A Friend’s Farewell
by Lewis J. Willis
Wade H. Horton
I

had known him by reputation for some time, but in the early days of 1950, I teamed with him in a camp meeting and really discovered him. For some inexplicable reason, I was featured as the night speaker and he was the morning Bible teacher. He was older, much more experienced, and definitely a superior speaker than I, but he was gracious, supportive and complimentary. I had become acquainted with Dr. Wade H. Horton, destined to serve 30 years on the Executive Council and 14 years on the Executive Committee of the Church of God. He served as general overseer on two different occasions. Strangely enough, our lives would intertwine for decades to come.

During the succeeding years, I came to know Brother Horton well. While we were not necessarily synony­mous in personality, perception or persuasion, we were united in the purpose and power of the gospel of Jesus Christ and became strong colleagues and mutually respectful friends and broth­ers. I truly loved and revered him as one of the substantial, strategic and sig­nificant individuals in the history of the Church of God.

During his generation, Dr. Wade H. Horton was undoubtedly the most clarion voice for staunch conservatism in Church of God theology and prac­tice. He was resolute in his determina­tion that, so far as he could allow, no compromise would ever weaken those precepts which he viewed to be invio­lable. While not everyone agreed with some of his strong views, no one doubted his utter sincerity In retro­spect, he must be recognized as an important guardian of the faith.

Most of all, Brother Horton was a gospel preacher. Whether as an evan­gelist, a pastor, a state overseer, a World Missions representative, or as a general administrator, he was an extraordinary preacher. Standing tall and commanding, his dark eyes intent, his strong jaw projecting to cradle a mouth with a half-smile, he thundered Gods message. At the age of 26, from a rough, rowdy and desperate back­ground, he stepped forth to preach “as a dying man to dying men,” and he never looked back. He circled the world several times preaching the gospel in 105 countries. Thousands, worldwide, have come to Christ because of his anointed ministry.

Equally adept as a teacher, Brother Horton taught the Word of God with insight and clarity. Thousands have been richly nurtured as he expounded the Scriptures. From my point of view, however, Dr. Horton has communicat­ed best through his books. It was my privilege as editor in chief to work with him on several of the 13 books he authored. At first, I honestly wondered who was his ghostwriter, because busy people sometimes employ others to write for them-but not Wade H. Horton. His books came from his own mind, heart and soul. Several of his books are best-sellers.

While Dr. Horton did not have the opportunity to prepare academically prior to entering his ministry, he pur­sued constantly a course of self ­improvement which resulted in an earned baccalaureate degree and a con­ferred doctorate degree. Brother Horton must be recognized as one of our more progressive leaders. He gave leadership to the establishment of the Church of God Theological Seminary and served as its first president; he inaugurated several new departments in the church; and he supported the reporting by the Church of God Evangel of the first out­pouring of the Holy Spirit on Catholic and Episcopalian priests.

Brother Horton was embraced by his church and acclaimed by the world, but he belonged particularly to his family. To his wife of 66 years, Ruby; his surviving children, Betty, John and David; and his extended family, he was protector, provider and priest. He inspired faith and hope in all of them and generously lavished love on each of them.

On Friday, May 15, 1998, at the age of 89, Wade Henry Horton, at his own home in his own bed, went to be with God. To our great church he leaves an incalculable contribution; to each of his friends, a venerable heritage; and to me personally, a sense of pleasure and privilege to have walked a distance with one of Gods special people.