Feature

Sent from God

By Anonymous

John Minder was born in Akron, Ohio, on June 8, 1898, to Swiss immigrants who were members of the Reformed Church. At age 17 John confessed Christ as his Savior during a series of evangelistic services sponsored by Calvary Baptist Church and began attending Locust Street Alliance Church.

In the fall of 1917 Minder entered the Missionary Training Institute (now Nyack College, Nyack, N.Y.), where he was profoundly influenced by the teaching of Dr. A. B. Simpson. The following summer he and another student were appointed by H. M. Shuman, Central District superintendent, to conduct tent meetings in Huntington, West Virginia. A. W. Tozer was then called to pastor the new church that grew from those meetings. Minder used this technique to plant Alliance churches throughout the southeast.

Minder envisioned a spiritual center in Tampa, Florida, where people would be trained in practical and spiritual leadership. By 1925 he had built the 2,000-seat Tampa Gospel Tabernacle and was inviting famous speakers like Billy Sunday, Gypsy Smith and Oswald J. Smith to hold campaigns.1

In 1932 Minder helped to found the Florida Bible Institute (now Trinity College), where he served as a professor and board member until his death in 1980. Minder was college dean when student William Graham arrived and shook the campus with his playful pranks and nonchalant attitude. But Dean Minder recognized potential when he saw it.

During spring vacation of 1937 Minder invited Graham to stay at a conference center he had developed on the shores of Lake Swan near Melrose. On Easter Sunday he took Graham to nearby Palatka, where the dean was to speak at a small Baptist church. “You’re preaching tonight,” Minder informed the student.

“No, sir!” said the horrified young man. “I’ve never preached before.”

“Well,” replied Dean Minder, “you are preaching tonight. When you run out, I’ll take over.”

Coincidentally, Graham had been practicing four messages from a book of Lee Scarborough sermons. Shaking and sweating, he preached all four in eight minutes and then collapsed into his seat.2 Such was the beginning of the preaching ministry of William Franklin Graham—better known as Billy. Minder invited Graham to preach to the young people at Tampa Gospel Tabernacle, and the sermon was so well received that Minder invited him to become youth pastor. On August 13, 1943, Minder officiated at the wedding ceremony of Billy Graham and Ruth Bell.

As superintendent of the Southeastern District of the C&MA, 1930–1934, John Minder continued establishing churches that stand today as a testimony for Christ. From 1934–1935 Minder’s daily radio broadcasts impacted Southern Georgia.3 The title of John Minder’s biography, authored by his wife, Lorene, sums up his life of service: A Man Sent from God.

—Anne S. Moore

1 Robert L. Niklaus, All for Jesus, p. 155.
2 Robert J. Morgan, On This Day, reading for March 28, “William’s Sermon.”
3 Southeastern District Report (Special Edition, May 1977), p. 19.

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