Part 2 of this series told of the powerful Protestant preachers who began evangelizing the world in the early 1700s and how the Holy Spirit not only inspired them but gave them great freedom in the pulpit. Part 3 continues the story but shifts the emphasis to Seventh-day Adventist preachers and ministers who have been mightily led by God.
RENOWNED ADVENTIST PREACHERS
H.M.S. Richards (1894–1985) was born in Iowa, USA, and is most famous as the founder of the Seventhday Adventist Voice of Prophecy radio ministry and as a pioneer in religious radio broadcasting. His preaching style was quiet, with few physical movements or gestures, but his sermon content and vocal appeal were tremendous. Thousands came to Christ as a result of his ministry. The Adventist Church called him “the pastor of pastors.”
George Vandeman (1916–2000) started his ministry in college with a weekly 15-minute radio broadcast in Elkhart, Indiana, USA. Later, he worked as a full-time evangelist. He patterned his preaching style after Charles Spurgeon and had a wonderful preaching voice that was easy to listen to. In the mid-1950s, he began the well-known television program It Is Written, which surpassed 1.5 million viewers in the 1990s. It Is Written was one of the first religious telecasts to be aired on Soviet television. In 2000, it was broadcast in eight languages to more than 150 countries. It was a “pioneering force” in Adventist evangelism.
Fordyce Detamore (1909–1980) was a Seventh-day Adventist evangelist in North America who prepared thousands for baptism and brought many backslidden Adventists back to a living relationship with Jesus and the church. Detamore encouraged pastors and church leaders to help these well-meaning people go to work for the lost so they could become “fishers of men” instead of “crabs.” Detamore is known for the following acronym: HKWHTA (He Knows What He’s Talking About).
Kenneth Cox (1928–) discovered Christ when a literature salesman left a religious tract with the Cox’s neighbor, Mrs. Morgan. She wasn’t interested, so she tucked the little magazine in a catalogue that the Cox family received in the mail, which he and the family read, and, as a result, became interested in spiritual things. Then an Adventist literature evangelist visited them and enrolled the family in a Voice of Prophecy Bible Course! Before long, Kenneth and his family accepted the Adventist truth and were baptized. After earning a degree in theology, Cox pastored and conducted evangelistic campaigns with his team, not only in the United States but in more than 12 other countries. Using a unique multimedia concept, his campaign videos have become popular worldwide. He has a clear, convincing preaching manner that easily draws people to the Lord.
Doug Batchelor (1957–), son of Florida aviation tycoon and philanthropist George Batchelor and Hollywood film critic/actress/songwriter Ruth Batchelor, spent his youth searching for his purpose in life, including exploring various religions. While living in a cave in the mountains above Los Angeles, he somehow secured a Bible and began reading it, which over time led to his conversion and baptism into the Adventist Church. Eventually, he became skilled in showing the links between ancient Bible prophecies and current world events. Consequently, Batchelor developed a strong Christian belief system that led him to become the speaker of the national television program Amazing Facts. He is an energetic speaker with an unusual ability to communicate not only to church-oriented people but also to those who aren’t religious. His spontaneous, lively humor and down-to-earth approach to living the Christian life engages and brings hope and meaning to hearts from every background.
Dwight Nelson (1961–) is a Seventh-day Adventist evangelist and author, but his primary role is senior pastor of Pioneer Memorial Church on the campus of Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan. He appeals powerfully to the thousands of adults and students who greatly admire not only his evocative and compelling sermons but also his person, which is warm and charismatic. He has pastored at the Pioneer Memorial Church for more than 30 years. He also hosted the television program The Evidence. His preaching is dynamic, bold, and fearless. He covers issues many pastors are too timid to address.
The space would fail me to tell of Mark A. Finley, Charles D. Brooks, E. E. Cleveland, Robert Costa, Salim Japas, Alejandro Bullón, Efraín Murillo, Walter Pearson, Carlton P. Byrd, Carlos E. Aeschlimann, Mike Tucker, Dan Mathews, William Fagal, Braulio Pérez Marcio, Milton Peverini, Charles E. Bradford, Shawn Boonstra, Stephen Bohr, W. C. Scales, Lonnie Melashenko, John Bradshaw, Lawrence Andrews Ewoo, John Carter, and many other Seventh-day Adventist preachers.
It is evident that God has used these pastor-evangelists in a mighty way for generations to further His plan for Planet Earth. To be a preacher is a serious and solemn responsibility. As a direct instrument of God for saving souls, the preacher’s behavior can determine the eternal destiny of men and women. Humility, dedication, a close connection with God through prayer, fearlessness, fasting, and courage to do His will regardless of the consequences are the marks of a great preacher. Understanding and taking to heart the apostle Paul’s famous statement is vital for success: “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Cor. 1:18).
(To be continued)
Lamar Phillips is a retired minister and church administrator who served for 39 years in six world divisions.