Heaven’s transport was engaged Tuesday to bring another prophet home to his eternal reward. The chariot called for Charles Stanley, and earth forfeited one of its stellar preachers. Because of the innate graciousness of the man, part of the role of prophet did not come easily for Stanley. Yet he never wavered in his courage — even when stalking moose with nothing but a camera!
Frequent conferences of the men who led the battle for faithfulness to God’s word revealed the character of Stanley to those around the table. Someone would make a proposal for action, which would be followed by a pragmatic question of whether or not we could win. After a thoughtful silence, Charles would chime, “I just want to remind you men that we do not have to win. The only concern we need is to determine if this pleases God.” And more often than not, the cryptic observation of the great man of God captured the hour and adjusted our focus.
Stanley’s humility is legendary. Struggling to decide whether or not he should allow his name to be placed in nomination for the presidency of the SBC, the suggestion was made that veteran missionary and prayer warrior Bertha Smith be asked to come to the room and pray with us. Charles so profoundly respected her prowess in prayer. When he confided to her that as yet he had no word from the Lord, she prevailed upon him to confess his sins. None of us could ever forget his humble invocation. “Dear Lord above, whatever it is that Miss Bertha says I need to confess, I hereby confess and seek your face.” I knew in that moment that God had chosen Charles Stanley to be our leader.
Speaking of devotion to prayer, some years ago when Dr. Stanley completed the construction of his present In-Touch headquarters, I went by to visit him in Atlanta. Eventually, he showed me the palatial recording studio, the offices, the eating area for staff, and other wonderful facilities, but the only thing he really wanted me to see was the specially constructed prayer closet. He spent more time explaining how he used this closet and how it impacted his entire In-Touch ministry more than anything else. When Dr. Stanley made a generous contribution to the Mathena Building at Southwestern Seminary, the classroom focusing on In-Touch ministries was of little interest to him. All that he asked was that we construct a prayer closet where students could come aside and seek the power and presence of God. Undoubtedly, the greatness of Charles Stanley is anchored in his consistent walk with his Lord.
Love for the beauty and majesty of God revealed in the cosmos generated a passion for photography second only to preaching. Charles’ home and office was a gallery of magnificent photographs snapped by the preacher all over the world. A beautiful monograph containing those photographs and inspirational words transmit the Spirit of God and of the heart of the prophet to my home as well as to many others.
What I am trying to say is not to extoll the faultless virtues of Charles Stanley, because he, like us all had to depend solely on Jesus for redemption. Having done precisely that, Charles Stanley presented himself to God’s service in a remarkable way. I am just noting in passing that evangelical Christianity will miss the presence of this man of God mightily, even as new generations learn and profit from the legacy of this amazing prophet of God — Dr. Charles Stanley.
Originally published at Paige Patterson Ministries.
Dr. Paige Patterson, an architect of the Conservative Resurgence of the Southern Baptist Convention, is a global theological educator with 60 years of ministry experience. Having served as president of three theological institutions and as president of the Southern Baptist Convention, Patterson brings a lifetime of leadership expertise to his work as a theologian and evangelist. During the past six decades, Patterson has served as a member of many boards and councils including the International Council for Biblical Inerrancy. A native Texan, Patterson has served as pastor to several churches in the United States in addition to his international ministry as a preacher and teacher at Bible conferences across the globe.