1984, looking back on the assassination attempt. “I know all the threats that are made against me.”

Sharing the Gospel Is First Priority

When Reagan’s father-in-law Dr. Loyal Davis – a prominent surgeon and avowed atheist – lay dying in a hospital bed in 1982, the president wrote him a powerful letter. In it, Reagan detailed his personal testimony of faith, the power of prayer, and healing.

He also shared the Gospel and encouraged Davis to accept Jesus:

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?

The miracle is that a young man of thirty years, without credentials as a scholar or priest, began preaching on street corners. 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.

But for 2,000 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 whosoever believed in Him would not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

We have been promised that all we have to do is ask God in Jesus’s 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.

The leader of the free world, who was in the middle of a Cold War with the “evil empire” of the Soviet Union, thought it important enough to write to a dying man about the eternal life offered through Jesus Christ.

A Legacy of Service

As a young boy, Reagan learned the value of Christian service by watching his mother share wisdom from the Bible with prisoners in jails and patients in the local sanitarium.

Just days after leaving the hospital in 1981, the president met with New York’s Terence Cardinal Cooke. “The hand of God was upon you,” said Cooke.

“I know,” responded Reagan. “I have decided that whatever time I have left is for Him.”

Throughout his presidency, Reagan regularly delivered a radio address, broadcast every Saturday. In 1983, the Saturday before Easter, the president spoke on Jesus’s sacrifice and our commitment to remember His victory:

As Paul explained in his Epistle to the Ephesians, “[Jesus] came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. . . . So then you were no longer strangers and aliens, but you were fellow citizens of God’s household” (Eph. 2:17-19). . . . Tomorrow, as morning spreads around the planet, we’ll celebrate the triumph of life over death, the Resurrection of Jesus. . . . If we live our lives and dedicate our country to truth, to love, and to God, we will be a part of something much stronger and much more enduring than any negative power here on Earth. That’s why this weekend is a celebration and why there is hope for us all.

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