Stories: Jimmy Draper

A Story about Vance Havner
By Jimmy Draper
President Emeritus, LifeWay Christian Resources

Vance Havner first came on my radar screen as a very young ministerial student. His wry wit and poignant expressions became favorites of mine long before I became a pastor. As a young pastor, and chairman of the Evangelism Committee in Kansas City, Missouri, I helped orchestrate a month of “simultaneous revivals among the churches of our association. It was a great success as scores of churches participated. The highlight of the focus was my privilege to present Vance Havner in special speaking meetings following breakfast at a centrally located church. For ten days he spoke to over 100 pastors and church staff for an hour or more every day. It was one of the most electrifying and challenging moments of my ministry…and many others expressed the same. We laughed, cried and renewed our own calling from the Lord during those days. His books and the memories of those days and others over the years continue to ring a bell of gratitude in my heart.

When I was called to be pastor of the First Baptist Church in Euless, TX, my first Sunday was to be the last Sunday of a revival that Dr. Havner was preaching at the church. We went to lunch on Saturday and he said, “You are the new pastor and need to preach on your first Sunday. I’m going home!” Over my protests, he did just that. It showed the sensitivity of that aged giant of a preacher to the first days of a new preacher’s ministry in the church. Though little in stature, and weak in voice, his preaching still thunders across our nation, and always with powerful impact upon those who receive those messages.

One thought on “Stories: Jimmy Draper”

  1. It was in the spring semester of ‘85 or ‘86 when Dr. Havner seemed just pop in to visit one of our professor. Dr. Ray Robbins invited him to say a few words to our small class. He was a small man full of zeal and life, but he looked like he should have been assisted by someone.

    When he began a “few words,” I found myself wanting to hang on every word, but I couldn’t or I would miss the next.

    He encouraged us to avoid being so caught up in smaller and secondary responsibilities, because the frustration will keep us from being compassionate towards others.

    Little did I know, he died shortly thereafter. I will remember his compassion and love for people.

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