Sad news emerged this week when it was revealed that Dr. Charles Stanley, senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Atlanta and founder of In Touch Ministries, died at the age of 90, as Fox News reports.
In addition to his role within the aforementioned Georgia congregation, Stanley was also a renowned broadcaster and the author of multiple books.
As Fox5 in Atlanta noted, Stanley was born in 1932 in Dry Fork, Virginia, and it was not long until he set his feet on religious path he would continue to pursue for the rest of his life.
According to the website for In Touch Ministries, Stanley received his divine calling into the ministry at the young age of 14 and started preaching to any audience he could find.
Furthering his education with a bachelor's degree from the University of Richmond, Stanley was soon after ordained at Moffet Memorial Baptist Church.
Not content to end his education there, Stanley later attended Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and obtained Master's and Doctoral degrees from Luther Rice Seminary.
Stanley was named senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Atlanta back in 1971 and was at the helm during a period of massive growth which saw the congregation swell to over 15,000, as Fox5 noted.
It was in 1977 that Stanley founded In Touch Ministries so that he could, as he put it, “Get the truth of the Gospel to as many people as possible.”
Through that endeavor, Stanley was able to place his devotionals, sermons, and podcasts in more than one hundred million homes each week, spanning 126 countries.
The In Touch television program he spearheaded airs at 204 stations and seven satellite networks as of the time of his death, and the radio version of the show remains accessible via 458 stations as well as shortwave.
Stanley's massive, indeed global, reach was formally recognized by the numerous awards bestowed upon him over the years.
Back in 1988, Stanley was honored with induction into the National Religious Broadcaster's Hall of Fame.
In addition, several of the over 60 books he authored made their way onto the New York Times bestseller list.
In a nod to his undeniably influential presence in the global Christian church, Stanley also dedicated two terms of service as president of the Southern Baptist Convention.
As news of Stanley's death spread, words of praise for the longtime religious leader spilled forth, with fellow pastor and evangelist Greg Laurie declaring that he “made his mark on this world for the Gospel and his incredible teaching of God's Word.”
Rev. Johnnie Moore of the U.S. Commission for International Religious Freedom and the Congress of Christian Leaders paid tribute as well, saying, as Fox News noted, “Dr. Stanley believed in the Bible, and he taught its precepts faithfully – and without fanfare – for his entire life,” adding that the late pastor “taught that Christians should just 'obey God's word and leave all the consequences to him.'”
Stanley's son Andy – one of the pastor's two children – honored his father as a role model for those going into service of the church. “Not just how to preach or how to build a church,” he said, “[b]ut how to get to a finish line with integrity and to be able to look back and be proud of everything that came before, and unfortunately that's increasingly rare.”
“I'll miss him every day until I see him again,” Andy Stanley poignantly added, surely echoing the sentiments of so many whom his father touched over the course of his life and work.