Pastor Jack Hyles' Favorite Soul Winning Experiences
by Pastor Jack Hyles (1926-2001)
THE DEATH OF MY FATHER
People often ask me why I stress soul winning so much. There are many reasons, but one of the main ones is wrapped up in the story concerning the death of my father. On January 1, 1950, my father sat in my service-about five or six rows back. He was a rough, tough man and used to be an amateur wrestler. I was his preacher boy.
On December 31, 1949, I found my father in a tavern. I walked inside that tavern and said, "Dad, you're going home with me this weekend. You're going to Marshall, Texas, with me today and I'm going to preach to you tomorrow on New Year's Day."
Dad looked at me, shrugged his shoulders, and sort of half drunk said, "I'm not going."
(He weighed 235 pounds, was over 6 feet tall, and was every inch a man.) I said, "Dad, you weigh almost twice as much as I do, but you are going with me. If I have to drag you bodily, you're going with me."
I took my dad to the car and on to Marshall, Texas. On New Year's Eve night we had a Watch Night service, a blessed time. I said to my father, "Dad, are you having a good time?"
He looked at me, smiled, and great big tears rolled down his whiskered cheeks as he said, "Son, they don't have this much fun where I stay."
I took him outside the building and said, "Dad, I'm so happy! I want you to be one of my deacons. I want you to get saved."
Dad began to cry, "Son, I would love to be one of your deacons."
"Dad, would you receive Christ?"
He didn't receive Christ that night. The next morning I preached to him. He actually dug his fingernails into the pew as he wept and cried, but he didn't come. I closed the service and said, "He'll come tonight! He'll come tonight!"
That afternoon we went out in the pasture near the little country church. I put my arm around his big shoulders and said, "Daddy, I've always wanted you to be a Christian. I'm a preacher, a pastor; but, Dad, you drink, you curse, you are separated from Mother; our home is broken. Wouldn't you receive Christ as your Saviour?"
My dad put his arm on my shoulder, looked me in the eye and said, "Son, I'm going to do it! I'm going to do it! But I'm going to do it in the spring or early summer. I'm going to Dallas to sell out and I'm going to come to East Texas and buy a little fruit stand or grocery store and go in business down here. I'm going to hear you preach every Sunday. I'm going to receive Christ and let you baptize me."
That was January 1, 1950. I lived for the spring and the summer. Every time I baptized anyone in that little country baptistry, I pictured myself taking my big old dad and lowering him into the water and raising him in newness of life. I looked forward to that day. I longed for it. I lived for it.
On May 13 I preached a radio sermon at 9:00 a.m. Then I went out to the little parsonage in the country and sat down to read the DALLAS MORNING NEWS. The telephone rang. "Reverend Jack Hyles, please. Long distance calling." I answered, and a man on the other end of the line said, "This is Mr. Smith. Your dad just dropped dead with a heart attack on the job."
I put my head in my hands and said, "Dear God, it isn't fair! It isn't fair! I've been trying to get folks right with God, and now my own dad has died and as far as I know was unprepared."
I wept and prayed as I went to Dallas, Texas, and followed the hearse down to the little cemetery in Italy, Texas, and watched them put my dad's body in the grave. A few days later I went back and knelt on the mound under which my daddy's body rested and said, "Dear Lord, You help me and I'll preach every Sunday like my dad was in the crowd."
Now I never go to bed on Saturday night without taking the only picture of my dad that I have, looking at it and saying, "Dear Jesus, tomorrow when I preach, I want to preach like Dad was in the service."
I have tried to keep that promise. How important soul winning is, and how important it is to make every service an evangelistic service.
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