McNiel presses forward with his captivating brand of dramatic evangelism
ST. LOUIS—Some people may think that the need for revival meetings and evangelists is a thing of the past, irrelevant for the 21st century church. After meeting Jim McNiel, you will know that the ministry of evangelism is alive and well.
McNiel has been doing the work of an evangelist for 41 years. He sensed his call to the ministry soon after graduating from college in 1966, and he immediately went into the ministry as a music evangelist. But God had other plans.
“Twenty-one years ago I committed to memorize the entire New Testament,” McNiel recalled. “I was doing a revival with Dr. Larry Lewis at the First Baptist Church of Piedmont, Missouri, and we decided to go for a walk.”
Lewis reminded McNiel of the upcoming January Bible study on the book of James. “I told Dr. Lewis, ‘I think I will memorize the book of James and do it as a monologue.’”
McNiel memorized the Scripture in only six weeks. On the night of his first monologue, he became nervous to present his message. Stopping to consult God in prayer, McNiel clearly heard God speaking to him.
“I heard God say, ‘My Son, do what I have gifted you to do. My Word is sharper than any two-edged sword,” McNiel said. He immediately obeyed and performed his first monologue at Tower Grove Baptist Church, St. Louis. An invitation was held and 12 people accepted Christ, solidifying God’s unique calling on McNiel’s life.
McNiel quickly began memorizing the rest of the New Testament Scripture and taking on the personas of biblical characters such as Matthew, James, Paul, and John the Revelator. When McNiel takes the stage as one of these heroes of the faith, his passion for the Word of God comes alive, earning him the nickname, “The Walking Bible.”
In many churches where McNiel evangelizes, the pastor will introduce him in this way: “Wouldn’t it be great if a man could walk out of the pages of the Bible and walk onto our stage and give us a first-person account?” McNeil explained. McNiel does exactly that. His monologues allow passages of the Bible that may seem unclear or dull to come to life in passionate ways. “[God] has given me a gift to literally ‘Preach the Word’ as it says in 1 Timothy 4:2” McNiel said.
This effective ministry has taken McNiel to 48 states in the United States and throughout the world in his lifetime. Speaking at revivals, evangelism conferences, crusades, universities and banquets, McNeil performs his gripping monologues close to 25 times a year. He has also been blessed to share the pulpit with great evangelists such as Billy Graham, Jerry Vines, John Hagge and W.A. Criswell.
One of McNiel’s fondest memories throughout his travels occurred during an Easter revival in Hawaii. Grieving the recent death of his mother, McNiel arrived in the Aloha state disheartened and in need of prayer. Through the strength of many prayer partners, McNiel began his monologue on the death and resurrection of Christ during an Easter sunrise service.
“We were standing outside in the beautiful Hawaiian terrain and I began to quote [Christ’s final words on the cross]… ‘It is finished’” McNiel said. “When I said those words, the heavens opened up and the rain began to pour. God gave me a Word and I said, ‘How appropriate are these raindrops, we have just witnessed the most horrible death in history…could these drops of Heaven be tears from Heaven today?”
At that moment the rain ceased. Looking up in the sky, McNiel said, “The bad part is over, the good part is coming up!” After reciting the Scripture pertaining to the resurrection, 60 people made professions of faith.
McNiel continued his evangelism crusade inside the city of Honolulu where 200 more people committed their lives to Christ. It was McNiel’s single greatest revival.
“Every evangelist is uniquely equipped and called,” McNiel said. “[God] lets me travel all over the world, keeps me alive, healthy and in favor with God and men. My desire is that He gives pastors confidence in my ministry and they will invite me [into their churches] and I can continue preaching until the Lord of Heaven will come with a shout. That is my heart’s desire—my future plans!”
Although he is primarily known nationally for his evangelism, McNiel is glad to be a Missouri Baptist evangelist and is looking for more appearances in the state. Call him at (314) 776-6446 to see how he may be utilized in Missouri.
McNiel’s pure joy in serving the Lord is also the highlight of his years in ministry. To express his gratitude, he quotes Galations 1:15-16a. “But when it pleased God, who separated Jim McNiel from his mother, Callie McNiel’s womb, and called me by his grace, to reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen,” McNiel said. “You can’t beat that.”