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The preacher's daughter
By SHARON TUBBS, Times Staff Writer
Oh, she's also evangelist Billy Graham's daughter. In fact, her father has called Lotz, 53, "the best preacher in the family."
A group of local women courted Lotz to bring her traveling revival to Tampa. They formed a nonprofit organization called "Just Give Me Jesus Tampa Bay." On Nov. 1 and 2, Lotz will give a series of sermons at the Ice Palace in Tampa. Christian author Jill Briscoe and recording artist Fernando Ortega will join her in the program. The revival is free to the public. The local organization hopes to raise $180,000 through private donations to offset costs.
Lotz spent two days in Tampa last week, talking to church pastors and women about the need for spiritual revival. Some 1,000 women showed up to hear her speak.
We caught up with Lotz for 20 minutes in her Embassy Suites hotel room to talk about the revival, about the effects of the Sept. 11 attacks and about the recent release of a taped, 30-year-old conversation between her father and former President Richard Nixon. On the tape, Graham, who is known for his support of Israel and his stand against targeting Jews for evangelism, is heard speaking derogatorily about Jews.
Times: Were you surprised by your father's comments on the Nixon tapes?
Lotz: Totally. I'm surprised. I'm astounded. ... I can't defend what was said, but I can defend him. ... He just doesn't criticize anybody. He just doesn't do it. Either he took leave of his senses for a minute (or the tapes have been misconstrued). I know that my father was devastated to know that his (Jewish) friends would have thought he thought less of them. It just hit him out of the blue and it just made him feel sick.
Times: More than six months afterward, how have the Sept. 11 attacks affected Christianity in America?
Lotz: It's made people more serious-minded. (Also, it has made people realize,) "It doesn't matter if you're young or old, CEO or janitor, black or white, what matters is your relationship with God."
Times: The attacks also furthered interreligious efforts among Muslims, Jews and Protestant and Catholic Christians. Spiritually speaking, is that a good thing for America?
Lotz: The dialogues between religions is. ... but I draw the line when they say Mohammed and Jesus are equal or that God and Allah are the same. (I am) not at the point of compromising or being so politically correct that I compromise what I believe is the truth.
Times: What are some of the challenges women face in developing personal relationships with God?
Lotz: To be a wife and a mother and all the things that go with that, working, cleaning, shopping. Plus, how many of us have careers? I don't know how we let that happen. We just doubled our responsibilities.
Times: Why do you think women need a spiritual revival?
Lotz: The revival came out of my own experience. In a two-year period (1998 and 1999), I went through a lot. My mother had so many surgeries, I couldn't keep count. There was Hurricane Fran, Hurricane Floyd. My three children got married within eight months of each other. ... When I went to church, I didn't want to be entertained. I didn't want dramas and musicals. The cry of my heart was: "Just give me Jesus." I needed a fresh touch from God ... There are other women out there who have pressures and problems unique to their situations ... just needing a time of refreshing. There are a lot of people out there who used to have a relationship with God. In a sense, (we're) going back to the basics.
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