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Dr. Charles F. Stanley's Legacy.


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A few years ago, while visiting Atlanta, Georgia I had the Privilege to attend the First Baptist Church. Little was I unaware that Dr. Charles Stanley was Senior Pastor. I never heard nor seen him before. However, I was awestruck at his teachings. I was so in love with this Minister, that I attended his Church for one year before heading back to Illinois. Dr. Stanley was a very nice person. One Sunday, I wrote a note that I would like to meet with him in person. A day later, my cell phone rang. The guy on the other end said, "Is this Andrew Wilson?" I told the caller it was. He then said, "This is Dr. Charles Stanley." I thought for a moment it was a prank call. Then he said, "My son Andy is visiting with me, and I showed him your note to me, and I wanted to know if you would like to join us for dinner this evening." I couldn't believe it. I thought I couldn't refuse. Dr. Stanley was my idol after listening to 4 weeks of his sermons. Later that evening, I went to his house. His son Andy Stanley met me there. Andy Stanley is the founder and senior pastor of North Point Ministries, a nondenominational evangelical Christian church with several campuses across the north metro Atlanta area. His television program "Your Move with Andy Stanley" has been broadcast since 2012. When I met Dr. Stanley and his son, I thought I never wanted to go back to Illinois. However, I knew I had to because my wife Dorothy was home alone, and I really was very protected of her. I would often contact her to see if she was doing okay. Before I left Dr. Stanley's house that evening he asked if he and his son could pray for me. So the three of us prayed together.

I wanted to share his legacy for those of you who never heard of him. Dr. Charles F. Stanley was the senior pastor of First Baptist Church Atlanta for more than fifty years. He was also the founder of In Touch Ministries and a New York Times best-selling author, who wrote more than seventy books encouraging people to seek Jesus as their Savior and know Him as their wise and loving Lord. Charles Frazier Stanley was born September 25, 1932, in the small town of Dry Fork, Virginia. The only child of Charley and Rebecca Stanley, Charles came into the world during a time when the entire nation felt the grip of the Great Depression. To make matters worse, just nine months later, his father Charley died at the young age of 29. However, Charles refused to let the Great Depression or the difficulties of his life define him. Through the excellent counsel and example of his godly mother, Rebecca, he learned to trust God and obey His Word wholeheartedly. At the age of fourteen, Dr. Stanley received a clear call to the ministry and—like his father and grandfather before him—he took up the mantle to preach the gospel to whomever would listen. Dr. Stanley began pastoring in 1957 at Fruitland Baptist Church in North Carolina, where he also taught homiletics, preaching, and evangelism at the Fruitland Bible Institute. He went on to serve as pastor of First Baptist Church of Fairborn, Ohio, in 1959; First Baptist Church of Miami, Florida, in 1962, where he also founded the George Mueller Christian School in 1966; and First Baptist Church of Bartow, Florida, in 1968. On October 1, 1971, Dr. Stanley became senior pastor of the First Baptist Church of Atlanta, Georgia, where he served until his homegoing. In 1972, he launched a half-hour program called “The Chapel Hour” on Atlanta stations WXIA-TV 11 and WANX 46. Looking for a practical Bible teaching program, the Christian Broadcasting Network contacted Dr. Stanley in 1978 to request that the program be included in its new venture—a satellite distribution network to cable systems. That broadcast grew from 16,000 local Atlanta viewers to a nationwide audience in one week. By 1982, In Touch Ministries was incorporated and began radio syndication. At its height, the “In Touch with Dr. Charles Stanley” program reached almost every major market in the United States, broadcasting to more than 115 million households domestically with the message of Christ’s sufficiency for life’s demands. Dr. Stanley was inducted into the National Religious Broadcaster’s (NRB) Hall of Fame in 1988 and also served two terms as president of the Southern Baptist Convention (1984–1986). From that point on, Dr. Stanley tirelessly sought out and employed innovative technologies to send the message of Jesus Christ to the ends of the earth. At the time of his passing, the “In Touch” program was being broadcast on more than 4,000 television, radio, and satellite networks and stations worldwide, and his sermons had been translated into 127 heart languages. Throughout his life and ministry, Dr. Stanley demonstrated an intimate awareness of people’s needs and provided Christ-centered, biblically-based principles for everyday life. His motivation was best represented by the truth found in Acts 20:24 (TLB): “Life is worth nothing unless I use it for doing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about God’s mighty kindness and love.” Dr. Stanley always understood that it wasn’t by one’s strength or talent that people would find hope and salvation, but in Christ working through willing, obedient vessels. He said, “It is the Word of God and the work of God that changes people’s lives.” Certainly, the Lord worked powerfully through the obedient, submitted life of Dr. Charles Stanley.

On Tuesday, April 18, 2023, In Touch Ministries announced that beloved pastor Dr. Charles Frazier Stanley had passed away at 7:30 a.m. that morning at age 90. Known to audiences around the world through his wide-reaching TV and radio broadcasts, Stanley modeled his 65 years of ministry after the apostle Paul’s message in Acts 20:24: “Life is worth nothing unless I use it for doing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about God’s mighty kindness and love.”Born Sept. 25, 1932, at the height of the Great Depression, in Dry Fork, Virginia, Stanley was raised by a single mother after his father died when Stanley was only nine months old. After receiving a call to ministry at the age of 14, Stanley earned a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Richmond in Richmond, Virginia, and a Bachelor of Divinity at Southwestern Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. He later went on to earn the distinctions of Master and Doctor of Theology from Luther Rice Seminary in Atlanta. Before joining the staff of First Baptist Atlanta, Stanley served as pastor of Fruitland Baptist near Hendersonville, North Carolina (1957–1959); First Baptist of Fairborn, Ohio (1959–1962); First Baptist of Miami, Florida (1962–1968); and First Baptist of Bartow, Florida (1968). Stanley would become associate pastor of First Baptist Church of Atlanta on October 1, 1969.
It was two years later, on October 1, 1971, when Stanley assumed his longtime role as senior pastor of First Baptist Atlanta. The following year, he launched his foray into broadcast ministry with a 30-minute program, The Chapel Hour, on Atlanta-area TV stations WXIA and WANX (now WGCL).
The Chapel Hour—renamed In Touch with Dr. Charles Stanley—went nationwide in 1978 after the Christian Broadcasting Network contacted Stanley, looking for a practical, Bible-teaching program for its new satellite distribution network. The broadcast grew from 16,000 local viewers to a nationwide audience in just one week. This led to the expansion and incorporation of Stanley’s ministry as a separate non-profit entity called In Touch Ministries (ITM) in 1982 and the In Touch radio broadcast entered syndication. During the 1980s, the In Touch program penetrated almost every major market in the United States, reaching more than 1 million households. At the time of his death, Stanley’s messages were heard in more than 127 languages around the world via radio, shortwave, the Messenger Lab project, or TV broadcasts. Stanley was the country’s longest-serving pastor with a continuous weekly broadcast program.
Believing, as he often said, that people are to “obey God and leave all the consequences to Him," Stanley focused his preaching on practical, Christ-centered, biblically based principles for everyday life. Many of his messages incorporated the 30 Life Principles that guided his life and helped him grow in his knowledge, service, and love of God. Other messages tackled such topics as parenting, finances, personal crises, emotions and relationships, prayer, and the character of God. Not having sought out the public spotlight, Stanley was a pastor who happened to be on TV, focused on teaching others how to seek and obey God through adversity and personal hardships.
Notable organizations and publishers honored Stanley throughout his long ministry. Stanley served two terms as president of the Southern Baptist Convention in 1985 and 1986. In 1988, he was inducted into the National Religious Broadcasters Hall of Fame for the consistent excellence of his broadcast, and leadership in the realm of Christian TV and radio. Religious Heritage of America named him Clergyman of the Year in 1989, an award that recognizes pastors who strive to make Judeo-Christian principles part of America’s daily life. In 1993, the NRB honored In Touch with the Television Producer of the Year award, and in 1999, with the Radio Program of the Year award. Most recently, Stanley was recognized for selling more than 10 million copies of his more than 70 books, the latest of which was published in 2023.