Appreciating my First Ministry Hero

Derek Prince preaching the goods.

Derek Prince preaching the goods.

Derek Prince was my first ministry hero.  I suppose there are those who would argue that Christians shouldn’t make a big deal out of their heroes – could lead to idolizing and all that.  I’m not one of those.  We need heroes in the faith – an exemplery life is one of  God’s instructive tools.  I can still remember playing and replaying his old teaching tapes (that’s right, cassette tapes!) when I first became a Christian.  I remember as a young Christian hearing of his death in 2003.  Why I am reflecting on him today is a bit of mystery to me.  I haven’t listened to any of his material for a long time but the Lord has brought him to mind.  Even though I wouldn’t agree with some of his positions today (I’ve drifted a little ways away from Azusa towards Geneva) but his impact on me remains.  Prince was a player in Pentecostal/Charismatic circles especially during the seventies and eighties.  Perhaps other evangelicals don’t know much about him.  They should.  Here’s a few of my reasons:

He was Legit.  Prince was the real deal.  His life and testimony reflected every one of his preached words.  I’ve heard how he came to Christ dozens of times; he told the story over and over and it never failed to be powerful.  When he preached on fatherhood, you knew he lived it – he adopted a small army of children.  When talked about prayer, you could feel that he was a man of prayer.  He preached holiness and lived a holy life.  He was only involved in one controversy – the Shepherding Movement – and he apologized for it.

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He was Bible.  Derek Prince taught me the power of God’s Word.  The heart of his ministry was just to open the Bible and say what it said.  He had utter confidence in every syllable of Scripture.  I will never forget him saying:  If you doubt the Word of God, you will begin to disbelieve it.  If you disbelieve the Word of God, you begin to disobey it.  Pay attention, post-modern age!

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He was Practical.  Derek Prince never preached anything without making it real.  He demonstrated how the entirety of God’s revelation was useful and important for every believer.  He could open his Bible, teach from Exodus, and make the tapestries of the tabernacle relevant to your life.  I’m serious.  He didn’t believe in making the Bible relevant as accommodation but in making our lives relevant to God’s Word.  He had a Phd in Philosophy (Logic) and knew the Biblical languages as well as anybody but he always brought everything down to the level of ordinary believers.
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He was Serious.  His demeanour also made a huge impact on me.  He could use a little humour at times, but he was no entertainer.  As a younger preacher I often felt the temptation to be a little bit of a comedian.  Listening to Prince always reigned me in.  He once said:  Humour can be used to good effect, but we must never make light of holy things.
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He was about Mission.   His books, tapes, and radio shows were translated into dozens of languages.  He cared deeply about China, the Soviet Union, and most of all, Israel and the Jewish people.  He wanted to see God’s Word come to every person, every country, every ethnic group, in every native tongue.
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He Rocked the Atonement.  There is a real temptation among Pentecostal/Charismatics to become distracted from first things.  *Actually this is a danger for every type of believer!*  But Derek Prince always brought it back to Christ’s work on the Cross.  The Cross is God’s key, which unlocks every other one of His blessings.   He was never foolish enough to get locked into one atonement view.  He preached every aspect of the Cross that was Biblical – never diminishing one for another – always seeing them as complementary facets and not competing theories.  This is an especially important example example for budding preachers/theologians today.
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He Loved God.  God was never a subject for Derek Prince.  Even when diving deep into the Bible, to him God never became merely an object for study.  He was a Lord to be obeyed, a God to be feared, and most of all Someone to be Loved.  Prince loved God.  When someone teaches the Bible, or preaches a sermon, and they really love God – I mean, really – you can tell.  And this man loved God.
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