Remembering Jack Stanton: A former student, now pastor recalls his beloved mentor
July 17, 2002
I will certainly miss Dr. Jack Stanton.
What a marvelous homecoming in the presence of the Lord, His angels, and Dr. Jack’s beloved wife Mary! O, to see his kind raised up in succeeding generations–a scholarly evangelist and an evangelistic scholar.
Of all the evangelism professors in our colleges and seminaries, none could match Dr. Stanton’s experience, wisdom, or prowess in the pulpit and the street. It has been said that nobody has preached to more people face-to-face than Billy Graham. Yet nobody has preached in more churches than the world-renowned "Mr. Evangelism" himself. What was thought by so many in SBC life for so long was ultimately popularized by Jaroy Weber — Dr. Stanton’s nickname — "Mr. Evangelism."
Stanton was a virtual fixture at pastor and evangelism conferences throughout the country. He was a leading pioneer in the "Crossover" evangelistic endeavors that have preceded the annual Southern Baptist Conventions in recent years. Only heaven will know the untold number of people reached through this fiery servant of the Lord and the vast unknown number of churches revitalized through his revivals and evangelism training schools, such as "WIN" and "Continuing Witnessing Training."
God used Dr. Stanton to pen one of the most widely used Gospel tracts, How to Have a Full and Meaningful Life. He also developed witness training materials for churches and preached some of the greatest sermons since Spurgeon, Whitefield, and the apostles. He frequently filled the pulpit for the likes of R.G. Lee, W.A. Criswell, Ed Young, Charles Stanley, Bailey Smith, Adrian Rogers, and Jerry Vines. Yet, it was not unusual for him to fly to the other side of the country to preach to a congregation of 15 people.
He served as the first state evangelism director for the Kansas-Nebraska Baptist Convention and the Colorado Baptist Convention, where he preached the first ever Southern Baptist revival held in that convention area. He pastored in Hamilton, Missouri among other places before his convention and evangelistic ministry. He served the Southern Baptist Convention as first vice president with distinction during a crucial time in the life of the convention (1986-1988). He pastored growing Bible-based churches.
Jack Stanton preached in nearly every country on the planet. The pastor of the largest Baptist church in the world, which is located in South Korea, points to the time Stanton spent with them as a pivotal moment in the ministry of that church. Stanton maintained a close friendship with Vice-president and President George H.W. Bush. He provided a biblical and aggressive evangelistic focus in the evangelism department of the then Home Mission Board (now the North American Mission Board) in the days before the conservative resurgence when moderates sought to water down the Gospel.
The passion of his life was Southwest Baptist University (SBU). He first preached a revival there in 1949 that spread like wildfire through Missouri, Oklahoma and Arkansas. What was scheduled initially as a couple days of meetings protracted for several days with classes postponed so students could get right with God and witness to others. After much pleading from then SBU President James Sells, and with the encouragement of Criswell, Stanton joined the faculty of SBU in 1975 and founded the International School of Evangelism . At that time, the SBC seminaries were shot through with liberalism and the more conservative Criswell Biblical Institute was just getting off the ground. Stanton nearly single-handedly secured much needed funds for buildings and additional Religion School faculty for SBU (and even a football team).
Stanton preferred teaching evangelism on a college campus over a seminary campus, although he was offered numerous posts and presidencies. He firmly believed that if America would be won to Christ, it would not be through preachers alone but through the laity. So, he labored fervently to train Christian young people preparing for all sorts of occupations in sharing the gospel of Christ. What a visionary!
Heaven is all the richer and "the world was not worthy of [him]" (Heb. 11:38).
Thank you, Lord, for blessing so many lives with your humble servant. (Mike Roy is a 1992 graduate of Southwest Baptist University who was taught and mentored by Stanton. He is now pastor of the First Baptist Church of Greenwood.)