Sunday, June 23, 2013

Bio of Evangelist Lester Roloff - This Week in Christian History for the week of June 23-29

June 17, 1914 Evangelist Lester Roloff was born in Dawson Texas. To help pay for his education he brought a cow with him and milked it to pay for his room and board. Early in his ministry Lester preached in small towns and in revival meetings. During World War II he became the pastor of Park Avenue Baptist Church, and his popularity spread.

Soon after he started a radio broadcast, “The Family Altar,” which is still a successful program even years after Lester’s death. He eventually left Park Avenue to become a full-time evangelist on the radio and in revivals. He would later found Alameda Baptist Church is Corpus Christi as a base of operations for his ministry.

Lester founded the “City of Refuge” for alcoholic men and their families. Lester is quoted as saying, “this is a work of faith, entirely dependent upon the gifts of God’s people. You talk about an opportunity for evangelism! This is it, when we have men, women, boys and girls for at least ninety days to preach the gospel of deliverance to them. Some have suggested that we appeal to the state for funds, but his is a work of faith and there must be no strings attached that would keep us from preaching a full gospel and ministering to the spiritual needs of people. This is not a social institution. This is a salvation institution.”

This need to be disconnected to the state would later prove troubling for his later works.

He founded the “Lighthouse for Boys,” and the “Rebekah Home” for girls. These provided a place for troubled children, some who were homeless, addicted to drugs, alcoholic or pregnant. These homes were put under pressure because Lester didn’t want to license the homes. He argued that he didn’t take a penny from the state of Texas; they shouldn’t be able to tell him how to run his homes. Lester was willing to serve two short jail sentences to stand for his beliefs.

Fighting legal battles took a toll on Lester, and he announced on one of his last “Family Altar” programs that he had not only taken all of the money out of the bank, but had also taken a loan to keep the ministry going. Shortly after he crashed a plane he was piloting, he passed away along with his three passengers. The National Religious Broadcasters indicted Lester into their Hall of Fame.

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It is also currently available at Barnes and nobles and should be available to order now or shortly from anywhere that sells books. The book is about Thomas Becket, Martin Luther, John Wesley and Francis of Assisi and is written in creative nonfiction style, I have excepts of the book here on my website

Thank you for reading.