By: Jaime Wyrtzen Lauze
Before Billy Graham, there was Jack Wyrtzen. Does that name sound familiar? Jack Wyrtzen was the father of FSE Project Manager Ron Wyrtzen. While Jack Wyrtzen's family was plagued by poverty, they believed in hard work. This idea was tested when Henry Wyrtzen, Jack's father, lost his job. Young Jack dropped out of school to support his family. From the outside, this appeared to be a terrible start for a young man, but God had other plans. After Jack's family got back on their feet, he was able to begin pursuing his own interests. He was later hired by Merchants Fire Insurance as a salesman. He did not realize the irony of this at the time, but would later.
In October of 1932, one of Jack's friends gave him a copy of the Gospel of John. He had always tried to be a good person, but had not been open to becoming a Christian. Soon after reading the book, he gave his life to Jesus. Instantly, he changed from the inside out. Unable to keep this good news to himself, he witnessed to anyone who would listen. You know that term "soap box preacher?" Soap boxes were one of the few items that fit the bill to stand on while preaching on the street corners of New York City. Later on, he would be known for a sermon called "What is that in thine hand?". Using whatever he had became one of the reasons for his success—t hat was part of his genius.
He was one of the first well-known preachers to cross the lines of diversity. He embraced anyone who believed Jesus, no matter their color, social status or history, and stood up to well-known racist leaders.
Jack was always open to opportunities to reach out to people. He was never a doubter, so when he was offered the chance to quit his day job and pursue full-time ministry, he jumped in with both feet. By this time, he was supporting a young family and trusted that God would provide. It began with a radio ministry that turned into a television ministry and eventually became a ministry of camps, Bible clubs and Bible schools that have expanded to more than 33 countries on five different continents.
This high school drop-out went on to start the international ministry of Word of Life Fellowship. Enthusiastic evangelistic rallies full of to-the-point sermons, inspiring true stories of changed lives and wonderful music were his trademark. Jack played a huge part in changing the way the gospel was shared in this country and around the world. As a result, thousands upon thousands of people were saved.
It all began when he became converted, but none of this would have happened had he been preoccupied by his lack of education. He knew that if God called him, God would help him reach out to other people. All of his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren have inherited his single-minded tenacity. We learned early on that there is no point in giving up if our endeavors are backed up by the very Creator of the universe. We know that if God could turn Moses' staff into a snake, He can surely use whatever it is that we hold. Over the years, FSE has had the opportunity to support this ministry with donations of vehicles, tools and equipment.
FSE President and Vice President recently visited Word of Life Headquarters in Schroon Lake, NY. Both commented how fantastic a place it was. They were amazed at the dedication and representation displayed by the administration, employees, friends and colleagues of tThe Word of Life family. As they toured the Jack Wyrtzen Center in Schroon Lake, Darwin Parker closed his eyes while looking at a picture of Jack Wyrtzen ministering to a crowded Madison Square Gardens, imagining what it felt like on that day. He opened his eyes with a smile and could only shake his head in awe.
To learn more about the Word of Life Fellowship, please visit www.wol.org.