CHRISTIANITY TODAY – Charles Stanley once took a punch to the face for his church. The longtime pastor and oft-praised preacher, who died on Tuesday at age 90, fought hard to lead in his Southern Baptist congregation, earning him a reputation for faithful obstinacy, a commitment to following God’s will, and a life of devout prayer.
He frequently repeated his life motto, which he learned from his grandfather: “Obey God and leave all the consequences to him.” That kind of obedience wouldn’t come without cost, Stanley said, but God rewards stubborn faith.
“Granddad told me, ‘Charles, if God tells you to run your head through a brick wall, you head for the wall,’” he wrote in his 2016 memoir, “‘and when you get there, God will make a hole for it.’”
Stanley was the pastor at First Baptist Church Atlanta for 51 years. He started as associate minister in 1969, when the megachurch had 5,000 members, and remained in the pulpit until 2020, when it had about 15,000 members.
He also preached daily on the radio and television through In Touch Ministries, which he founded in 1972, and was widely regarded as one of the best preachers of his generation, along with Charles Swindoll and Billy Graham.
Stanley’s son, Andy, is also a megachurch pastor in Atlanta and a much-praised preacher. They were the only father-son duo to rank on Lifeway Research or George W. Truett Theological Seminary’s lists of most-influential living preachers.
Stanley was a founding member of both the Moral Majority and the Christian Coalition, served as president of the Southern Baptist Convention at a key moment in the struggle between conservatives and moderates, and wrote more than 50 books.
The future preacher was born in 1932 in Dry Fork, Virginia, which he would later say was a town so small it wasn’t on the map. His father, also named Charles, died when Stanley was only nine months old …