The inspiration for this website came from a Scripture song I heard over 10 years ago at a ladies retreat:

Like Apples of Gold in pictures of silver
A word fitly spoken shall be,
Like Apples of Gold in pictures of silver
Let my life bring glory to thee.

A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.
Proverbs 25:11

Although some of the "stories" listed are made up, the Scriptural truths they illustrate are very real and can be of great benefit in a Christian's walk with the Lord and as illustrations for the lost.

It is my heart's desire that amongst the pages of this website, the Christian find words of encouragement and be spurred on to service for our Lord, and that seekers of the truth find Salvation in the timeless truths of God's Word for these troubled times.

- Angela


Ira Sankey

Ira David Sankey

BORN: August 28, 1840
Edinburg, Pennsylvania
DIED: August 13, 1908
Brooklyn, New York
LIFE SPAN: 67 years, 11 months, 16 days

Sankey was the pioneer music director of the masses in American Evangelism. The Sweet Singer of Methodism brought to the Moody revivals zest and inspiration that prepared hearts for the messages of the famed evangelist. He set the pattern for those who later followed in his footsteps . . . Charles Alexander, Homer Rodeheaver, and Cliff Barrows. More than any other man, he was the one who ushered in the gospel song era. Sankey was a great song leader of congregations and choirs. He was a soloist of great ability, singing special music wherever he went. He also helped in the inquiry room.

Sankey seldom wrote poetry as did Fanny Crosby and P P Bliss. However, he did compose music and provide the tunes for some of the great hymns written during those days. Sankey can be credited with providing the melody for the-following: A Shelter In The Time of Storm, Faith Is The Victory, Grace Tis A Charming Sound, Hiding In Thee, I Am Praying For You, The Ninety And Nine, There’ll Be No Dark Valley, Trusting Jesus, Under His Wings, and When The Mists Have Rolled Away.

Ira David Sankey was born into the home of pious Methodists, David and Mary Sankey. One of the chief pleasures of his boyhood was to join the family circle around the great log fireplace. Long winter evenings were spent singing the old hymns of the church. He learned to read music this way and by the age of eight, he could sing many famous hymn tunes correctly. Spiritual interests were kindled by a Mr. Fraser who loved children. Along with his own sons, he took Sankey to a Sunday School held in an old schoolhouse. Sankey had educational opportunities that many were denied. He became a Christian in 1856 at the age of 16, while attending revival meetings at a church known as the King’s Chapel, located about three miles from his home. A year later the family moved to Newcastle where he became a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church. His talents were soon recognized and he was elected superintendent of the Sunday School, director of the choir, and class leader. His father was the president of the bank which also provided young Sankey with a job.

He became active in the fight to bring musical instruments into church services and he was responsible for the first organ to be installed in his own church. Here he gained invaluable experience and his voice began to attain that rich, resonant quality which was to make him world famous later on.

When President Lincoln called for men to help the government in 1860, Sankey was one of the first young men to enroll as a soldier. His company was sent to Maryland. In the army, his love of singing endeared him to his companions and he often led the singing for religious services held in the camp. He organized a male chorus in the company and assisted the chaplain with services. President Lincoln appointed his father as a Collector of Internal Revenue and after his term of service and the Civil War was over, Sankey returned to Newcastle to assist his father and enter governmental service. He remained with the Internal Revenue Department for several years.

At the age of 23, on September’ 9, 1863, he married Fanny Edwards, who was a member of his choir and a teacher in his Sunday School. The Sankeys had three sons, one of whom was born in Scotland.

In 1867, a branch of the Y.M.C.A. was organized at Newcastle and he became its secretary and later, president. Many years later, he had the pleasure of presenting a Y.M.C.A. building to his city. The building, including a gymnasium and library, cost more than $40,000. The funds were realized from the sale of his gospel hymns.

Sankey’s fame as a singer spread throughout western Pennsylvania and eastern Ohio. He received invitation after invitation to sing for conventions, conferences, and political gatherings.

He attended many musical conventions, and spent so much of his time in religious work, that his father once said, “I’m afraid Ira will never amount to anything. All he does is run around the country with a hymn-book under his arm!” . . . to which his mother replied, “Well, I’d rather see him with a hymn-book under his arm, than with a whiskey bottle in his pocket!” Sankey had no desire to make music a profession. It was never his custom to receive any remuneration for his services. In his work with the Y.M.C.A., he found an ever widening field of usefulness. In June of 1870, he was appointed a delegate to the International Convention in Indianapolis. For several years he had

read in the religious press of the work of Dwight L. Moody. In connection with the convention, it was announced that Moody was to speak at an early morning prayer meeting in a Baptist Church on a Sunday morning. Sankey was most anxious to hear and meet the man. Having arrived a little late at. the meeting, he sat near the door with a Presbyterian minister who urged Sankey to start a song. At the right moment, as Moody requested a song, Sankey started to sing … There Is A Fountain Filled With Blood, and the congregation joined in heartily as the meeting took on a new impetus. At the close of the service, he was introduced to Moody who abruptly asked him terse questions. When asked about his business, Sankey replied that he was employed by the government. Moody remarked, “You will have to give it up!” Nonplussed, Sankey listened to the evangelist who said, “I have been looking for you for eight years.”

Sankey was interested but not ready to render a decision. Moody asked him to meet him at a certain street corner the next day. Moody brought a big box and asked Sankey to mount it and then requested that he sing something. Sankey complied and sang … Am I A Soldier of The Cross. Moody then began to speak to a large crowd of working men, who had left the mills to hear him. At the end of the service, he announced that he would continue the meeting at the Opera House. Sankey led that large packed Opera House gathering in singing . . . Shall We Gather At The River.

It took Sankey six months to consent to spend a week with Moody in Chicago. This visit concluded with a great mass meeting at Farwell Hall where Sankey sang … Come Home, Prodigal Child, at the last service. Soon, his resignation was sent to the Secretary of the Treasury, and a life of faith began.

At the age of 30, Sankey began his work with Moody early in 1871 and labored with him daily until the great Chicago Fire erupted, on October 8, 1871, which destroyed everything. Moody had just finished speaking to a crowded Farwell Hall audience. As Sankey was singing and in the middle of a song, his voice was drowned by the clanging of fire engines. Confusion arose from the streets and Moody dismissed the congregation. The two men parted, not to meet again for two months. Sankey spent many hectic hours in the confusion that followed. At first, he tried to aid in preventing the spread of the flames, but a large wind all but doomed the city. The fire was moving toward the business section and Farwell Hall. The flames followed so closely, he was compelled to shake falling embers from his coat. When he arrived at his room, he grabbed his most valued possessions and left the building. He could find no means of transportation so headed toward Lake Michigan.

After many harrowing experiences, he reached the lake shore in safety, exhausted, and very thirsty. He found a small rowboat, and putting his possessions on board, rowed out far enough to find fresh water. Tying his boat in position, he watched the destruction of the city. A whole day passed and now on the evening of the 9th, Sankey determined to return to shore, even though the city was still engulfed in flames. To his dismay, he discovered that the line which fastened his boat had broken. He was swept out on the rolling lake and for a time his life was endangered but God overruled and brought him to shore safely.

He took a train to his Pennsylvania home and stayed there until a brief telegram arrived from Moody asking him if he would please return to Chicago and assist in the new ministry at the crude temporary tabernacle that had been recently constructed. Returning, they often slept together in a corner of the tabernacle with only a single lounge for a bed. During these busy months Moody was soliciting funds for the reconstruction of the church. Soon, a new edifice was dedicated. Sankey moved his family to Chicago in October of 1872.

While Moody was in England during this year, Sankey, with good assistance, kept the great work in Chicago going. Upon Moody’s return, they seemed to work together better than ever. An evangelistic campaign in Springfield, Illinois, saw unusual power and blessing.

About this time, Sankey’s esteemed friend, P P Bliss, returned from Europe with impressive engagements lined up. He made Sankey an enticing offer to accompany him and assist in the services of song but Sankey declined. The partnership with Moody continued as they worked well together. Moody would arouse and startle his hearers with his preaching and at the conclusion of his appeal, Sankey would rise and sing. His melodious voice was soothing and comforting, with deep conviction, and he believed that souls could be saved with each note he sang. Moody decided that Sankey would be his associate on the next trip abroad and agreed to pay him $100 per month.

The memorable 1873-75 revival throughout the British Isles began in June of 1873. Mrs. Sankey and Moody’s family accompanied the team. Enroute to Liverpool, where they landed, they had been notified that the men who had invited them to come to England were dead and no meetings were scheduled. Remembering the Y.M.C.A. at York had invited him to speak there, should he ever return to England, Moody obtained the use of the Independent Chapel and evangelistic services were announced. The first service was attended by fewer than fifty persons and Sankey found the people unaccustomed to his methods and to his type of songs.

F B. Meyer, a leading Baptist minister of the city helped turn the tide by his enthusiastic endorsement of the team. Invitations began to come from various towns. At Sunderland, Sankey sang several favorite songs, unaware of the opposition by the pastor to solos, organ music, and choirs. However, the Reverend Rees was impressed and posted notices announcing that Mr. Sankey, from Chicago, would sing the gospel. This phrase came to be widely used thereafter. One night as Sankey sang. .. Come Home, 0 Prodigal, Come Home, a cry pierced the silence and a young man rushed forward and fell in the arms of his father, begging forgiveness. The entire congregation was impressed and hundreds pressed to an adjoining room seeking prayer and pardon. Next came Newcastle, where he first began to use the songs … Sweet By and By and Christ Arose. Here, the first choir was organized and revival fires burned for two months.

The Edinburgh, Scotland, Crusade began on November 23, 1873. Apart from the Psalms, music was not used to any degree. Man-made hymns had much prejudice against them. Moody caught a cold and could not speak the first night and J. H. Wilson was to take his place. Tactfully, Sankey asked the congregation to join in singing a portion of the 100th Psalm. Scripture and prayer followed. Sankey then sang his first solo … Jesus Of Nazareth Passeth By. The intense silence bore testimony that this novel method of presenting the gospel was being accepted. After the message, he selected … Hold The Fort and asked the congregation to join in the chorus. Scotland was now ready for the ministry of Moody and Sankey. Gospel singing and the organ were now being accepted. The rest of the amazing ministries of those days is told .in the Moody Biography (3 in this series). The 1875 climax was the great London Crusade.

Arriving back home in America, on August 14, 1875, their first services were in Northfield, Massachusetts. Moody’s mother professed conversion there and Sankey sang The Ninety And Nine for the first time in America.

The team’s first large campaign in the states began on October 31, 1875, in Brooklyn. Sankey’s choir numbered 250 voices, aided by a large organ. However, when he sang, he accompanied his solos on a small organ; a practice which he always preferred, not wanting the music to detract from the message. The next crusade began in Philadelphia on November 21st where, despite torrential rains, 9,000 showed up for the opening service. Here, his choir numbered, 500 voices. The New York crusade began on February 7, 1876 at the Great Roman Hippodrome on Madison Avenue. A choir of 600 voices was led by Sankey, and Moody had his largest audience to date.

Sankey’s health was somewhat impaired so he returned to his home in Newcastle. He busied himself preparing his new song book . . . Gospel Hymns Two with his good friend, P P Bliss, assisting him. Bliss was to die a tragic death later, in 1876, while on his way to visit the Chicago Crusade. The Boston Crusade began on January 28, 1877 in a temporary structure and the staid, old city enjoyed his renditions as much as any.

Cities across the nation, in Canada and Mexico, were to enjoy the team in the years that followed. Back in the British Isles, 1881-84, they found many converts of former years.

Sankey’s publishing ventures grew to tremendous proportions. His first hymn-book, published in England, in 1873, was called Sacred Songs and Solos. It included 23 selections. Then his Gospel Hymn series followed, with numbers one to six being published between 1875 and 1891. These contained hundreds of hymns still widely used. Several editions of these enjoyed sales that totaled millions of copies in many languages. Royalties from his song books would have given him a modest fortune. However, much of it was used to help Moody’s educational ventures, especially the erection of his first school . . . Northfield School for Girls. Sinker was active in the Northfield Conferences which Moody conducted and lived there in the summer. Fanny Crosby spent several summers with the Sinkers there.

Sinker, his family, and a few friends sailed from New York, in January of 1898, for a visit to the Holy Land. This was one of his great delights. In 1899, Sinker returned to Great Britain. There, he held special services in sacred song and story in some 30 cities and towns. It was this extended engagement that impaired his health to the extent that he eventually lost his eyesight.

The team of Moody and Sankey was to be together for the last time, at a Brooklyn Church pastored by a Dr. Storr. The two spent a Sunday together in New York and then parted for the last time. Moody’s last letter was dated November 6, 1899 and he died soon after. Sinker continued conducting services of Sacred Song and Story for some time.

As blindness overtook him in 1903, he lived out his days at his Brooklyn, New York home on South Oxford Street. During his last five years, he had extreme weakness and much pain as glaucoma had destroyed the optic nerve. Sinker maintained a sweet spirit of patience and his mind remained clear to the end. Of all his earthly friends, who cheered him during his lonely hours, none proved a greater benediction than his beloved friend, Fanny Crosby. They would sing, pray, and fellowship in their blindness and discomfort. How they rejoiced in knowing that they would soon be together in glory with the Saviour they adored and reunited with D. L. Moody and other loved ones

His publication, My Life and the Story of Gospel Hymns, came out in 1906. It was from memory, as the original manuscript was lost in a fire in 1901 at Battle Creek, Michigan just prior to publication.

Sankey passed on in his sleep without a struggle. Funeral services were held at the LaFayette Avenue Presbyterian Church, where Sankey was a member during his latter years. Several of his own hymns were sung at the funeral by an aged cousin, C. C. Sinker, including: The Ninety And Nine, There’ll Be No Dark Valley, Faith is the Victory, and Hiding in Thee. The sermon was delivered by the pastor, Charles E. Locke. Buried in the local Greenwood Cemetery, his grave stone has a bar of music with `Good Night’ and `God Is Love’ above and below it.

Stories of his hymn compositions seem a fitting way to conclude this biography. His first and most famous composition was … The Ninety And Nine. Sinker and Moody were enroute from Glasgow to Edinburgh, Scotland, in May, 1874 as they were to hold a three-day campaign there. This was at the urgent request of the Ministerial Association. Prior to boarding the train, Sinker bought a weekly newspaper for a penny. He found nothing of interest but a sermon by Henry W Beecher and some advertisments. Then, he found a little piece of poetry in a corner of one column that he liked and he read it to Moody but only received a polite reply. Sankey clipped the poem and tucked it in his pocket. At the noonday service of the second day of the special series, Moody preached on The Good Shepherd. Horatious Bonar added a few thrilling words and then Moody asked Mr. Sinker if he had a final song. An inner voice prompted him to sing the hymn that he found on the train. With conflict of spirit, he thought … this is impossible! The inner voice continued to prod him, even though there was no music to the poem, but he acquiesced. As calmly as if he had sung it a thousand times, he placed the little piece of newspaper on the organ in front of him. Lifting up his heart in a brief prayer to Almighty God, he then laid his hands on the keyboard, striking a chord in A flat. Half-speaking and half-singing, he completed the first stanza, which was followed by four more. Moody walked over with tears in his eyes and said, “Where did you get that hymn?” The Ninety And Nine became his most famous tune and his most famous sale from that time on. The words were written by Elizabeth Clephane in 1868 who died in 1869, little realizing her contribution to the Christian world.

Trusting Jesus was written by Edgar Page Stites in 1876. The poem first appeared in a newspaper and was handed to D. L. Moody. He, in turn, gave it to his partner, Ira Sinker, and asked him to set it to music. Mr. Sinker agreed to do so, on one condition, that Moody would vouch for the doctrine taught in the verses, which he did. It became the favorite hymn of W B. Riley.

A Shelter In The Time Of Storm was written by V J. Charlesworth. Sinker found it in a little paper published in London, called the Postman. This song became a favorite of fishermen in the northern part of England. Sinker composed a practical melody for church use in preference to a former weird, minor sound it first had.

I Am Praying For You was written by Samuel O’Malley Cluff. Sankey found the poem on a leaflet, in 1874, when he was with Moody in Ireland. The song was first used in the Moody-Sankey campaign, in London, in 1875. This was his second musical setting with only the famous, The Ninety And Nine, preceding this.

When The Mists Have Rolled Away was written in 1883 by Annie Herbert Barker. Mr. Sankey added the musical touch and another hymn was born.

Other Sankey songs, not mentioned in the beginning, were: Why Not Tonight?, Yet There Is Room, Welcome, Wonderer, Welcome; Take Me As I Am; It Is Finished; Jesus, I Will Trust Thee; Now Now, My Child; Tell It Out; The Smitten Rock, and one of the tunes of the famed Beneath The Cross Of Jesus.

Who knows, perhaps it was Moody, rather than Sankey, who benefited most at that fateful meeting in Indianapolis in 1870, where God brought their ministries together.

There were ninety and nine that safely lay
In the shelter of the fold:
But one was out on the hills away,
Far off from the gates of gold.
Away on the mountains wild and bare,
Away from the tender Shepherd’s care.

But all through the mountains thunder-riven
And up from the rocky steep,
There arose a glad cry to the gates of heaven,
“Rejoice, I have found My sheep. ”
And the angels echoed around the throne,
Rejoice, for the Lord brings back His own.

– Ed Reeves, Fundamental Publishers

Ira Sankey, as a Bible believing Christian, knew that his place in Heaven was secured by repentance toward God and faith toward the Lord Jesus Christ and the blood He shed for our sins when He died on the cross of Calvary. Brother Smith is with the Lord Jesus Christ right now, but do you know, with 100% assurance, from God’s Word, that you will be with Jesus when you die?

If you do not have this assurance, please read:

God’s Simple Plan of Salvation

These things have I written unto you
that believe on the name of the Son of God;
that ye may know that ye have eternal life,
and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.

1John 5:13

Billy Sunday

Billy Sunday

BORN: November 19, 1862
Ames, Iowa
DIED: November 6, 1935
Chicago, Illinois
LIFE SPAN: 13 days short of 73 years

William Ashley Sunday was one of the great evangelists in history. This fiery dynamic “baseball evangelist” conducted approximately 300 crusades in the 39 years of his ministry, preaching to over 100,000,000 people, the largest prior to Billy Graham. It is estimated that he personally shook the hands of 250,000 to 1,000,000 converts. For years he captured the attention of the media, the eyes of the nation, and the hearts of the multitudes as he proclaimed the gospel in his unique manner.

Billy Sunday was born November 19, 1862 in a two-room log cabin outside of Ames, Iowa. He was the third son of William and Mary Jane Corey Sunday. Billy was a war child, America was wracked by the Civil War. Soon, Billy was a war orphan, one month after his son’s birth, Private William Sunday succumbed to a disease contracted on the battlefield.

Jane Sunday was remarried in 1870 to a man named Heizer, who abandoned her after she bore him two children. Billy’s mother kept the family with her as long as she could, but was finally forced to send 12-year old Billy and his older brother Edward to the Soldier’s Orphans’ Home in Glenwood, Iowa.

About two years later, the boys returned to their grandfather Corey’s farm, but Billy did not stay long. He later recalled: I borrowed a horse . . . and rode to the town of Nevada, which was the county seat, some eight miles away, to look for a job.

Over the next few years Billy held a variety of jobs, including fireman, janitor, and undertaker’s assistant. After several months he went to work for Colonel John Scott, who was then lieutenant-governor of Iowa. With Scott’s help, Billy was able to enroll in the Nevada High School, though he never graduated.

Sunday moved to Marshalltown, Iowa., he got a job in a furniture store. He began to play baseball on the `own team, and his speed and daring nature soon made him the star player. It was here that the 20-year old youth began his rise to fame. A.C. (Pop) Anson, captain of the Chicago White Stockings, discovered the young prodigy while visiting relatives in Marshalltown. He returned to Chicago and wired Sunday to come for a tryout.

Sunday’s tryout consisted of a race against Fred Pfeffer, the “crack runner” for the Chicago team. Billy won the race and a place on the team by 15 feet.

Speed was Billy Sunday’s claim to stardom. For years he held the record as the fastest man in baseball, circling the bases in 14 seconds flat. He was known as the most daring base stealer in the game. This helped to offset the fact that he was not a great batter. In fact, it took Billy a little while to get the hang of batting in the big leagues. He struck out his first 13 times at bat for Chicago. He usually played center field.

It was while playing ball for Chicago that Billy Sunday signed up with God, in the fall of 1887. Years later, he recalled: Twenty seven years ago I walked down a street in Chicago in company with some ball players who were famous in this world, some of them are dead now – and we went into a saloon. It was Sunday afternoon and we got tanked up and then went and sat down on a corner. I never go by that street without thanking God for saving me. It was a vacant lot at that time. We sat down on a curbing. Across the street a company of men and women were playing on instruments – horns, flutes, and slide trombones and the others were singing the gospel hymns that I used to hear my mother sing back in the log cabin in Iowa and back in the old church where I used to go to Sunday School.

I sobbed and sobbed and a young man stepped out and said, “We are going down to the Pacific Garden Mission. Won’t you come down to the mission?”

I arose and said to the boys, “I’m through. I am going to Jesus Christ. We’ve come to the parting of the ways,” and I turned my back on them. Some of them laughed and some of them mocked me, one of them gave me encouragement, others never said a word.

Twenty seven years ago I turned and left that little group on the corner of State and Madison streets and walked to the little mission and fell on my knees and staggered out of sin and into the arms of the Saviour.

The new Billy Sunday continued to play ball, but his extracurricular activities changed dramatically. He followed the rule of the Pacific Garden Mission that the redeemed of the Lord should say so, testifying at every opportunity. At first he could hardly speak three sentences without “sputtering and sweating,” but he gained confidence with each meeting. The Y.M.C.A. arranged speaking engagements for him on his baseball circuit, and soon everyone knew that the Chicago baseball star was a Christian. Captain Anson made him the business manager of the Chicago White Stockings.

Sunday joined the Jefferson Park Presbyterian Church in Chicago shortly after his conversion. He attended every service, and grew commensurately in grace. Other rewards awaited him there as well, for it was there that he met Helen Amelia Thompson, who later became his wife. (Note: Biographers disagree as to whether Sunday and Miss Thompson began courting before or after his conversion). She was born June 25, 1868 and died in 1957.

The next spring Billy was sold to Pittsburgh with a large salary increase included in the deal. By this time Billy and Helen were engaged, They postponed their wedding until after Billy’s first season with Pittsburgh. This allowed them to save the money they needed and (finally) to win the good will of Helen’s father. With that, the wedding was set for September 5, 1888 at the Thompson home.

Billy did not immediately leap into the field of evangelism. It was a slow, arduous move, full of doubts and fears. He continued playing ball for Pittsburg until he was traded to Philadelphia in 1891. It was a three-year contract with a huge salary, but Billy soon wanted out. Since his conversion he had become heavily involved with the Y.M.C.A. work, and his heart was burdened to give himself to full-time Christian service. A contract for three years of his life stood in his way, a contract from which Philadelphia refused to release him.

Sunday begged God, and finally set out a fleece: “Lord, if I can get my release by March 25th, I will go into Y.M.C.A. work. If I don’t get it, I will accept that as evidence you want me to continue playing ball, and I will play out the rest of my contract.” On March 17, Sunday was notified that he could have his release. God had answered.

Immediately, God sent a test. Cincinnati offered Sunday a contract for five thousand dollars for one season. For two days he wrestled, neither eating or sleeping. Another baby was coming and times were hard. He decided to accept the contract, but his wife Nell reproved him. “You promised God that you would quit. Stick to your promise.”

He did. The next day he signed up as a full-time Y.M.C.A. worker, trading a $5000 contract for a salary of $83.00 a month. His duties included street meetings, literature distribution, fund-raising, routine office duties and securing speakers for the noon prayer meetings.

It was a time of testing as well. Once, he almost returned to baseball, but Nell encouraged him. So he resigned himself to stay.

Two years later, in 1893, Sunday joined the team of evangelist J. Wilbur Chapman. He served as advance man and general helper, seeing all the aspects of evangelistic work. Suddenly, Christmas Eve of 1895, Chapman decided to return to the pastorate. The Sundays were stunned. What were they to do? They wondered. The answer came a few days later from a Presbyterian pastor in Garner, Iowa, in a letter that read: “The Baptist and Methodist ministers have united with me, and we are going to hold a city-wide revival. We would like to know if you would be our evangelist and lead us in the revival. We have already rented the opera house in Garner. Let us know at once, please.”\

Sunday accepted, and left for Garner with eight sermons he borrowed from Chapman. 268 were saved in ten days, January 8-17, 1896. The sawdust trail had begun.

Billy Sunday was licensed to preach by the Presbyterian church in 1898 and ordained in 1903.

Crusades continued in: Sigourney, Iowa – January 17-February 6, 1896, Oneida, Illinois – January-February, 1898 and Dundee, Illinois – January, 1900.

The simple meetings became organized, highly structured endeavors involving many people. Large wooden tabernacles were built to accommodate the crowds, the first being in Perry, Iowa in December of 1900, costing about $700, seating 1,000 for the March 6-27, 1901 crusade there.

For years Sunday held his meeting mostly in small mid-western towns, not rising to national prominence until 1911. A list of these crusades follows:

  • Atlantic IA, .Jan. 1902
  • Wheaton, IL, Feb. 1902
  • Maryville, MO, May, 1902
  • Peoria, IL; Oct. 1903
  • Jefferson, IA, Dec. 1903/Jan. 3, 1904
  • Marshall, MN, Jan-Feb., 1904
  • Keokuk, IA, Oct. 5-Nov. 5, 1904
  • Pontiac, IL, Nov 5-Dec. 5, 1904
  • Redwall Falls, MN, Dec. 10, 04/Jan. 8, 05
  • Dixon, IL, Feb.-Mar., 1904
  • Canon City, CO, Mar. 26-Apr.23, 1905
  • Macomb, IL, 11 Apr. 29-May 28, 1905
  • Burlington, IA, Nov. 9-Dec. 17, 1905
  • Rochester, MN, Dec. 28, 1905/Jan. 29, 1906
  • Princeton,IL, Feb. 11-Mar. 17, 1906
  • Austin, MN, March, 1906
  • Salida, CO, Sept, 22-Oct. 21, 1906
  • Galesburg, IL, Sept. 28-Nov. 4, 1907
  • Muscatine, IA, Nov. 10-Dec. 15, 1907
  • Bloomington, IL, Dec. 27, 1907/Feb. 3, 1908
  • Decatur, IL, Feb. 7-Mar. 17, 1908
  • Sharon, PA, May-June, 1908
  • Jacksonville, II, Sept. 25-Nov. 5, 1908
  • Ottumwa, IA, Nov. 6-Dec. 16, 1908
  • Spokane, WA, Dec. 25, 1908/Feb. 1909
  • Boulder, CO, Sept. 5-Oct. 10, 1909
  • Cedar Rapids, IA, Oct. 29-Nov. 21, 1909
  • Youngstown, OH, Jan.-Feb., 1910
  • I)anville, IL, February, 1910
  • Bellingham, WA, Apr. 23-May 29, 1910
  • New Castle, PA, Sept. 18-Oct. 31, 1910
  • Waterloo, IA, Nov. 7-Dec. 19, 1910

On the last Sunday of 1910 a very significant campaign opened in Portsmouth, Ohio which lasted six weeks into February of 1911. This crusade drew 5,200 converts. This was followed by a February 11-March 25 crusade in Lima, Ohio which gained 5,700 converts. Toledo, Ohio followed April 9-May 21 with the six week crusade eclipsing all previous crusades with 7,300 converts and a freewill offering of over $15,000. It seems these three Ohio crusades in 1911 brought Sunday to the attention of the nation.
Good crusades continued:

  • Erie, PA, May 28-July 9, 1911
  • Springfield, OH, Sept. 24-Nov. 5, 1911
  • Wichita, KS, Nov. 12-Dec. 25, 1911
  • Canton, OH, Dec. 31-Feb. 11, 1911
  • Wheeling, W VA, Feb. 18-Mar. 31, 1912
  • Fargo, ND, April-May, 1912
  • Beaver Falls, PA, May 16-June 24, 1912
  • East Liverpool, OH, Sept. 15-Oct. 27, 1912
  • McKeesport, PA, Nov. 3-Dec. 25, 1912
  • Columbus, OH, Dec. 29-Feb. 16, 1913

Then came the famed Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania crusade commencing February 22, 1912. It was estimated that 25% of the population came to Christ, and in the year that followed it has been told that 200 taverns closed. This has to be a most remarkable record, and one wonders if this was not real revival, where the entire atmosphere of a city was changed. Two years after the crusade a Philadelphia newspaper reported that 83% of his converts were still in active Christian service. South Bend, Indiana was next, April 27-June 15, 1913. Then came Steubenville, Ohio, September 14October 26, 1913 where a most remarkable thing happened again. One third of the city hit the “sawdust trail.” Again this might show the value of crusades in smaller areas.

Then it was Scranton, Pennsylvania, March 1-April 20, 1914. Here there was the Dunmore Social Club, a group of 40 men who used a saloon and engaged in all kinds of debauchery. When the crusade was over, 38 of the men were converted and the club made the former saloon the Dunmore Christian Mission. Other hardened sinners were tamed. Four more crusades would transpire before he hit “big-time” cities such as Philadelphia.

In his 20th year in evangelism he finally had a crusade in a major city in America, Philadelphia. God uses evangelists in different ways. It was the same with Charles Finney, starting in smaller towns and eventually reaching the bigger cities. In the case of D.L. Moody it was the London crusade that launched his career, and in the case of Billy Graham it was the Los Angeles crusade that launched his career.

The Philadelphia crusade ran January 3-March 20, 1915. More than two million attended the meetings with another one million hearing his associates in factories, offices, clubs, homes and miscellaneous meetings. Over 40,000 converts were “signed up,” with 1,850 on the final day alone. Homer Rodeheaver’s choir had 6,000 that was divided into three groups that sang alternately. The favorite congregational song was “Since Jesus Came Into My Heart.” John Wanamaker, business man, and Mayor Blankenship were key supporters of the crusade. When the meetings were over, there were enough requests by delegations to have continued to fill the tabernacle for three more months. The impact of Philadelphia has lasted until this day.

Four good crusades were between his next major national impact, Baltimore.

Then came Baltimore, Maryland, February 28-April 23, 1916. The tabernacle seated 15,000 and 5,000 more could squeeze in. Baltimore papers say 24,000 heard him at one of his final day meetings. On that final Sunday, Sunday conducted four meetings, preached to 96,000 people, and had 1,843 “hit the trail.” It was estimated a total of one and a half million attended with more than 23,000 conversions during this time. Three children of Mayor Preston were saved. On the final evening service, “Home Run” Baker of the New York Yankees and four of his team mates joined those getting saved. A nursery was available for mothers and during the crusade nearly 2,000 babies were taken care of. Sunday spoke in several wealthy mansions to socialites and turned bridge clubs into Bible classes as a result. The night after the crusade ended, and the team was gone, a service was held to give converts a chance to testify. 75 more were saved. Churches were swamped with converts.

Next same Kansas City, Missouri, April 30-June 18, 1916 where 40,000 ignored torrential rains to attend his opening services. The Detroit crusade September 10-November 6, was a great success as well. This was followed by a crusade in Boston, November 2, 1916January 21, 1917. There was a Christmas break but the city was turned on to spiritual things. Such as William Ward Ayer was converted at these meetings. Then came a crusade in Buffalo, New York January 28-March 25.

His greatest crusade and perhaps the greatest crusade in history by any evangelist was the New York crusade, held April 8-June 19, 1917. There were nearly 100,000 conversions in ten weeks, over 7,000 on the final day. This total amount was by far the largest single number of decisions for a single crusade that we have ever come across in our research. He was also deeply involved in support of the American war effort, helping to sell war bonds, speaking on the need to save food and fuel, and vigorously encouraging young men to enlist. He gave the entire amount of his love offering, $113,000 to the Y.M.C.A. and the American Red Cross.

Following this was two large scale crusades in key cities, Los Angeles, September-October, and Atlanta, November-December, 1917. He also published his first book in 1917, Love Stories of the Bible.

Then it was time to hold a crusade in the nations capital, Washington, D.C., January 6-February, 1918. His Washington Tabernacle was erected just a few hundred yards from the Capitol Building and Union Station. He was invited to offer the prayer at the opening session of Congress. It was the most unusual ever given, for it was interrupted by applause three times. More than any other, he made an impact on lawmakers in the establishment of the Prohibition Amendment in 1919.

Then it was crusade time in Chicago, his “second home,” where he was converted, where he first played baseball. This crusade went on from March 10-May 19. His $67,000 love offering was given to the Pacific Garden Mission, the place of his spiritual birth.

The year finished with crusades in Duluth, Minnesota, May 26June, Providence, Rhode Island, September 22-November 3, and Ft. Worth, November-December, 1918.
The Sundays had a summer cottage at Winona Lake (Indiana) for about 10 years before they moved there permanently in 1910. Ma Sunday was often with her husband in crusades, their four children were left in the care of a nurse. None of the children would live to age 45. In 1920, the Winona Lake Assembly honored its friend and community resident by erecting and dedicating its largest auditorium to him – called the Billy Sunday Tabernacle. It would seat 7,500.

Large scale revival campaigns suffered a great loss in effectiveness after World War I and Sunday was affected by a parallel decrease in his national exposure and influence. He also spent time defending the constitutional amendment on the prohibition of alcoholic beverage and fighting its repeal. He was also engaged in the management of Winona Lake Bible Conference.

His final major crusade was held in Kansas City, Missouri, April 28-May 18, 1935. He was 72 years of age. It is interesting to note that D. L. Moody’s final campaign was also in Kansas City. As Sunday’s career came to an end, he continued to hold three week crusades. As Billy Graham’s career runs down, he closes out holding five day crusades.
His final preaching engagements were at the Methodist Church in Mishawaka, Indiana where he replaced of all people, Homer Rodeheaver, as a scheduled speaker, when Rodeheaver was called away. His last sermon was on Acts 16:31 and some 40 responded. He died soon afterwards of a heart attack. He had been ill most of the year, and had to miss such things as his honorary doctorate presentation at Bob Jones College.

A few odds and ends need to be shared as this story winds down. His tabernacles were unique. He used low, straight roofs instead of lofty ceilings and pushed the speaker’s platform as far as possible toward the center of the building. A huge sounding board hung over the platform and projected the evangelist’s voice. Behind the platform was a post, office, to which the names of converts were sent daily to the city pastors. At the rear of the platform were desks and phones for the press. Everything was fireproof, including the sawdust. There was never a balcony. No more than two nails were hammered into any board so that it could be easily kicked down in case of an emergency requiring speedy exit.

His style of preaching was his own. It is estimated he walked a mile over his platform during each sermon. He would be in all kinds of positions before the service was over. The choir was always one tenth the size of the crowd. The song service lasted for 30 minutes, then Sunday preached for an hour and gave an invitation, personally shaking hands with all that came forward. It is said he could handshake 84 “trail-hitters” a minute. His Bible was always opened to Isaiah 61:1 every time he preached.

His prayer life was unique. He prayed privately, just as he prayed publicly. He did not pray for any long period, for he was never any long period away from prayer. He prayed as he dressed, and as he rode to the tabernacle. No formality was ever found.

His financial involvement was acceptable by all. The only offering that went to him was that which was collected on the final day of the crusade. All previous offerings went to pay the crusade expenses. And we have read what he did with the New York and Chicago offerings. His home at Winona Lake was simple, compared to that of Homer Rodeheaver.

His greatest opposition was because of his fight against the liquor traffic. His most famous sermon, “Get on the Water Wagon “lasted one hour and forty minutes. Prior to prohibition in eleven of fifteen Illinois towns where he campaigned, “dry” victories were won at the next election.

His family had mixed problems. His wife Helen (Ma) was very important to him and the crusades. She was the business manager and also made many important decisions for him that he turned over to her. There were four children, Helen (1891), George (1894), William Jr. (1902) and Paul (1908). George and William both had well publicized personal problems and divorces. In 1932, a daughter Helen died at age 42. She lived the longest of all the four children. In 1933, just before going out to preach, Billy Sunday was shattered by the news that George had committed suicide by leaping from a building. After that, Sunday’s ministry declined sharply. William Jr., died in 1938 and Paul in 1944.

It has been conjectured that although he was friends with Presidents Theodore Roosevelt, Warren Harding, Woodrow Wilson, Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover, he and his children were not as close as he later realized they should have been.

Strangely he was guilty of some things that showed he was not in the mold some would like to have others to be. He advocated the teaching of sex education in high schools. There is no evidence that he was ever baptized by immersion. He probably was not. During his Boston crusade he was asked by Unitarian ministers to speak to them which he did. His famed New York Crusade had him give 3,500 decision cards to Catholic churches, 900 to Jewish synagogues and 400 to Christian Science churches.

A word about his team. His songleader and choir director was Homer Rodeheaver who assisted him 1908-1927 for 20 years. Early songleaders were Fred Fisher 1900-1910 and later Homer Hammond tree 1927-1929 and Harry Clarke, 1932-1935. His piano player was B.D. Ackley, 1908-1915 and Robert Matthews 1916-1930. Many others were on the team serving in various capacities.

His funeral was conducted at Moody Memorial church, and officiated by pastor Harry Ironside. Harry Clarke and Homer Rodeheaver each gave a tribute and song. The main message was given by John Timothy Stone, famed Presbyterian pastor from Chicago. Dr. Ironside told of his conversion and gave a eulogy. The large congregation concluded by singing “0 That Will be Glory for Me.”

One of a kind – Billy Sunday, but then is this not true of you, too. The editor is indebted to Rick L. Rasberry, a former student for compiling some of the earlier material mentioned in this account.

Listed is a chronological record of his major crusades so you can see if he came to your town.

  • Richmond, VA Jan 12-Feb 23, 1919
  • St. Augustine, FL Mar 1919
  • Tampa, FL April-May 1919
  • Davenport, IA Sept -Oct 1919
  • Chattanooga, TN Nov-Dec 1919
  • Norfolk, VA Jan-Feb 1920
  • Bristol, VA Mar 5-Apr 1920
  • Oklahoma City, OK Ma May-June 1920
  • Roanoke, VA Sept 19-Oct 31, 1920
  • Jacksonville FL Nov-Dec, 1920
  • Fairmont W VA Jan-Feb 1921
  • Daytona 13each, FL Feb 17, 1921
  • Cincinnati, OH Mar 6-May 1, 1921
  • Bluefield, W VA May-June, 1921
  • Norton VA June-July 1921
  • Sioux Chity, IA Sept-Oct, 1921
  • Tulsa. OK Nov-Dec, 1921
  • Spartansburg~ SC Jan-Feb, 1922
  • Charleston, W VA Mar-Apr. 1922
  • Richmond, IN May-June, 1922
  • Morristown, TN June 1922
  • Lynchchburg , VA Sept-Oct, 1922
  • Dayton e, : Nov-Dec, 1922
  • Knoxville, TN Jan-Feb, 1923
  • Columbia, SC Mar-Apr, 1923
  • Louisville, KY Apr-May, 1923
  • Logan, W VA May-June, 1923
  • Beckley, W VA June-July, 1923
  • Niagara Falls, NY Sept-Oct, 1923
  • Charleston, SC Nov-Dec, 1923
  • Charlotte, NC Jan-Feb, 1924
  • Shreveport, LA Mar-Apr, 1924
  • Memphis, TN May-June, 1924
  • Elmira, NY Sept-Oct, 1924
  • Nashville t -TN Nov-Dec, 1924
  • Jackson, MS Dec 28, 1924- Feb 1, 1925
  • Memphis, TN Feb, 1925
  • Newport News, VA Mar Apr, 1925
  • Winston-Salem, NC May-June, 1925
  • Portland, OR Sept-Oct, 1925
  • Williamsport, PA Nov-Dec, 1925
  • Binghampton, NY Jan Feb, 1926
  • Cape Girardeau, MO Mar-Apr, 1926
  • Staunton, VA May-June, 1926
  • Monmouth, 11 Sept -Oct, 1926
  • Yakima, WA Nov-Dec, 1927
  • Mobile, AL Jan-Feb, 1927
  • Tampa, FL Mar-Apr, 1927
  • Aurora, 1L Apr 10-May 22, 1927
  • Bangor, MA May 29-July, 1927
  • West Frankfort, IL Oct-Nov, 1927
  • Petersburg, IN Dec 1927
  • St. Louis, MO Jan-Feb, 1928
  • Iola, KS – Mar-Apr, 1928
  • Greenville, NC May-June, 1928
  • Madisonville, KY Sept 16-Oct 27, 1928
  • East Liverpool, OH,.- . Nov-Dec, 1928
  • Elyria,OH Jan-Feb, 1929
  • Corpus Christi, TX Mar-Apr, 1929
  • Sterling, CO May-June 1929
  • Coffeyville, KS Sep t 15-Oct 27, 1929
  • Dodge City, KS Nov 3-Dec 15, 1929
  • Evansville, IN Jan-Feb, 1930
  • Wichita KS (2nd time) Feb, 1930
  • Philadelphia, PA (2nd time) Mar, 1930
  • Mt. Holly NJ Apr 13-May 18, 1930
  • Cleveland, OH Oct 20, 1930
  • Hutchinson, NY Nov 9-Dec 4, 1930
  • Los Angeles, CA Jan 25, 1931
  • Boston, Mass (2nd time) Feb 17-Mar 1. 1931
  • Washington, DC (2nd time) Apr 7, 1931
  • Livingston, MT Oct, 1931
  • Canton, OH Nov, 1931
  • Des Moines, IA Jan 15, 1933/Feb (4 wks)
  • Erie, PA Oct 22-30, 1933
  • New York churches (2nd time) Jan 7, 1934
  • Detroit, MI (2nd time) May 20-June 3, 1934
  • Knoxville, TN Apr 10-21, 1935

Credits: Ed Reeves, Fundamental Publishers

Billy Sunday, as a Bible believing Christian, knew that his place in Heaven was secured by repentance toward God and faith toward the Lord Jesus Christ and the blood He shed for our sins when He died on the cross of Calvary. Brother Smith is with the Lord Jesus Christ right now, but do you know, with 100% assurance, from God’s Word, that you will be with Jesus when you die?

If you do not have this assurance, please read:

God’s Simple Plan of Salvation

These things have I written unto you
that believe on the name of the Son of God;
that ye may know that ye have eternal life,
and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.

1John 5:13

C.T. Studd

Charles Thomas Studd

BORN: December 5, 1860
Northallerton, England
DIED: July 16, 1931
Ibambi, Africa
LIFE SPAN: 70 years, 7 months, 11 days

On January 13, 1877, Studd who had recently received $145,000 from an inheritance, put it all in the bank of heaven, and continued on with his work in China as a poor missionary. Before it was all over, he had also brought Christ to India, challenged students across America to Christian service, and pioneered a great work in Africa which was to become the World-wide Evangelization Cru­sade.

Edward Studd, retired planter had made a fortune in India and had come back to England to spend it. He was very fond of sports of all kinds. But above all was his love for horse racing. He bought, trained and raced horses.

A friend, Mr. Vincent, invited the elder Studd to attend the Moody­Sankey revival in London in the spring of 1875. Studd received Christ, counseled with Moody and made some notable changes. He withdrew from the turf, selling his horses, except for one each that he gave to his three sons.

His three eldest sons were J.E.K. (Kynaston), G.B. (George), and C.T. (Charlie). They were all at Eton College when their father was converted. He made arrangements to meet his sons, and surprised them when he stopped their carriage in front of a hall with a sign, “Moody and Sankey revival.” The boys thought they were going to a theater or the Christy Minstrels. The father said, “Boys, I might as well tell you now. I’ve been converted by Mr. Moody. No more racing and gambling. I’ve found the real thing.” The sons were amazed but made no move.

Now young C.T. had to escape being alone with his father when he was at home, for salvation would always come up as a topic. One year passed. Their father usually had preachers staying at his house on weekends. One weekend two preachers came. One afternoon, one of the preachers caught C.T. on his way to play cricket. “Are you a Christian?” he asked. His answer not being convincing enough, the guest pressed the point and finally down on his knees went C.T. and when he arose, his heart was filled with joy and peace. All three brothers were won to Christ that same day, and all became outstanding witnesses for the gospel. This was in 1876 when Studd was 16 years of age.

About this time Study was fast becoming the most outstanding cricket player in England. The brothers started a Bible class at Eton and CAT. stayed on two more years, becoming the captain of the cricket team in his last year. He finished at Eton in 1879 and enrolled at Trinity College, Cambridge, the next year, 1880A By 1882 he was considered one of the best cricket players in the world. He was probably the best known athlete of his day in England. He captained the team his last year at Cambridge 1883-84A He got his B.A.. degree and left Cambridge in 1885.

Study had been somewhat backslidden since his conversion, and it took the Moody-Sankey team meetings of 1882 at Cambridge University to straighten him out. He got a burden for souls, and a call from China seemed to be what he felt God wanted him to do. Soon six others from Cambridge University joined him in this goal and the “Cambridge Seven” became well known.

In February, 1885, they sailed for China arriving in Shanghai on March 18th. They at once began the study of the language seven to ten hours a day, donned Chinese garb, and ate with and like the Chinese.

It was on his 25th birthday (December of 1885) that he was to inherit $145,000. He had already determined it would go into the work of the Lord. He was alone at Chunking on that day. Perhaps Study was born in 1861 as we cannot account for a year. On January 13, 1887, he sent out four checks of $25,000 each and five of $5,000 each – a total of $125,000A He sent $25,000 to the following people:

DLL. Moody – expressing the hope that he would be able to start some gospel work at Tricot in North India, where his father had made his fortune. Moody used the money however to start Moody Bible Institute to train people to take the gospel into all the world.

George Mueller – $20,000 of which was to be used on missionary work and $5,000 for the work among the orphans.

George Holland in Whitechapel, to be used for the Lord among the poor in London. Holland had been a spiritual help to Study’s father.

Commissioner Booth Tucker for the Salvation Army in India. It was used to send out a party of 50 new officers, and came following a night of prayer for reinforcements.

In a few months he gave away several more thousands when he determined the exact amount of the inheritance. Most of this went to the China Inland Mission. He now had $17,000 left.

Priscilla Livingstone Steward arrived in Shanghai in 1887A She was from Belfast, Ireland. Studd arrived in Shanghai in April of that year. There was a Sailor’s Home where Miss Steward was working and where Study was trying to win the lost. Meetings were held and sailors were saved. Soon Miss Steward went to the center of China, and Study prepared to go North. Correspondence began in June and engagement was agreed upon on October 5th. Kneeling in the snow in March, 1888, praying for souls during an open-air meeting caused her to get pneumonia. Study himself had been at death’s door for weeks with pleurisy in both lungs, typhoid, and then pneumonia. He recovered just in time to come to Miss Stewart’s side. She got better. Everyone decided it was as good a time as ever, so Pastor Shi had a Christian ceremony, but they had to go to Tientsin to be married by the consul for official records’ sake. This was March 1888. Just before his marriage he presented his bride with the $17,000 remaining from the inheritance. She said, “Charlie, what did the Lord tell the rich young man to do? Sell all. Well then, we will start clear with the Lord at our wedding.” They wrote General Booth on July 3, 1888, and told him the Salvation Army would realine this last amount of funds. They left Tientsin with $5 and some bedding and for the next 41 years of marriage together God provided for them.

They went to an inland City, Lungang-Fu and the only house they could get was one considered haunted. For five years (1888-1892) they never went outside without a volley of curses from their neighbors. Finally opposition began to subside. Studd spent a good deal of time with an opium refuge for the victims of this drug. As many as 50 at a time would be there. During seven years some 800 went through the refuge, some saved as well as cured.

Their first child was born in 1889A Mrs. Studd had a relapse and almost died. Four more children were to follow, the fifth living just one day. Mrs. Studd never saw a doctor through all this. The four that lived were girls, Grace, Dorothy, Edith and PaulineA A sixth child was born after their return to England, a boy, but he only lived two days. Pauline married Norman Grubb, later WEC director.

In 1894 after ten years of service, the Lord directed them to return home to England, his asthmatic condition being a key factor. With four small children it was no easy job to journey to the coast. Naturally there was a royal welcome by Mrs. Studd (mother). The children knowing only Chinese now had to learn English culture and tongue. The health of the parents was poor, but soon Studd began to take meetings. Things were happening in the USA. Studd’s brother, J.E.K. at Moody’s request had toured the states telling the story of the “Cambridge Seven.” Students in America caught the fire, and two of their number began the Student Volunteer Move­ment, with amazing results. Hundreds were enrolled.

C.T. Study was invited to come. In 1896 he came and stayed for 18 months. He spoke as much as six times a day, seldom under an hour, had endless interviews with students. Outstanding things happen­ed in such places as Knoxville, Teen., in June; Lincoln, Nebraska in December; Minneapolis, Minx., in January of 1897.
Back in England from 1897 to 1900 gave him time for reflection, recuperation and readiness for the next assignment which was India. It was the father’s dying wish that some of the family would take the Gospel there. So they went, a better climate also appealing to them. However, his asthma which he had for years continued to plague him. He hardly slept except between 2 and 4 AM.. Night after night he was sitting up in a chair fighting for his breath. He was at Tricot for six months, then he became the pastor of the Union Church at Ootacamund in South India. The church reached out to all kinds of people, and a week never went by without one to three conversions transpiring. All four of his daughters made definite decisions for Christ and were baptized in India. The family returned to England in 1906.

From 1906 to 1908 he must have spoken to tens of thousands of men, many of whom never went to a religious service, but were drawn to hear him by his sporting reputation. Many made their decisions for Christ.

While in Liverpool in 1908 he saw a sign, “Cannibals want missionaries.” He sought out the author of the sign, a Dr. Karl Chum. Studd, now 50 felt the call to Africa. They talked together about opening Africa from the Nile to the Niger to Christian missionaries. This was the largest unevangelized region in Africa at this time. Penniless, turned down by a doctor, dropped by a committee, he persisted. God provided funds and on December 15, 1910, he left, sailing alone, leaving his wife behind. Arriving at Khartoum he had a delay of some weeks. Accompanied by Bishop Gwynedd, he set off for Southern Sudan. Joined by a third, they went by mule and foot on a 21/2 months-trek through malaria and sleeping sickness country. Of their 29 donkeys, 25 died. Back at Khartoum, Studd got a severe attack of malaria. While trekking in 1911 on the Nile they were told that beyond the southern frontier of the Sudan, in the Belgian Congo, between the Nile and Lake Chad were vast masses of people as depraved and destitute as those they had seen, who had never heard of Christ. He decided the rest of his life would be spent with this challenge.

Returning home briefly he visited Cambridge and stirred people to the depths with a challenge of the unevangelized world. He chal­lenged others to join him, set down a doctrinal statement, bought a missions headquarters, and in January 1913, was back in Africa. This time leaving his wife seemed harder. Studd simply believed “If Jesus Christ be God and died for me, then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for Him.” Studd’s one companion was Alfred B. Buxton and they journeyed through Kenya and Uganda to the shores of Lake Albert. They had a good reception from the Belgian official and were allowed to enter the Congo. Soon they were in the very heart of Africa, after nine months of arduous traveling, living in tents. They had now reached the fringes of the great tropical forest which stretches for hundreds of miles to the south and contains, though unknown to them at the time, the biggest popula­tion of the whole of Congo. This was October 16, 1913.

Immediate work started, clearing, planting and building. A mission house went up in a few weeks. Once a poisonous snake slept with Studd all night and never bit him. Only five years previous these natives had been shooting arrows at every new arrival. Within two years the heart of Africa was surveyed, four strategic centers chosen, covering some hundreds of miles and involving about eight tribes. These included Napa (5 days south of Niagara), Poke (five days northeast of Napa), and Bambili (six days beyond Napa). Now Studd and Buxton split. Studd continued going 300 miles beyond Bambili to the Congo River, then 700 miles to the mouth, and then on to England to find more recruits. Buxton met a new party of five to open the work at Napa, plus reducing the language to writing. Buxton also had the first baptismal service at Niangara on June 19, 1915, during Studd’s absence, with 12 converts.

Studd arrived home in late 1914 to find his wife very ill, but faithfully carrying on the home-base operations. She formed prayer centers, issued monthly pamphlets by the thousands, wrote often 20 to 30 letters a day, planned and edited the first issues of a magazine. He issued the most stirring appeals that pen could write through his magazine. A farewell rally was fixed for July 14, 1916, with the actual departure July 24th. This would be Studd’s last day home in England. This would also be the third time he had to leave his wife, which does not get any easier as the years go by. He still had 15 years of ministry and was only to see his wife for two weeks during the remaining years.

A party of eight did go back with him, including his daughter Edith who was to marry Alfred Buxton. Arriving at Napa was an amazing experience for Studd. He had left a few deserted houses, now there were many Christians and a vibrant work. Then on to Niangara where the first white wedding in Africa’s heart was to be conducted. Studd settled at Napa and scattered his staff to man the other three strategic centers already named. In January, 1917, some 15 or 20 members of the native church went out to preach for three months. In April some 50 now wanted to go and preach plus they just baptized 81 more converts. By August 50 more desired baptism.

Soon a work was opened in the Ituri Province, which was to eventually surpass the work in the Welle Province where the original four stations were. Studd visited that area in June, 1918, and was amazed at what he saw. The station at Deti Hill had many Christians, large crowds and many converts. Things slowed down as the war halted new missionaries from coming and Buxton and his wife took a well deserved furlough 1919-21. In 1920 early prayer meetings seemed to be the only encouraging thing going for Studd as he was having a terrible irritation of arms and legs with many bad ulcers on his feet and ankles. However, beginning in 1919 new workers began to be sent and by 1922 the missionary population had grown from six to 40 including daughter Pauline and her husband. Buxton’s return in 1921 to Nala, freeing Studd for pioneer evangel­istic work up in the Ituri Province, was encouraging. Tribe after tribe now wanted missionaries.

In the Ituri forest, four days south of Nala, lived a big chief named Ibambi. His village was the center of a great population. In 1922 Studd moved his headquarters here. Ibambi became the name given the place. Natives came by the hundreds to be taught and baptized. Almost every day one could hear hymns of people coming from various directions. He began to go into the forest area around about. Up at Imbai (5 hours away) a house of God to seat 1,200 was built. Over to Adzangwe (3 hours away) saw 500 to 600 worshipping the Lord on Sunday. Studd’s health began to fail badly. Many urged him to go home to England, but it was as if he was in the midst of an amazing black-skinned revival, something he had already given his life for, so he felt he must stay on. Now six stations were operating in Ituri Province in addition to the first four original ones in Welle Province.

Back in England a miracle of sorts happened. The day after Studd left in 1916 his wife got off the invalid’s bed never to return. She began to live the life of a whirlwind, and the salvation of souls, plus the care of her children were the only things she lived for. She traveled in behalf of her Lord and her husband to the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Tasmania, and South Africa. She was considered one of the finest missionary speakers in the world. By 1921 Mrs. Studd expanded the headquarters at home. Previously in 1919 Gilbert Barclay, husband of daughter Dorothy became Over­seer of the Home Office. The mission title was changed from Heart of Africa Mission to Worldwide Evangelization Crusade.

But we must go back to Africa where the beloved “Bwana” continued to minister. A time of crisis developed, natives were saved but not really controlled by the Holy Spirit; some missionaries were rebelling against his leadership as too rigid. Studd built the work on living in native-built houses, plainest of foods, no holidays, no recreations, only complete absorption in saving the heathen. A number of missionaries resigned and two were dismissed. In 1925 some eight missionaries joined Studd in a great time of soul­searching and mighty power fell upon them, and the mission was reborn in harmony and power. The blessings spread to the remotest station. Soon the desire of his heart was to see a Spirit-filled church in the heart of Africa. Up to 2,000 would gather at such places as Imbai if they knew Studd was going to be there. He wrote nearly 200 hymns, which he accompanied on a banjo. We have already mentioned the Bangala language used in Welle Province, but in the Ituri Province the language was Kingwana, and so Studd, equal to the task was determined to translate the New Testament into this dialect. Quite a feat for a man nearing 70. He worked at it night and day, some 18 hours per session, with no meals but what he gulped down while writing. While he translated, Jack Harrison typed and at the end of the day would have to gently massage Studd before he could sit up straight again. He finished it, plus Psalms and Proverbs. His payment for this, heart attack after heart attack. In 1928 nobody thought he would live for a week, and only a Belgian Red Cross doctor’s treatment with various drugs revived him. By continuing to use morphia he could gain temporary strength to work and preach. He still had 3 more years to live. Studd had asthma, recurring malaria, dysentery, chills, pains of gallstones ever with him in varying combinations, yet he continued 8 to 18 hours per day to address, often for hours, thousands of black creatures, telling them of Jesus Christ.

In 1928 his beloved wife, whom he had not seen in twelve years, and whom he had only been with for about two years since 1910 when he left for Africa, who herself had come through so much difficulty, and who was to die one year later, visited Egypt and then paid him a visit for two weeks. Some 2,000 Christians gathered to meet her. The natives had always been told that their Bwana’s wife was at home, so busy getting white men and women to come out and tell them about Jesus, that she could not come herself. But when they saw her in person they began to understand in a way that no words could convey, the sacrifice that Studd and his wife had paid to bring salvation to them. The parting was terrible. They said good­bye to each other in his bamboo house, knowing it was the last time they would meet on earth. They went to a waiting motor car down the path from the house without another word being said. She got in with set face and eyes straight ahead in front of her and was gone. In 1929 she died while on a visit to Malaga, Spain.

Studd was soon to join her. On Sunday, July 12, 1931, Studd seemed fit, conducting a five-hour meeting at Ibambi. On Monday he asked for an injection of quinine as he felt cold and thought he had some fever- At night there was much pain which was diagnosed as gallstones. Tuesday and Wednesday his condition worsened. Thursday was his coronation day; he got so weak he could hardly talk. He did murmur “heart bad” and when asked if he was going to leave said, “very likely.” With each little breath he could spare he could only say, “Hallelujah! Hallelujah!” By 7 p.m. he was uncon­scious and at 10:30 p.m. he was gone. Nearly 2,000 blacks, including four chiefs, were at the funeral the next day. He was buried in a simple grave.

Go Ye into the world and preach the Gospel to every creature … England … China … America … India . . . Africa. There is little doubt he received a special, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant” as he joined his wife for a well deserved vacation, something he never knew down on earth.

The main source of information for this story comes from the book, C.T. Studd, Cricketer and Pioneer by Norman C. Grubb.

– Ed Reeves, Fundamental Publishers

C.T. Studd, as a Bible believing Christian, knew that his place in Heaven was secured by repentance toward God and faith toward the Lord Jesus Christ and the blood He shed for our sins when He died on the cross of Calvary. C.T. Studd is with the Lord Jesus Christ right now, but do you know, with 100% assurance, from God’s Word, that you will be with Jesus when you die?

If you do not have this assurance, please read:

God’s Simple Plan of Salvation

These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God;
that ye may know that ye have eternal life,
and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.

1John 5:13

Lester Roloff

Lester Roloff

BORN: June 28, 1914
Dawson, Texas
DIED: November 2, 1982
LIFE SPAN: 68 years, 4 months, 4 days

LESTER ROLOFF was a perfect example of a modern day prophet. In all his years of serving God he set the example for all who believe, man ought to obey God rather than men. Roloff was constantly engaged in battle against some of the forces of the state of Texas, primarily the Welfare Department – they would silence or greatly curtail his ministry if they could. The irony of it all is that he had done nothing but help change lives of countless youngsters who had nobody else to help them. It is hard to believe that the story you are now going to read could happen in America.

Roloff was born on a farm ten miles south of Dawson, Texas, to Christian parents. He was saved in a little country church called Shiloh Baptist when about twelve in a revival in July, 1926 under the ministry of John T. Taylor. High School was completed in Dawson. Reared on a farm he took his milk cow and went off to Baylor University in 1933 and milked his way through college. He graduated in 1937 with an A.B. degree.

While at Baylor he was far from idle. He started pastoring among the Southern Baptists in a succession of pastorates. First was the Prairie Grove Mills Baptist Church in Navarro County where he had 67 converted in a revival to begin things. He also preached at his hometown church at Shiloh which was located outside of Dawson. Then he preached a revival at the First Baptist Church of Purden, Texas, and had 143 additions, baptizing some 100 of them. This led to his call there while he retained the ministry at Navarro Mills. This latest venture happened his last year in college.

Roloff went on to Southwestern Seminary in Fort Worth for three years, 1937 to 1940 while he maintained his ministry at Purden, going then to the First Baptist Church of Trinidad, Texas, his last year in Seminary.

He married Marie Brady on August 10, 1936 at the First Baptist Church of Galveston, Texas. They had two daughters, (Elizabeth, born June 20, 1937) and Pamela Kay, an adopted daughter.

From 1941 to 1944 he pastored the Magnolia Park Baptist Church in Houston, Texas, which had great crowds and much blessing. He was president of the local pastor’s conference during some of this time.

In 1944 he went to Corpus Christi where he remained the rest of his life. The Park Ave. Baptist Church extended a call to him where he went in March. On October 15, 1944, the church burned, and later property was purchased in another location of town and the church became known as the Second Baptist Church which he pastored from 1944 to 1951 with some 3,300 additions during this time. A branch mission church was started called the West Heights Baptist Church.

Roloff began a radio ministry on May 8, 1944 with his Family Altar Program, first broadcast over a 250-watt station locally Soon it was on more than 22 stations, approximately 65 hours a week, gradually increasing to 150 stations. Some of the broadcasts were 15 minutes in length, some one-half hour. Starting on the small KEYS station it had an interesting history. He was kicked off the radio ten months after he started; his fight against liquor being a prime reason. The next day he started to broadcast on KWBU, a 50,000-watt station where he held forth for eight years. In 1954 they decided to remove him because he was a controversial figure. Some businessmen bought the station and he was again on the air for a year. Then total programming conveniently removed him. The owners then lost $70,000 in one year. Roloff decided to try and buy the station and asked how much they wanted. The answer was $300,000 and he did not have a dime. However, with the help of God and the money of friends, $25,000 was put down as earnest money with $100,000 needed 90 days later. He had it all but $7,250 on the last day and $250 the last hour, but 45 minutes before the 2 p.m. deadline it was all there! Others of course became stockholders and owned the station, but Roloff was the vehicle used to get it (called KCIA) in the right hands.

Roloff founded the Park Avenue Christian Day School in 1946. The school operated a kindergarten and continued through upper grades. His headquarters continued at the Park Avenue Day School, located on the property of the former Park Avenue Church.

In April, 1951 he resigned as pastor of Second Baptist Church to enter full time evangelism. He founded the Roloff Evangelistic Enterprises, a non-profit organization which sponsored many projects of faith. In May, 1955 he printed his first issue of Faith Enterprise, a quarterly publication dedicated to the salvation of lost souls and strengthening believers.

In August of 1954, with convictions about being independent, founded a church in Corpus Christi which was to be called the Alameda Baptist Church. He and four others put up $2,500 on ten and four-tenths acres of ground, and it was organized with 126 members on October, 24. He pastored there until about 1961.

On March 13, 1956, Roloff stood in Waco Hall, in Waco, Texas; and spoke to more than 2,000 giving his swan song to Baylor University. He stated all the issues in no uncertain terms.


Other ministries soon developed. Roloff described at least major ministries that he was responsible for.. .

Thirty years ago, we started the Good Samaritan Rescue Mission that is still in operation. More than twenty years ago, the CITY OF REFUGE was started in an old Quonset hut given by Dr. Logan and put together by alcoholics at Lexington, Texas. The City of Refuge is now located in Culloden, Georgia, on 273 acres of an old antebellum home with lovely dormitories for men and women.

The LIGHTHOUSE houseboat was built by Brother E.A. Goodman and taken down the Intracoastal Canal in 1958. On the way down, a boy fell off and went under this boat and just missed the propeller. He was rescued by an unsaved boy who was going down to the Lighthouse for help, and one of our preacher boys, Bob Smith, who is now a missionary. This is where Bill Henderson, Ricky Banning and many others found God’s will for their lives. We have preacher boys that have come to the Lighthouse to study for the ministry in other Christian schools. I have just dealt with three eighteen year old boys in Corpus Christi within the last week who are drug addicts. The Lighthouse is located forty miles down the Intracoastal Canal from Corpus Christi and it can only be reached by plane or by boat.

The PEACEFUL VALLEY HOME for our older retired Christian friends is the prayer place. It is located near Mission and Edinburg, Texas, with many acres of citrus fruit and lovely vegetables that are grown there in the midst of a lot of nice weather. This home is just for Christians who want to retire in a lovely place and still be of service to others. It began in 1969.

The ANCHOR HOME FOR BOYS with three big two-story buildings for dormitories, a cafeteria, gymnasium, shop building and dining room, is located at Zapata, Texas. It has a capacity for nearly three hundred boys.

The BETHESDA HOME FOR GIRLS in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, is for girls in trouble. It is a very beautiful home, located on Blue Lake, for both pregnant and delinquent girls. It has made many friends and received a warm welcome in Mississippi.

The REBEKAH HOME FOR GIRLS, located in Corpus Christi, Texas, is our largest home. We have had fifteen hundred girls in about seven years and the three dormitories have a capacity of about three hundred beds. It is located on 440 acres of land. This has been the most miraculous work we have ever seen and has been fought and despised by the devil. I have never seen such miracles in all of my ministry.

The REBEKAH CHRISTIAN ACADEMY is the school for the Rebekah Home. It has a beautiful two story, air conditioned building with the finest of equipment.


From 1961 to 1973 Roloff was developing these varied enterprises, and ministering as an evangelist in many churches, plus carrying on his radio ministry. He was an experienced pilot having flown about 12,000 hours in his 1966 Queen Air that a friend helped him to get, and also his 1968 Cessna Skywagon that was used for Lighthouse work which could land on the beach with people and provisions. These planes belonged to the Enterprise and had their own mechanic and radio men to maintain them and help fly them.

Roloff landed his plane at least four times on one engine, and in unusual places such as a highway. His flying lessons began in 1958.

His themes all through the years were “Christ is the Answer” and “Now the Just Shall Live by Faith.”

The last of his varied works of good will – which, by the way, make no charges for those that they help, is the Rebekah Home in Corpus Christi which has been the scene of recent controversy. This was founded in 1967 along with the Peoples Church, a place where girls in trouble can worship as they get straightened out. This school specializes in taking cases other agencies and homes refuse to take. And no wonder – Roloff got results. He ran his schools by Bible directives and naturally got Bible results – changed lives. Over $3 million dollars was tied up in the Rebekah project alone.

In September, 1970, the Gulf Coast storm, “Celia” hit but miraculously did not touch the Lighthouse, nor their home, although severe damage was most everywhere else. In 1971, their homes were filled to capacity, and they had to start turning people away. In May, 1972, the Roloffs moved into their lovely large new home on the acreage where the Rebekah Home and other buildings were already located. Another 118 acres of land was purchased. It had a runway on it for their plane, and they could farm some of the remaining acres. During the summer of 1972, workers built another big two-story building, which became the Rebekah Christian School.

At the close of 1972, they had four days of dedication for the following new items: Chapel at the Intracoastal Canal; their new home; the land adjoining the Enterprises property; a big new boys’ home at Zapata, Texas; five new units at the Peaceful Valley Home; the high two-story dormitory at the Rebekah Home; the two-story Rebekah School; and the People’s Church, which is nearly two blocks long.

The battle with the state of Texas developed ironically out of one of the most compassionate ministries done anywhere. Rebekah Home was founded as a place to help girls in trouble by giving them the answer which is Christ. A Dallas probation officer attests to the fact that the place to send young people in trouble is Roloffs work. Children rejected elsewhere are welcomed with open arms and a book could be told of the amazing changed lives. Some of the young men from the Lighthouse have married some of the girls from Rebekah Home (the bumble bees meet the honey bees).

The talk of licensing began in 1971 which threatened to shut the work down unless they conformed to rules and regulations that would have greatly increased the cost of the operation without improving on what they were doing. Roloffs legal problems began in April, 1973 when the state welfare department filed a suit in an attempt to have his Rebekah Home licensed. Had Roloff agreed to do this, he would then have had to follow welfare department guidelines, which would be totally alien to Bible principles and philosophy upon which the girls’ home was founded. Roloff had no desire to fight the welfare department or put them out of business, but simply wanted this unconstitutional interference to stop. It is government interference with religion. “Licensing a church home is as unnecessary and wrong as licensing a church” Roloff contended. At issue is the constitutional principal of separation of church and state.

If licensed, the home would be required to hire a home supervisor who holds a degree in social work and who is approved by the welfare department. That supervisor would be required to complete an additional fifteen hours of college level social studies every two years. Not only that, but the home would be required to file financial reports regularly with the state welfare department. The home would also have to hire one state-approved worker for every eight girls. The home would also be forced to serve foods from a menu prepared by the welfare department. The welfare department also objects to Bible discipline, which would have to be eliminated. One could readily see that Roloff would not be running the home he gave birth to, so naturally he chose to fight this invasion of privacy. When the welfare officials appeared, he asked them what they wanted. When they presented new rules he simply took out his Bible and told them he was satisfied with God’s rules.

On August 3, an injunction was signed in which Roloff was enjoined from operating a child care institution without a license for those under sixteen years of age. On October 5, 1973, a district judge heard the case and fined Roloff $500 and $80 court costs for contempt of court when he refused welfare guidelines. With Roloff refusing to have the home licensed the welfare department leveled charges of brutality against the home based upon the testimony of a few of the girls. This adverse publicity was wide spread. It was found that of the 1,500 girls who have spent time at Rebekah Home, fewer than a dozen could be found that would testify against it. One set of parents was found willing to testify for the welfare department. None of the 1,490 who were helped or thankful for the home or their parents were consulted.

Finally on January 31, 1974 the case went to court again in Corpus Christi and Roloff was found guilty – fined $5,400 and sentenced to five days in the county jail on contempt of court charges. The court also ordered him to “purge the home” which would mean to “dump the girls into the street.” On February 4th, he was given the opportunity to present his argument on the constitutionality of state licensing of a church operated home before the Provisions Committee of the Texas Senate. What was to have been a five minute presentation blossomed into a three-hour session when the senators began questioning Roloff on the accomplishments and problems of Rebekah Home. His jail term was limited to one day, February 12th, pending appeal to the Texas State Supreme Court, and the fine was stayed as well, pending appeal. He was released from jail on a writ of habeas corpus.

On March 24, 1974, Roloff and his attorneys appeared before the nine judges of the State Supreme Court of Texas in a hearing to determine if a discharge of the charges could be obtained. This request was made on the grounds that the judgment was ambiguous and unclear in that it does not define what age constitutes a child or children. The former policy was that individuals up to age sixteen were considered children, but a recent state attorney general’s ruling stated a person to be a child up to age eighteen. Questions were also raised in the minds of the judges as to what constituted a childcare home. Answers were unclear from the welfare department and in one instance, contradictory. The high court agreed that children sixteen or over could be cared for by Roloff and as a result overturned the contempt of court charges May 20, 1974. Roloff received the news May 29, while at Bob Jones University in Greenville, S.C., receiving an award “for those who have made special contributions to the defense of the faith.” The Austin decision of the Supreme Court, however, did not end the fight.

The welfare department had been adamant in getting the under eighteen years of age law declared as needing a welfare license. Roloff continued to help girls of any age that came to him for help. He estimated that while he couldn’t actively recruit for the younger ages, had there been no harassment, he could have handled up to 700 young people over against his approximate 200 that were now cared for.

To illustrate the problem, two girls, ages 13 and 15 ran away after two warnings for other offenses. They were told they would be spanked for the next violation. They were found four days later in a locked bar. They had spent this time with ten men and had a woeful story to tell. Roloff kept his word and spanked them. Word got out about the incident and Roloff was served a summons for child abuse. At the hearing the girls admitted the offenses and the spankings. The judge declared Roloff could keep them until the trial. Roloff refused until the judge would ask them a question as to where they would like to go – back to Roloff or to some alternate arrangement. Hugging their “daddy” with great affection they said they wanted to be with Brother Roloff.

By March 1975, the Texas Welfare Department had filed against Roloff again for contempt and for being in violation of their rules and regulations. They had built up to 200 girls at Rebekah Home, half of what they had previously when forced to close. Even more tragic is that they turned away 3,000 during this time.

A legislative bill slipped through the Texas Senate on March 13, 1975, clearly aimed, many people feel, at outlawing his homes and work. It passed through the Texas House in May 1975. In June, another court order was issued whereby Roloff would be held in further contempt if he did not allow inspection of the premises of their homes. He allowed the inspections having nothing to hide.

On July 4 and 5, 1975, a great rally was held in Garland and Dallas where hundreds of people gathered to join in the battle, with such as Jack Hyles and Bob Jones, III addressing the crowds. On July 25, shortly thereafter the Lighthouse dormitory burned to the ground. Later a young boy got saved and confessed to setting the fire.

It seems that Roloff’s case was being considered a test case by many. What happens may determine the ultimate status of many other preachers.

By January 1, 1976, the new guidelines by the welfare department become law making it illegal for unlicensed homes to take in children under the age of eighteen. In May 1976, a judges order instructed Roloff Enterprises to allow state welfare workers to inspect the homes. This time Roloff refused. On June 3rd, a great rally with some 400 people was held in Austin, preceding Roloffs court appearance to fight state licensing. Again he was put in jail on June 21. He was released June 25th just prior to his 62nd birthday. He was fined $1,750. In the fall of 1976 a final ruling was laid down giving him freedom until the Supreme Court of the United States would hear his case.

On November 1, 1977 a great freedom rally was held at the convention center in Dallas. Great crowds came including over 1,500 preachers and public sentiment again swelled for Roloff. Nearly a year later, on October 2, 1978, the Supreme Court ruled against hearing the case from Corpus Christi. Attorney General John Hill of Texas said the case was frivolous, and the justices must have believed it. Appearing on nation-wide television “60 Minutes” with Mike Wallace on October 22nd gave Roloff some national favorable coverage long overdue. Then on November 7, this same thorn-in-the-flesh Hill was defeated in his bid for governor of Texas by William Clements in a very close election. Clements had indicated he would use his powers to free Roloff from all charges. Perhaps justice would still be mete out.

Roloffs battle with Texas authorities continued through most of his life. There were times when things were calm, and times when he was in court or in jail.

On the way to a meeting he with three of his staff flew into some turbulent weather and it is conjectured a wing disengaged from his aircraft. This was the end as the plane plummeted to earth killing all of the occupants. On the day of his death it was an ironic turn of events, for his chief antagonist, Mark White was elected governor of Texas. Long time friend, Jack Hyles conducted the funeral a couple days later in a civic auditorium in Corpus Christi, Texas. The work with some modifications has carried on, but some facilities have been terminated and moved to other states.

– Ed Reeves, Fundamental Publishers

Lester Roloff, as a Bible believing Christian, knew that his place in Heaven was secured by repentance toward God and faith toward the Lord Jesus Christ and the blood He shed for our sins when He died on the cross of Calvary. Brother Roloff is with the Lord Jesus Christ right now, but do you know, with 100% assurance, from God’s Word, that you will be with Jesus when you die?

If you do not have this assurance, please read:

God’s Simple Plan of Salvation

These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God;
that ye may know that ye have eternal life,
and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.

1John 5:13

Gipsy Smith

Rodney (Gipsy) Smith

BORN: March 31, 1860
Wanstead, England
DIED: August 4, 1947
Atlantic Ocean
LIFE SPAN: 87 years, 4 months, 4 days

Gipsy Smith was, perhaps, the best loved evangelist of all time. When he would give his life story, the crowds that came to hear usually overflowed the halls and auditoriums. His trips across the Atlantic Ocean were so numerous that historians seemingly disagree on the exact number.

Born in a gipsy tent six miles northeast of London, at Epping Forest, he received no education. The family made a living selling baskets, tinware and clothes pegs. His father Cornelius, and his mother, Mary (Polly) Welch, provided a home that was happy in the gipsy wagon, despite the fact that father played his violin in the pubs at this time. Young Rodney would dance and collect money for the entertainment. Yet he never drank or smoked, which may have contributed to his longevity.

Cornelius was in and out of jail for various offences, usually because he couldn’t afford to pay his fines. Here he first heard the gospel from the lips of a prison chaplain. He tried to explain to his dying wife what he heard.

Rodney was still a small lad when his mother died from smallpox. A child’s song that she had heard sung twenty years previous about Jesus came back to her, comforting her as she passed on. Her dying words were, “I believe. Be a good father to my children. I know God will take care of my children.” Rodney never forgot seeing his mother buried by lantern-light at the end of a lane in Hertfordshire. God did take care of the children as the four girls and two boys (Rodney was the fourth child) grew up under the stern eye of their father. They all went into Christian service.

Following his wife’s death, Cornelius had no power to be good. One day he met his brothers, Woodlock and Bartholomew, and found they too hungered after God. At a tavern at the Barnwell end of town, they stopped and talked to the woman innkeeper about God. She groaned that she was troubled also and ran upstairs to find a copy of Pilgrim’s Progress. Hearing this read to them, they decided this is what they wanted. Cornelius encountered a road worker who was a Christian and inquired where a gospel meeting might be found. He was invited to the Latimer Road Mission where he eagerly attended the meeting with all his children. As the people sang the words, “I do believe, I will believe that Jesus died for me,” and There is a Fountain Filled With Blood, Cornelius fell to the floor unconscious. Soon he jumped up and said, “I am converted! Children, God has made a new man of me. You have a new father!” Rodney ran out of the church thinking his father had gone crazy. The two brothers of the father were also converted, (Bartholomew, the same night). Soon the three formed an evangelistic team and went roaming over the countryside preaching and singing the gospel. Now Cornelius would walk a mile on Saturday night for a bucket of water rather than travel on Sunday! From 1873 on, “The Converted Gipsies” were used in a wonderful way with Cornelius living until age ninety-one.

Soon after their conversion, Christmas came, and the six children asked their father, “What are we going to have tomorrow?” The father sadly replied, “I do not know, my boy,” The cupboard was bare and the purse was empty. The father would no longer play the fiddle in his accustomed saloons. Falling on his knees, he prayed, then told his children, “I do not know what we will have for Christmas dinner, but we shall sing.” And sing, they did …

Then we’ll trust in the Lord, And He will provide; Yes, we’ll trust in the Lord, And he will provide.

A knock sounded on the side of the van. “It is I,” said Mr. Sykes, the town missionary. “I have come to tell you that the Lord will provide. God is good, is He not?” Then he told them that three legs of mutton and other groceries awaited them and their relatives in the town. It took a wheelbarrow to bring home the load of groceries and the grateful gypsies never knew whom God used to answer their prayers. Prayer now took on a new meaning, as the teen-ager heard father pray, “Lord, save my Rodney.”

Rodney’s conversion as a sixteen-year-old came as a result of a combination of things. The witness of his father, the hearing of Ira Sankey sing, the visit to the home of John Bunyan in Bedford all contributed. Standing at the foot of the statue of Bunyan, Smith vowed he would live for God and meet his mother in heaven. A few days later in Cambridge, he attended the Primitive Methodist Chapel on Fitzroy Street. George Warner, the preacher, gave the invitation and Rodney went forward. Somebody whispered, “Oh, it’s only a gipsy boy.” This was November 17, 1876, and he rushed home to tell his father that he had been converted. He got a Bible, English dictionary and Bible dictionary and carried them everywhere causing people to laugh. “Never you mind,” he would say, “One day I’ll be able to read them,” adding “and I’m going to preach too. God has called me to preach.” He taught himself to read and write and began to practice preaching. One Sunday he went into a turnip field and preached to the turnips. He would sing hymns to the people he met and was known as the singing gipsy boy. At seventeen, he stood on a small corner some distance from the gipsy wagon and gave a brief testimony … his first attempt at preaching.

One day at a convention at the Christian Mission (later the Salvation Army) headquarters in London, William Booth noticed the gypsies and realized that young Rodney had a promising future. He asked the young lad to preach on the spot. Smith sang a solo and gave a good testimony. Though he didn’t try to be funny, there was a touch of sunshine in his ministry. On June 25, 1877, he accepted the invitation of Booth to be an evangelist with and for the Mission. His youngest sister was converted in one of his early meetings.

For six years (1877-1882), he served on street corners and mission halls in such areas as Whitby, Sheffield, Bolton, Chatham, Hull, Derby and Hanley.

He was married on December 17, 1879 to Annie E. Pennock, one of his converts from Whitby, and their first assignment together was at Chatham. Here the crowd grew from 13 to 250 in nine months. Their first child, Albany, was born December 31, 1880. Then it was six months in Hull in 1881. Here the name “Gipsy” Smith first began to circulate. Meetings at the Ice House grew rapidly and soon 1,500 would attend an early Sunday prayer meeting. A meeting for converts drew 1,000. Then came Derby with defeats and discouragements. However, the Moody 1881 visit in London was a big encouragement. Their last move was to Hanley, in December 1881. He considered this his second home for the rest of his life. By June 1882, great crowds were coming and the work was growing. On July 31st a gold watch was given him and about $20.00 was presented to his wife by the warm-hearted folks there. Acceptance of these gifts was a breach of the rules and regulations of the Salvation Army, and for this, he was dismissed from them. The love in Hanley was returned by Smith, for when his second son was born on August 5th, he named him Alfred Hanley. His eight assignments with the Salvation Army had produced 23,000 decisions and his crowds were anywhere up to 1,500.

Now Cambridge became Gipsy Smith’s permanent home for the rest of his life. However, the urging of the people at Hanley to return as an independent preacher was strong. So he returned – ministering there for four years. Crowds reached 4,000 at the Imperial Circus building which was used for three months during this time. These were the largest crowds in the country outside of London. At one pre-service prayer meeting in 1882, the crowd of 300, including Smith, toppled to the room below as the floor collapsed under them injuring seventy people! In 1883 came his first trip abroad with a visit to Sweden and on February 1, 1884, his third child was born … a girl named Rhoda Zillah. His brief appearance on the program of the Congregational Union of England and Wales Convention swamped him with several offers. Because of this, he traveled extensively from 1886 to 1888, hampered for nine months during 1886 with a throat ailment.

On January 18, 1889, Gipsy Smith left Liverpool for his first trip to America arriving later in the month on a wet Sunday morning. He didn’t know a soul in America. He had nothing but credentials from friends back home which he used to introduce himself to some church leaders. Similar to Moody’s experience some years earlier in England, the ones who had originally invited him had either died or become indifferent. Dr. Prince of the Nostrand Avenue Methodist Episcopal Church of Brooklyn opened up his pulpit for a three week crusade with him. The 1,500 seat auditorium was jammed and between 300 and 400 people found the Lord. Following this, he traveled from Boston to San Francisco thrilling large audiences with his story and message. When he returned to England later in the year, he became assistant to F.S. Collier, of the Manchester Wesleyan Mission. Meetings were greatly used of God in a ten day campaign there. The midnight service saw people leaving theatres and bars to come in. Busy as he now was, he never grew tired of visiting gipsy encampments whenever he could on both sides of the Atlantic.

His second trip to America was in August 1891. The old James Street Methodist Church of New York, with Pastor Stephen Merrit, hosted his first meeting in September. There was a great revival. He went to Ocean Grove, New Jersey, a Methodist camp ground with a 10,000 seat auditorium. After a couple sermons here where he made many new friends, he returned to the Brooklyn church mentioned previously for a repeat crusade. Then a month long crusade was held at the Calvary Methodist Episcopal Church of New York with Pastor James Roscoe Day. Many were saved. A good series followed back in Edinburg, Scotland in 1892. From this series came the Gipsy Gospel Wagon Mission, devoted to evangelistic work amongst his own people.

In 1892, he took his third trip to America, this time with his wife. He was invited to hold special “drawing room meetings” for some of the elite in one of the largest mansions on Fifth Avenue in New York City. It was not a public meeting, but personal letters were sent to various aristocratic ladies of New York, inviting them to be present. There were to be six meetings and at the first there were 175 ladies present. Facing Mrs. John D. Rockefeller, and such, he simply preached on “Repentance”. He said, “I only remembered that they were sinners needing a Savior.” He visited Ocean Grove, Lynn, Massachusetts, and Philadelphia in meetings sponsored by the Methodists. The newspaper coverage was good to Gipsy in a united campaign in Yonkers, New York. Denver, Colorado was exceedingly generous to them. From September, 1893 to January, 1894, he returned to Glasgow, Scotland for a seven week crusade in seven different churches over a five month period. The whole city was stirred.

On May 22, 1894, Gipsy Smith arrived in Australia and began a six week campaign in Adelaide. Then on to Melbourne and Sydney where he received a cable that his wife was very sick. This aborted his visit here after only three months, but 2,000 people came to his send-off. Stopping in New York, the news was that his wife was some better so he spent time at Ocean Grove and in an Indianapolis crusade. It was here that an old man felt Gipsy’s head saying, “I am trying to find your bumps, so that I can find the secret of your success.” Smith replied, “You must come down here,” and placed the man’s hand upon his heart. Home, in November, he found his wife regaining her health. In 1895 he went to London for three months and then on to Alexander MacLaren’s church in Manchester. Thorough preparation here produced 600 converts in an eight-day meeting. Then is was on to other towns, Swansee, Wales and back to Edinburgh, Scotland.

On January 1, 1896 he made his fifth trip to America and held a great campaign in the Peoples Temple in Boston. This was the city’s largest Protestant Church, with Pastor James Body Brady. Gipsy saw a sign outside the church, Gipsy Smith, the Greatest Evangelist in the World. He made them take it down. The four week crusade went seven weeks with 800 being received into the church. He then had a good campaign with Pastor Hugh Johnstone at the Metropolitan Episcopal Church of Washington, D.C. There he met President Grover Cleveland, one of the two presidents he was to meet, and also had blind 70 year old Fanny Crosby on his platform one night, singing one of her hymns. Upon his return home, he was made a special missionary of the National Free Church Council from 1897 to 1912. Staying in England for a while, his 1899 crusade at Luton had 1,100 converts and his 1900 crusade at the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London had 1,200 converts. A Birmingham, England crusade resulted in 1,500 converts.

One of the high-lights of his life was his trip to South Africa in 1904 (age 44). He took his wife along. His daughter, Zillah, was the soloist. They spend six months there. He closed out in Cape Town on May 10th seeing some 3,000 come to the inquiry rooms during his crusade there. A tent meeting in Johannesburg started on June 9th in a 3,000 seat tent. He finally left in September, and it was estimated that 300,000 attended his meetings with 18,000 decisions for Christ during the whole African tour.

The 1906 crusade in Boston, Massachusetts was one of his most renown. Under the auspices of the Boston Evangelical Alliance and personal sponsorship of A.Z. Conrad, Smith conducted 50 meetings at Tremont Temple attended by 116,500 people. Decision cards totaled 2,290.

In 1908 and 1909 France was his burden. Speaking to the cream of society at the Paria Opera House, he saw 150 decisions made. In 1911 and 1912 he was back in America working with the Men and Religion Forward Movement. During World War I, he was back in France beginning in 1914 and for three and one-half years ministered under the Y.M.C.A. auspices to the English troops there, often visiting the front lines, resulting in receiving the Order of the British Empire which George VI made him a member of.

In 1922 The Nashville, Tennessee crusade seemed to achieve great heights of pulpit power. He had 6,000 Negroes out at a special service.

Once when preaching to Negroes only in Dallas, someone called out, “What colour are we going to be in heaven? Shall we be black or white?” Gipsy replied, “My dear sister, we are going to be just like Christ.”

An “amen” rang out all over the hall.

In 1924, his crusade at the Royal Albert Hall in London had 10,000 attending nightly for the eight day meeting.

In 1926 he made his second trip around the world. In Australia and New Zealand, radio greatly enlarged his ministry. In seven months he accumulated 80,000 decision cards from the large cities such as Sydney, Melbourne, Auckland, etc., as well as in areas of Tasmania. His twenty-fifth trip to the U.S.A. was in 1928 with his son, Albany, who was also a preacher. They visited many churches. In Long Beach, California, he preached in a tent seating over 5,000. He also visited Toronto for the first time since 1909.

England was not responding to union crusades which Smith deemed necessary, so he was back in America in 1929. Now almost seventy, he traveled from Atlanta to Los Angeles with great power. He spoke to 10,000 people at Ocean Grove. San Antonio, Texas had 10,000 decision cards signed in three weeks. One of his greatest Crusades was held in Winston-Salem, North Carolina in a tobacco warehouse seating 6,000. 15,000 attended his last meeting with the total of decision cards for the whole crusade being 27,500.

A large youth crusade was conducted in London in 1931.

1934 found him at an open air meeting near the spot where his gipsy mother died. Some 3,500 heard him. A church was started there as a result, called the North Methodist Mission. In June, 1935, he had a rally at Epping Forest near the spot where he was born. 10,000 showed up to hear him talk about his life. His 1936 tour of America featured a great crusade in Elizabeth, New Jersey with 5,000 attending the last night which was the 60th anniversary of his conversion! Hundreds were saved. His favorite song, He Is Mine, was sung. Another great Texas crusade held at Dallas in the Dalentenary Fair Grounds resulted in 10,000 decisions. Gipsy Smith’s wife, Annie, died in 1937 at the age of 79 while he was in America. All of their children turned ‘out well: a minister, an evangelist, and a soloist. Harold Murray was his constant friend and biographer for thirty years and was pianist for him starting with the first World War.

Front page headlines on June 2, 1938 carried the news of the 78 year old widower marrying Mary Alice Shaw on her 27th birthday. This, of course, brought some criticism. But it was a good marriage, for she helped him in his meetings, sang, did secretarial work, and later nursed him when his health failed. He toured the United States and Canada from 1939 to 1945. In 1945 they went back to England. He preached a bit, but the country was pre-occupied with recovery from the war.

Gipsy was now very tired, and thinking the sunshine of Florida might be good for his health, they embarked again for America. Three hours out of New York, he died on the Queen Mary, stricken by a heart attack. Some say this was his 45th crossing of the Atlantic. His funeral was held August 8, 1947 in the Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church of New York. A memorial with a plaque was unveiled on July 2, 1949 at Mill Plain, Epping Forest, England, his birthplace. So ends the life of one who once said, “I didn’t go through your colleges and seminaries. They wouldn’t have me … but I have been to the feet of Jesus where the only true scholarship is learned.” And learned it was, – to even compel Queen Victoria of England to write him a letter. Gipsy never wrote a sermon out for preaching purposes. Only once did he use notes when he needed some Prohibition facts.

Smith wrote several books:

As Jesus Passed By (1905),
Gipsy Smith: His Work and Life (1906),
Evangelistic Talks (1922), Real Religion (1929),
The Beauty of Jesus (1932) and The Lost Christ.

He would sing as well as he preached. Sometimes he would interrupt his sermon and burst into song. Thousands wept as he sang such songs as, Guide Me 0 Thou Great Jehovah with tears running down his cheeks, or such as This Wonderful Saviour of Mine and Jesus Revealed in Me, a song that he wrote.

Jesus Revealed in Me

Christ the Transforming Light,
Touches this heart of mine,
Piercing the darkest night,
Making His glory shine.


Oh, to reflect His grace,
Causing the world to see,
Love that will glow
Til others shall know
Jesus revealed in me.

Another song that he wrote was Not Dreaming. This was written while he was resting in a corner of a railway compartment. He was reflecting on all the wonderful events of a recent campaign and some teenagers said, “Oh, he’s only dreaming.” He soon had a song to give the world . . .

The world says I’m dreaming, but I know ’tis Jesus
Who saves me from bondage and sin’s guilty stain;
He is my Lover, my Saviour, my Master,
‘Tis He who has freed me from guilt and its pain.


Let me dream on if I am dreaming;
Let me dream on, My sins are gone;
Night turns to dawn, Love’s light is beaming,
So if I’m dreaming, Let me dream on.

Other hymns written were, Thank God for You, and Mother of Mine. C. Austin Miles wrote But This I Know, and dedicated it to Smith. B.D. Ackley composed the music for Let the Beauty of Jesus Be Seen in Me, and dedicated it to Smith.

Although he was a Methodist, ministers of all denominations loved him. It is said that he never had a meeting without conversions.

– Ed Reeves, Fundamental Publishers

Gipsy Smith, as a Bible believing Christian, knew that his place in Heaven was secured by repentance toward God and faith toward the Lord Jesus Christ and the blood He shed for our sins when He died on the cross of Calvary. Brother Smith is with the Lord Jesus Christ right now, but do you know, with 100% assurance, from God’s Word, that you will be with Jesus when you die?

If you do not have this assurance, please read:

God’s Simple Plan of Salvation

These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God;
that ye may know that ye have eternal life,
and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.

1John 5:13

John R. Rice

John Richard Rice (John R. Rice)

BORN: Dec. 11, 1895
Gainesville, Texas
DIED: Dec. 29, 1980
Murfreesboro, Tenn.
LIFE SPAN: 85 years, 18 days

John R. Rice has been one of the most widely used and controversial figures in Christendom. But none can deny his accomplishments. He revived the spirit of evangelism in America in the mid 20th Century when it had almost faded from the American scene, and he certainly has to be considered one of the most prolific writers in the history of the Christendom. His weapons has been the weekly Sword of the Lord for over 40 years. The conducting of soul-winning conferences has helped ignite the fires of soul-winning and evangelism in more preacher’s bones than has any man of his time. Daring to be different, in preaching and convictions, Rice is one of the most under-rated Christian leaders of this century. In truth, he is one of the most significant men in Christian history.

He was born the son of Will and Sallie (LaPrade) Rice, the second of five children. Home was in the country outside Gainesville, Texas, where Will Rice pastored in a little building at a crossroads called Vilot Community. From early days his mother called John “her preacher boy,” which was to be remarkably fulfilled in later years. In September, 1901, when John was five, his mother died. He never forgot her plea for her children to meet her in Heaven. John attended the First Baptist Church of Gainesville. One Sunday morning the pastor, A.B. Ingram, preached on “The Prodigal Son.” John, age nine, slipped to the front of the church to make public his profession of Christ. No one showed him any Scripture, so it was three years before he got assurance of his salvation by reading John 5:24.

The same year his father moved from Gainesville to Dundee, in West Texas, where he married Dolous Bellah. There John lived with his family until he went to Decatur College.

He won his first soul to Christ at age fifteen at a revival meeting when a fourteen year old boy responded to the preaching by raising his hand. No public invitation was given, so Rice talked to him outside the building and led him to Christ.

John grew up in poverty conditions but learned how to get things from God. After finishing what high school courses were available, Rice decided to study for a teacher’s examination. Upon receiving a teacher’s certificate, he taught in a country school fifteen miles from his home, earning $220 for his four-month efforts. He felt an increasing burden to continue his schooling and broaden his education, so he began to pray much about this possibility.

In January, 1916, he packed his clothes, saddled his cowpony and started off through the rain toward Decatur (Texas) Baptist College, some 125 miles away, with about $9.35. He was able to borrow $60 from the bank in Archer City, Texas, and soon he was enrolled in school. He milked the college cows and later was asked to be one of the two waiters who served in the dining room. It was here he met Lloys McClure Cooke whom he would marry five years later.

One week after seeing the first football game in his life, he joined the college team as a regular tackle and played for the next two seasons. He was never knocked out or taken out from the moment he first began to play the game. He graduated in the spring of 1918.

Rice was then drafted into the army and sent to Camp Travis. He served in the Army for eight months where he was in the hospital with mumps and missed going overseas, so he went on guard duty, and finally was assigned to the Dental Corps. He was discharged in January, 1919, and immediately enrolled at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, from which he graduated with his A.B. degree in 1920 after only one and a half years.

He worked his way through college, getting up at 5:20 every morning to deliver mail from Waco to the University. He then milked the Baylor cows, strained the milk and put it away, until it was time to dry the dishes in the girls’ dormitory. In addition, he worked at the University bookstore and served as a janitor for a local Baptist Church. This was all besides the mission Sunday school he conducted for the same church, plus his studies, which ultimately brought him the 1914 Class Scholarship. This scholarship was presented each year to some worthy student who, by good scholarship, leadership, and character deserved honor. The tremendous pace of Dr. Rice in later years can be attributed to his learning to work early in life.

He took a teaching position in English at Wayland Baptist College at Plainview, Texas, and also coached football and basketball teams there. In the spring of 1921, he attended the University of Chicago, looking forward to a master’s degree in education and psychology.

One night he took off from his studies to attend services at the Pacific Garden Mission where Rev. Holland Oates addressed the men. He wasn’t polished but the message surely touched Rice. If God could use this man, surely a college English teacher should be able to be used also. That night he knelt beside a drunken bum and led him to Christ. His life work now seemed to be altered … no longer political and educational goals, but he was determined to pursue the souls of men!

Soon he left the University of Chicago and returned to Texas where he led singing in revival meetings throughout the state in the summer of 1921. He borrowed $100 to get married on September 27, 1921, to Lloys McClure Cooke at her father’s farmhome near Muenster, Texas.

Next, he enrolled in Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary at Fort Worth, Texas, in the fall of 1921 and stayed until the spring of 1923. During these days, he preached in jails, on street corners, and served as student pastor to rural churches in Cooke and Fannin counties. His summers were filled with revival campaigns. Upon leaving the seminary he became associate pastor of the First Baptist Church of Plainview where he stayed for a year. He then accepted the pastorate of the First Baptist Church of Shamrock, Texas, where from 1924 to 1926 the church grew from 200 to 460 members.

In 1926 John Rice moved to Fort Worth, Texas to enter the field of evangelism. He became associated more and more with a great independent Baptist there, J. Frank Norris, and often supplied the pulpit in Norris’ absence. This relationship brought him enemies as well as friends. Opposition came from the Southern Baptists who insisted Rice break ties with Norris. This, plus Rice’s opposition to some of the denomination’s practices and teaching, began to close some of the Convention churches to him. However, his daily radio broadcast gave him many friends in Oklahoma and Texas.

Purchasing a tent, he held many good campaigns – beginning in the Fort Worth area. John then pitched his tent in Decatur, Texas, where his father lived. The revival lasted ten weeks resulting in many hundreds of conversions! Most of the churches had opposed his revival, so in order to care for the new converts, a tabernacle was erected and a new church began with 500 people. Then he went to Waxahachie, Texas, where he took a former livery stable and workers built seats for about 1,200. The twelve-week campaign ended with some 300 converts again organizing a new church. Then on to Sherman, Texas, where it happened again – 12 weeks of revival and a new church organized with another 300 people. Other cities experienced much of the same kind of blessing. Before this phase of his life was over, he was to build eight tabernacles with five becoming permanent churches.

In July of 1932, John Rice began an open air revival in Dallas. He had no money, no building, no organization – just God. Three weeks later, after hundreds had been saved, a group met on July 31 to organize the Fundamentalist Baptist Church of Oak Cliff. Nine hundred united with the work in a little under two years, and Rice stayed on to pastor until 1939. The membership grew to 1,700 with 8,000 professing salvation.

It was here that The Sword of the Lord was begun on September 28, 1934. The revival weekly had printed 5,000 copies its first issue and was offered for $1 per year subscription.

Norris, in Ft. Worth, and Rice, in Dallas, were proving that independent Baptist churches could thrive in the midst of strong Southern Baptist Convention country. However, 1936 brought a tragic split between them. Rice felt that Norris, one of the worlds great preachers sometimes attacked good men without justification. This he opposed, especially a forthcoming article on Sam Morris, another pastor and radio preacher. In January of that year, Rice had scheduled a campaign in Binghamton, New York. Norris did all he could do to cancel this crusade. He warned the pastor that Rice was a Holy Roller, accusing him of preaching “McPhersonism and Pentecostalism.” With many supportive letters in hand, the local pastor let the meetings proceed; they soon outgrew his Grace Baptist Church. Services moved to the Binghamton Theater seating 2,200 and several other churches joined in the revival series. From January 12 to February 23, Rice preached with some 374 public conversions recorded. The January 31st issue of Norris’s Fundamentalist described the “Rice heresy” as “one of the outstanding heresies of modern times”; whereas the February 6th issue of The Sword of the Lord had Rice urging people to forgive Norris for his charges and to support him.

A tragedy of a somewhat different nature took place on November 23, 1938, when his church in Dallas burned down. Fire was seen suddenly shooting up above the baptistry while a missionary named Skivington from South America was speaking. The church building was a total loss without one cent of insurance on the property. Starting all over again, the church recovered and on December 22, 1939, the name of the church was changed to the Galilean Baptist Church.

It was on January 19, 1940 that The Sword of the Lord announced Rice’s resignation from the pastorate to enter the field of full-time evangelism. The year 1939 had found Rice in various sections of the country – and now the fires of evangelism were burning in his bones. It was a time when city-wide campaigns and mass evangelism had all but disappeared. Bob Jones, Sr., and Mordecai Ham were finishing up great careers, but there was nobody new on the horizon, with the exception of Hyman Appelman. Rice was proud of the title “evangelist” even though the name generally was not too well thought of at that time. The Sword of the Lord was having an impact. Great soul winners of the past and their messages were featured. Such things as evangelism, preaching against sin, the public invitation, the evangelistic church, and the fullness of the Spirit were promoted. It was Rice who was leading the way into a new generation of revival and evangelism, winning thousands of souls along the way. The spring of 1940 found Rice moving his family, the paper, the office, and the bookstore from Dallas to Wheaton, Illinois. One reason for this move was his desire to get his six daughters under the influence of Wheaton College.

Praying one morning in a YMCA room on the south side of Chicago, Rice pledged himself to God to bring back mass evangelism to America. Having majored in single church campaigns, he was now getting invitations from groups of pastors to have him lead them in union campaigns. One of the first such campaigns was in Minneapolis where sixteen churches chaired by Richard Clearwaters called Rice … some 200 were saved. In March, 1944 it was Everett, Washington, with Stratton Shufelt as his regular songleader and soloist, some 300 to 400 were saved. In April, 1944, he held one of his largest campaigns in Buffalo, New York, at the Kleinhans Music Hall. Closing services saw thousands crowd in with hundreds standing or turned away. Some 115 churches participated and the number of first-time decisions was 997. Another great campaign was in Cleveland, Ohio, February 11 to March 11, 1945, with 93 cooperating churches. This campaign had some 800 first-time decisions for Christ and a closing night crowd of 3,767 jamming the Cleveland Public Music Hall. Again Shufelt was heading a fine musical program. Rice was now 49 years old. Youth for Christ and Jack Wyrtzen were a new phenomenon, and evangelism was becoming popular again. Hundreds of young men were entering the field of evangelism, many from Bob Jones University. Rice continued to do the work of two men for several years – large scale evangelism and editing and writing. In January of 1946, some 48 churches sponsored him in Pontiac, Michigan. In March, 1946, it was Miami, Florida, where 44 Baptist churches sponsored him, and in fifteen days there were 600 professions of faith at the meetings and another 400 in the public school meetings. A great Chicago crusade was held in May of 1946 with Rice speaking during the final fifteen days … the first united campaign there since Sunday’s meetings in 1918. Over 2,000 decisions were made during the series which also featured Bob Jones, Sr., and Paul Rood in the weeks preceding Rice’s ministry. In September, 1946, Rice held a campaign in Dayton, Ohio, with some 500 decisions for Christ at the meetings and 450 more at the high school services. Harry D. Clarke was now his songleader. In January, 1947, 20 churches brought him to Lima, Ohio with some 500 saved at services and schools. The Rice-Clarke team was in Marion, Ohio, in February with over 200 first-time professions of faith. In March and April, the team held a large tent campaign in San Pedro, California, with some 600 decisions for Christ. Seattle, Washington, Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and other cities were also to be stirred.

The Sword of the Lord was growing by leaps and bounds as well, and soon Rice had to decide where to spend the bulk of his time, as an editor, trying to influence Christians weekly in revival emphasis, or as an evangelist in crusades across the country. Both would contribute to the winning of the lost. But after much consideration, the nod was given to The Sword of the Lord. Other evangelists on the scene could perpetuate the mass crusades that Rice and Appelman gave birth to in the early 1940’s.

With purpose never wavering in 41 years of issues, the weekly masthead continues to read, “An Independent Christian Weekly, Standing for the Verbal Inspiration of the bible, the Deity of Christ, His Blood Atonement, Salvation by Faith, New Testament Soul Winning and the Premillennial Return of Christ. Opposes Moderism, Worldliness and Formalism.” The paper averaged 7,200 copies weekly the first year – -1934. It reached 100,000 weekly in 1955; and some 200,000 in 1972; and then 300,000 in 1975 making it the largest independent religious weekly in the world. It is published with Portuguese and Spanish editions as well. There has probably never been a periodical in history that has seen so many saved, and so many Christians challenged to revival and soul-winning.

When Dr. Rice moved to Wheaton, the office work was done in his home. In 1945, a basement office was rented in the business section of Wheaton. In 1946, a large, two-story brick warehouse was purchased and remodeled. In 1952 another two-story brick building was purchased and in 1955 the First Presbyterian Church property was purchased to provide location for future building. Sword of the Lord Foundation was incorporated as a non-profit organization in 1947.

John Rice’s evangelistic campaigns were replaced by periodic conferences on revival and soul-winning held at conference grounds and in strategic churches. This has continued through the years, stirring the fires of revival in thousands of Christians’ lives. In recent years, Jack Hyles has become his co-worker in this ministry. The first of these conferences were held at the Bethany Reformed Church in Chicago. In 1945 a large conference was conducted at Winona Lake, Indiana. Six evangelists agreed to work toward nationwide revival campaigns: John Rice, Bob Jones, Sr., Hyman Appelman, Jesse Hendley, Robert Wells, and Joe Henry Hankins. Repeat conferences were held in 1946 and 1947. After 1947, ironically, they were notified that they were not welcome back to the grounds housing the late Billy Sunday’s activities, (a man he was trying to follow.) Under new leadership, however, they were back in 1976. National conferences of great magnitude were held in Indianapolis in 1974, in Dallas in 1975 and Atlanta in 1976.

Rice’s book sales have been phenomenal, beginning with the tract/booklet, “What Must I do to be Saved?” written in San Antonio, Texas, during a revival campaign in the late 1920’s, and first published in The Fundamentalist, Norris’s paper. Some 15 million copies have been distributed and thousands of souls have been saved. It is in some 38 different languages. Along with Ford Porter’s famous tract, God’s Simple Plan of Salvation, and Campus Crusades God’s Four Spiritual Laws, it is one of the most effective and widely used explanations of salvation’s plan in print today. His first sermon was put into print in 1931.

Soon he was compiling his sermons into booklets and books, and writing on specific issues such as lodges, the movies, woman’s attire, prayer, the Holy Spirit, etc. In 1967 Moody Press published a list of over 10,000 books in print from 57 religious publishing companies. The one man who was responsible for the most books/ booklets published was Rice, with some 142 different titles and/or editions, more than doubling the second place entry, Harry Ironside, who had 65. The titles, too numerous to mention are widely accepted by Christians everywhere. In 1936 his first clothbound book came out entitled, The Coming Kingdom of Christ. His book, Prayer, Asking and Receiving (1942), sold 250,000 copies in these years, besides 8 foreign language editions. The Power of Pentecost is considered a classic on the Holy Spirit. His booklet, What is Wrong With the Movies? has caused thousands of people to turn away from movie attendance for more consecrated lives. The Soul Winner’s Fire, published by Moody Press, was another outstanding booklet. In 1973 the tally was 134 titles with a circulation of 47 million in over 38 different languages.

Rice stayed on in Wheaton until 1963, when he moved most of his large staff to Murfreesboro, Tennessee. While in Wheaton, he founded the Calvary Baptist Church. Rice has six children, all daughters, and they all married men active in the Lord’s work. Grace was the first, born October 22, 1922. Along came Mary Lloys (June 27, 1925), Elizabeth (May 18, 1927), Jessie (January 13, 1929), Joanna (November 3, 1931), and finally Joy (September 27, 1937). Allan MacMullen, Charles Himes, Walt Handford, Don Sandberg, Wm. Carl Rice and Roger Martin, the husbands, all have made valuable contributions to the work of the Lord.

Rice has been engaged in several controversies, two of note in recent years: the Chafer book, and the policies of Billy Graham since 1957. In the 1940’s a book by Lewis S. Chafer entitled, True Evangelism, was produced by Moody Press. Feeling it to be a harmful book to the cause of evangelism, Rice protested loud and long about its continual promotion. In the 1950’s, Rice was one of the first men along with Bob Jones, Sr. to take the unpopular position of opposing the sponsorship of Billy Graham’s ecumenical crusades which began with the New York crusade of 1957. Previous to this, Rice had given Graham much encouragement by his reports of Graham’s ministry in The Sword. It has never been a personal vendetta, but a matter of following his scriptural convictions.

Almost overlooked in his ministries is the fact that he is a radio preacher and a song writer. His Voice of Revival broadcast continues on more than 30 stations across the country. On one occasion years ago, he received 17,000 letters in one week resulting from his broadcast in the Philadelphia area. His songs such as Never Lonely, Never Fearing, His Yoke is Easy, Souls Are Dying, Oh, Bring Your Loved Ones, So Little Time, Jesus is Coming, The Price of Revival, We’ll Never Say Good-bye, When Jesus Comes to Reign have been a blessing to many.

His exciting story is told in depth in Man Sent From God, authored by Robert Sumner.

One of his final projects was the editing of The Rice Reference Bible, with his notes of a lifetime.

He preached his last message in Wadsworth, Ohio. Failing health overtook him and he soon passed on to his eternal home.

– Ed Reeves – Fundamental Publishers

John R. Rice, as a Bible believing Christian, knew that his place in Heaven was secured by repentance toward God and faith toward the Lord Jesus Christ and the blood He shed for our sins when He died on the cross of Calvary. Brother Rice is with the Lord Jesus Christ right now, but do you know, with 100% assurance, from God’s Word, that you will be with Jesus when you die?

If you do not have this assurance, please read:

God’s Simple Plan of Salvation

These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God;
that ye may know that ye have eternal life,
and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.

1John 5:13

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