FamilyLife Today® Podcast

Heroes Among Us, Part 3

with Drew Ryun, Jim Ryun, Ned Ryun | July 7, 2006
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Many people want the accolades a heroic life brings, but they’re unwilling to pay the price for the title. On today's broadcast, Jim Ryun, a Republican Congressman from Kansas, and his sons, Drew and Ned, talk about some of the often overlooked men and women that line our heroes hall of fame.

  • Show Notes

  • About the Host

  • About the Guest

  • Many people want the accolades a heroic life brings, but they’re unwilling to pay the price for the title. On today's broadcast, Jim Ryun, a Republican Congressman from Kansas, and his sons, Drew and Ned, talk about some of the often overlooked men and women that line our heroes hall of fame.

  • Dave and Ann Wilson

    Dave and Ann Wilson are hosts of FamilyLife Today®, FamilyLife’s nationally-syndicated radio program. Dave and Ann have been married for more than 38 years and have spent the last 33 teaching and mentoring couples and parents across the country. They have been featured speakers at FamilyLife’s Weekend to Remember® marriage getaway since 1993 and have also hosted their own marriage conferences across the country. Cofounders of Kensington Church—a national, multicampus church that hosts more than 14,000 visitors every weekend—the Wilsons are the creative force behind DVD teaching series Rock Your Marriage and The Survival Guide To Parenting, as well as authors of the recently released book Vertical Marriage (Zondervan, 2019). Dave is a graduate of the International School of Theology, where he received a Master of Divinity degree. A Ball State University Hall of Fame quarterback, Dave served the Detroit Lions as chaplain for 33 years. Ann attended the University of Kentucky. She has been active alongside Dave in ministry as a speaker, writer, small-group leader, and mentor to countless wives of professional athletes. The Wilsons live in the Detroit area. They have three grown sons, CJ, Austin, and Cody, three daughters-in-law, and a growing number of grandchildren.

Jim Ryun and his sons talk about some of the often overlooked men and women that line our heroes hall of fame.

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Heroes Among Us, Part 3

With Drew Ryun, Jim Ryun, Ned Ryu...more
July 07, 2006
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Bob: When you think about heroes, do you think about missionaries?  Here is Drew Ryun.

Drew: C.T. Studd is one of the last heroes we deal with – and very successful cricketeer from a very wealthy family in England who had made a commitment to Christ, kind of walked away, and then made another commitment and came on fire.  He was part of the Cambridge Seven, and as he's standing up before he goes to China with his six companions, he stands before this crowd, and he goes, "Are you living for the day or are you living for life eternal?  The opinion of men won't matter much when we get before the Judgment Throne, but the opinion of God will.  Had we not, then, better take His Word and implicitly obey it?  In the light of eternity how are we acting?"

Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Friday, July 7th.  Our host is the president of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine.  We'll introduce you today to some heroes who have the courage to live out their convictions.  Stay with us.

 And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us on the …

Dennis: Bob, we started yesterday with a Bible trivia quiz, and I just want to see …

Bob: You interrupted me yesterday just as you did today.

Dennis: I did, and, you know, I just want to see how well you know our guest, Jim Ryun.  Jim Ryun, a congressman from Kansas joins us, along with his sons Ned and Drew.  Guys, welcome to FamilyLife Today.  We've enjoyed visiting with you this week, and we're going to see how well – Bob, don't turn that page, don't you look at that!  We're going to see how well you've done your homework on the …

Bob: I can't look at my notes here.

Dennis: … on Jim Ryun, that's right, okay.  First of all, what would you say is Jim Ryun's favorite book?

Bob: Favorite book – the Bible.

Dennis: Bingo, one for one.  His favorite sport?  Now, think hard about this, Bob.

Bob: Let's see, he was an Olympic runner – you still do a running camp, don't you?

Jim: We actually do two.  We've got one more – well, we've had two.  We had one in Colorado and one in Gettysburg.

Bob: And, you know, that always sounded like an oxymoron to me – a running camp.  Camp is fun, running is torture, but I guess people like this?

Jim: When you're tired, and you're sitting down, then you get to share the Gospel, see, so it has a double-edged sword.

Dennis: There you go, there you go.  Okay, Bob's two for two – his favorite game?  Now, think, Bob.  I'll give you a clue.  It has to do with what I asked you yesterday.

Bob: Bible trivia?

Dennis: There you go, three for three.

Bob: Thank you, thank you for that.

Dennis: His favorite animal?

Bob: Favorite animal would be a terrier, a rat terrier.

Dennis: Oh …

Bob: Is that right?

Dennis: You really did read it, yeah.

Bob: Otherwise, where would I pick up rat terrier from, right?

Dennis: Here's the thing.  I wanted to get to this question for Jim.  Jim, how can a congressman have a rat be his favorite pet?

Jim: Well, it's better than an elephant because it's a lot easier to take care of.

Bob: Are you going to get to movie, too?  I know his favorite movie.

Dennis: Okay, his favorite movie.

Bob: [hums the theme song from "Chariots of Fire"]

Dennis: That's not a very good imitation.

Bob: [continues humming "Chariots of Fire"]

Jim: But the arm movement suggests …

Bob: Of course, they can't see that on the radio, can they?  It's "Chariots of Fire."

Dennis: There you go.  Bob, you're brilliant, you really are.

Bob: Thank you very much.

Dennis: Well, the Ryun men have written a book called "Heroes Among Us," a book about men and women who have given their lives both physically, emotionally, spiritually, on behalf of causes, the nation, the Gospel, and it's a great book that I think is good bedside reading to read to a young lad or a young lady or to read to one another as a couple, because it will inspire you. 

 You know, I believe it was Napoleon who said that we become brave by doing brave acts, and I also think we become brave by reading about men and women who were brave as well.

Bob: You know, you mentioned that – we did an interview years ago with a professor from Boston College who talked about how we learn morality, and he said we learn it by story, by history, and by example.  And you really, in this book, have given us a primer on character and on morality by telling us stories that are, in this case, true stories that come out of history about people of great character.  In fact, one of the stories in this book is about a heroic missionary, Adoniram Judson.  My daughter, Amy, has just finished reading a book about his wife Ann.  Together, they took the Gospel to Burma for the first time, right?

Ned: They did.  The interesting story about Judson is he was raised in a Christian family but he himself was a Deist until about the age of 20.  Graduated as valedictorian from what is now Brown University, wanted to become a playwright; went down to New York, decided after a few weeks he didn't want to be a playwright; was coming home, and he stopped in a small wayside inn, and he spent the night, and the landlord said, "I apologize for this, but you'll have to be spending the night in a room next to a young man who we fear is dying."  And Judson said, "I'm all right with that, it's fine, it's the only room, I'll take it."

 Well, that night he spent listening to the activity in the other young man's room of people coming in and out to tend to him, and he spent the night thinking, "Is this young man prepared to die?"  And, remember, Judson is a Deist.  And he thought, "Is this man prepared to face eternity?"  And then he kind of laughed and chuckled to himself thinking of his good friend, Jacob Eames, from Brown University who had persuaded him of his Deist beliefs.

 Well, the next morning Judson woke up, went down, and asked the landlord, "How is the young man?"  And the landlord said, "Well, I'm afraid the young man has died."  And Judson said, "Do you know his name?"  And the landlord said, "Yes, it's Jacob Eames from Providence."  And it stunned Judson.  Here was his Deist friend who had gone into eternity without Christ.  And he had been raised – Judson had been raised in a Christian family, and it was right then and there that he knew the Bible was real, and he had to face was Christ the Son of God.

 And it went from there.  He went to theological seminary that year, and in that first year he read about Burma and began getting a heart for the foreign mission field, and it eventually led him to Burma, he and his wife.

Bob: His wife was as heroic in her love for the mission field as he was.

Ned: Oh, she was an amazing figure.  Ann – when they went to Burma, they were rejected.  It took them six years before they made their first convert, and then after they'd been there for a while, war broke out between England and Burma.  All the foreigners were arrested and thrown into the death prison except for Ann.  And Ann was the only foreigner in Ava, the capital of Burma, and she was working tirelessly to free her husband and the others.  She was an amazing woman.

Dennis: I know another Ann who is, most likely, very heroic, and that's Jim Ryun's wife, and I think sometimes when we make heroic decisions, we overlook some of those who are around us who cheered us on and who came alongside us and, frankly, who enabled us to be heroic.

Jim: And you make a good point, Dennis.  My wife, Ann, has been supportive of everything I've done and yet it's been as a result of her walk with Christ that she felt so strongly that as we were moving into this new arena, in the area of politics, that, you know, we needed to do that.  In fact, she has been willing to give me up more because when you're a congressman you have your work in Washington, but three weekends out of a month, you go back to the district, and you work.  So she knew she'd be giving up another portion of me, but she was willing to do that because she felt that same concern, that same commitment, and, to me, that was a courageous act, knowing that it would bring a different dimension to our relationship.

Bob: If we're going to be heroic in a marriage and in a family and in a culture, we need to be one in that area of courage and heroism.

Dennis: And I think a woman or a man can underestimate how they can cut the legs out from under their spouse.  Barbara, in my life, has been such an encouragement, such a cheerleader, and coming alongside me, encouraging me.  You know, the word "encourage" means to "give courage," and to be a hero alone, well, I don't know how realistic it is. 

 Now, I know people perform heroic acts on a battlefield, and they may be alone, but, for me, I need my wife to cheer me on.

Jim: And, Dennis, I can identify with that.  Ann is a great encourager, she is one who looks to the positive, and she warms up to people.  She's never met a stranger.  When I go back in the district, and she's not accompanying me, people will say, "Congressman, we're glad you're here, but where is Ann?"  You know, so that's a tremendous asset that I have, and I'm very grateful for that.

Bob: We were talking about some of the heroes that you've written about in your book, and I was a little surprised, Ned, when you said, "Can we talk about a newspaper editor?"  Because for the son of a congressman to even acknowledge that there might be a heroic newspaper person took me a little by surprise.

Dennis: Bob, all the newspapers in Kansas love Jim Ryun. 

Ned: We wish it were so.  Elijah Lovejoy was actually a Presbyterian minister who was a newspaper editor.  And this is the 1830s.  He had The Alton Observer.  It was initially the St. Louis Observer, but he was literally run out of St. Louis because of his anti-slavery editorials.  So he lands in Alton, Illinois, which is a free state, but many of its citizens are pro-slavery from the South.  And he refuses to stop writing his anti-slavery editorials.  He has three of his presses destroyed because of these editorials, but he refuses to stop.  And on the night of November 2nd, he's ordered his fourth press, it's coming into town shortly.  The town has a meeting with all the leading citizens, and they are basically telling Lovejoy, "You have two choices.  Either you and your newspaper can leave town, or you can continue writing your newspaper without the anti-slavery editorials."

 And Lovejoy stands up and says, "I have a right to do this given to me by my Maker and by the Constitution."  He said, "You speak of compromise, but if by compromise you mean for me to stop what duty requires of me, I will not do it.  The reason is that I fear God more than I fear man."  And I think the great thing for me with Lovejoy is it was his faith in Christ that motivated him to do what he did in the abolition movement.

Bob: He almost echoes the words of Martin Luther from the Diet of Worm, for Luther said "It's not right or good for a man to go against conscience," and he says, "Here I stand, I can do no other, God help me."  So Lovejoy, he had learned well from his church history, hadn't he?

Ned: Well, he continued on, he said, "You cannot disgrace me.  I, and I alone, can disgrace myself.  The deepest disgrace would be at a time like this to deny my Master by forsaking His cause.  He died for me, and I am most unworthy if I refused, if need be, to die for Him."

Dennis: You know, as you were talking, Ned, I was thinking about a number of listeners who are boys and girls.  Now, they're homeschoolers, and their mom turns on FamilyLife Today in hopes of passing a few morsels of truth on in the homeschooling day, maybe giving her a bit of a break, and they listen to it.  But I just thought, you know, there are young men and women listening to this broadcast right now who need to become the next newspaper owners, the next television station owners, and they need to take their faith in Christ and marry it to a powerful media outreach to challenge the status quo.

 If you look at our nation today, and you look at where we, as Christians, are losing the battle, we have segmented ourselves too far away from Hollywood, too far away from media, and, as a result, we've left men like Jim Ryun out on an island to battle the media.  And, Jim, I often am amazed at how a camera gets stuck in your face, and they put you on the spot and, you know, the media can take a sound bite, and they can turn a hero into a goat very quickly.

Jim: They really can, and that's why it's so important – for example, I start my day with quiet time with the Lord, searching out His Word, building up what I think I might need for the day, and yet being available for whatever might come is a real challenge and a real interesting process.

Ned: I think the thing, too, that's interesting of what Dennis was saying, that sometimes we, as Christians, become so insular, and we look inward, and we don't look outward into the world, and this worldview of taking the Gospel of Christ and preaching it everywhere and going out into the world into the business world, into politics, into the media.

Bob: And recognizing that that may cost us in the process.

Ned: Yes.

Bob: As you talk about Elijah Lovejoy who said, you know, "I'm willing to die for what I believe in" …

Ned: And the interesting thing with Lovejoy is that it did cost him.  Five days later after this meeting, he was defending his fourth press from a pro-slavery mob, and he was shot to death.

Drew: At the age of 35.

Ned: Yeah, he was very young.

Jim: He died very young.

Dennis: But he lived a purposeful life.

Jim: He did live a purposeful life, and, you know, one of the things that I'd like to mention is John Harper.  He was in the process of going from England to the Moody Tabernacle to give some sermons and to do an outreach, if you will, and the point that I'll make as I go along the way is you have a destination but be available along the way for whatever the Lord calls you to.  He was on the "Titanic" and, of course, there was that tragic story of where it hit an iceberg, it's just sinking, people got on lifeboats, and he was helping, wanted to make sure that the children and the women and then the unsaved had life preservers.  So he was working through that process himself, was in the water and, of course, the thing that they were struggling with was hypothermia with the extreme cold.   But what he was doing was going place to place in the water asking, "Are you saved?"  Asking individuals, even as he knew there could be a tragic end to his life. 

 Ultimately, he came upon a young man who he shared the Gospel with, and then eventually he knew that he hadn't accepted Christ, and he gave him his life preserver.  Later, this young man, by the name – his last name is Webb, said this, "There, alone in the night with two miles of water under me, I believe I am John Harper's last convert."

 Harper had a mission to go to Chicago but along the way he had a very courageous act that changed his life, and that was when he had to share the Gospel with somebody.

Ned: Well, I think one of the amazing things, too, about John Harper, even as he was swimming around talking to people, he was yelling as loud as he could, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shall be saved."  And I think how many of us would have the clarity of thought when we are literally freezing to death, swimming in those icy waters, yelling at the top of our lungs to dying people around us, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shall be saved."

Dennis: I was thinking that same thing.  I was thinking I would hope I would do that, you know, but what comes out in those moments, and we've been making this over the past couple of days – all the illustrations of men and women who were heroes, we've made the point that their heroism occurred because they made small acts that demonstrated character all the days of their lives.  And so by the time they came to the point of being in the water as this man did, he did what he had been doing.  He was proclaiming the Gospel.  It defined his life, and I think the exhortation for us is what defines your life?  Is it the Gospel?  Are you going to make sure people know?  If not, what are you living for?  And if you're not living for the Great Commission to proclaim the Gospel, then I think you have the wrong purpose.  And heroism for the wrong purpose may be noble, but if it's not for the Kingdom of God, you've missed it.

Ned: That goes back to the correlation that Bob was talking about yesterday that we are ambassadors for Christ, and it brings to mind 2 Corinthians 5 – we are ambassadors for Christ as though we are pleading on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God, and we have quite a few people in here from different walks of life – politicians, nurses, abolitionists, we even have some missionaries – ambassadors for Christ wherever Christ had call them.

Drew: As Dennis was saying – what are we living for?  C.T. Studd is one of the last heroes we deal with in the book – a very successful cricketeer from a very wealthy family in England who had made a commitment to Christ, kind of walked away, and then made another commitment and came on fire.  He was part of the Cambridge Seven, and as he's standing up before he goes to China with his six companions, he stands before this crowd, and he goes, "Are you living for the day or are you living for life eternal?  The opinion of men won't matter much when we get before the Judgment Throne, but the opinion of God will.  Had we not then better take His Word and implicitly obey it?" 

 And I think even Wilberforce would mention eternity – in the light of eternity how are we acting?

Jim: Dennis, you make a point earlier on about the moments in life, the convictions in life, and that's why it's so essential that we stop in the hustle and bustle of life and ask those questions – just exactly what am I doing? – and be willing to listen to that hard answer, you know, are we living it just for self?  You know, the definition of a hero is that you're self-sacrificing.  These people didn't wake up one day and say "I'm going to be a hero."  What they did every day was built character and those determinations that would ultimately maybe lead to that. 

 You know, we have as a subtitle, "In the Heart of Everyone is the Heart of a Hero."  The point is that you go slowly, and you're willing to answer those questions, and you're willing to listen and not be so busy that you miss the important things in life.

Bob: As we talked about this subject of heroism, and I've thought about my own character, my own life, would I be – what would I be doing in the waters of the North Atlantic if I was freezing to death?  What would I be doing if I was in a prison in Burma?  How would I respond in those situations?  Ultimately, it comes back to one thing for me, and that is do I fear God more than I fear men?

 We live in a time, and I have to confess it's true about me – where we are too often captured by the fear of men, desiring the approval of men, desiring the affirmation of men, and not willing to stand courageously for what's right because we care more about what men think than we do about what God thinks.

Dennis: And, for many, doing what's right is not played out on some field in front of millions of people on media.  It's doing what's right in your home with your spouse, with your children, your grandchildren, and I want to challenge the moms and dads to be purposeful about giving their children a mission that is eternal. 

 I believe I'm talking to some parents who are raising not only the next Billy Grahams but also the next newspaper owner who may be a minister but who also uses the press as a tool for truth.  Or maybe you're raising a young lady who – maybe she's going to go on to become a great woman who loves a family and loves a man who will be a great leader in our nation – maybe the president of the United States.  The point is, give your children a spiritual mission that will outlive you and them.

Bob: Well, and give them a vision for what real heroism looks like, and I think that comes when we expose them to some real-life heroes.  When we read to them stories from a book like "Heroes Among Us," and they see, fleshed out, what character and courage and convictions look like, that begins to cultivate in their hearts a desire to be courageous and full of conviction and heroic. 

 We've got copies of the book, "Heroes Among Us," in our FamilyLife Resource Center.  We have heard from a lot of folks in the last couple of days who have called to request a copy of this book.  Some are planning to use it in home school situations; some are going to use it for family devotions, bedtime stories.  There are a lot of grownups who want to read the book themselves, and it's not – I keep mentioning it as a book to read with children, and yet it's a book that any adult would enjoy and would benefit from as well.

 Again, you can contact us to get a copy of the book.  It's called "Heroes Among Us."  Go to our website,, click the red "Go" button there in the middle of the screen, and that will take you right to a page where there is more information about this book.  And you'll also see there information about the book, "Let's Roll," which came out a few years ago written by the wife of Todd Beamer, who was on board United Flight 93, one of the flights that was hijacked on September 11, 2001 – the flight that ultimately crashed in Pennsylvania, and I know the movie, "United 93" was just out in theaters and will be coming out before long on DVD, and I don't know how many of our listeners would have seen that movie, but Lisa Beamer's book, which tells the story of her husband's ordinary life but his extraordinary courage – that's a book that tells another story about an American hero, an ordinary man who exhibited heroic character.

 Again, we've got both of these books in our FamilyLife Resource Center.  You can go online at, and if you're interested in ordering both of the books, we can send along at no additional cost the CD audio of the conversation this week with Jim and Ned and Drew Ryun about these American heroes we've been talking about all this week.

 And, again, if you do get in touch with us, and you are able to help with a donation of any amount for the ministry of FamilyLife Today, we would appreciate your financial support.  We're listener-supported, and if it weren't for folks like you who call or go online from time to time and make a donation to this ministry, we would not be able to sustain the work of FamilyLife Today.  We couldn't continue on this station or on our network of stations all across the country. 

 So if you are able to help with a donation, you can either donate online, again, at, or call 1-800-FLTODAY and make a donation over the phone.  And, in either case, if you could make a donation this week, we would love to send you, as our way of saying thank you for your financial support, a CD that includes more than an hour's worth of conversation we had not long ago with Elyse Fitzpatrick.  Elyse is an author who has written a number of books including one about food, about eating.  It's a book called "Love to Eat, Hate to Eat," and it takes a very biblical look at issues related to eating disorders, overeating.  It just helps us understand how we ought to look biblically at food.

 If you'd like a copy of that CD, you can request it when you make a donation of any amount this week.  If you're donating online, when you get to the keycode box in the donation form, just write the word "eat" in that box.  Or if you call 1-800-FLTODAY to make a donation, mention that you'd like a copy of the CD about eating, and we'll be happy to send that out to you.  Again, it's our way of saying thanks for your financial support for this ministry.

 Well, I hope you have a great weekend.  I hope you and your family are able to worship together this weekend, and I hope you can join us back on Monday when we're going to talk with Steve Grissom about what we can do when a friend or a loved one comes to us and says, "I'm thinking about getting a divorce."  How can we help them understand the reality of the implications of that decision?  That's coming up Monday, I hope you can be with us for that.

 I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team.  On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine.  Have a great weekend, and we'll see you back Monday for another edition of FamilyLife Today.

 FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas, a ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ.

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