Happy Birthday, Dad

As many of you know, March 15 will be Dad’s eighty-sixth birthday. It’s hard to believe; the time has passed by so fast.

I love to study history, and one word that I continually see over and over in the many books I’ve read is the word legacy. By one definition it means, “something that is a part of your history or that remains from an earlier time,” and it offers, I believe, a glimpse not only into human relationships but also the human spirit. A person’s legacy presents the opportunity to examine a life from its beginning to its present state.

As I look back on my father’s life, I see a legacy of the work of God. I see a man who came out of literally nowhere and started a worldwide ministry—a ministry that has seen untold millions of people saved, healed, and filled with the Holy Spirit. In just about every place I go to preach, I meet people who have either had family members saved or received Christ themselves under Jimmy Swaggart Ministries.

I see a broadcast ministry that, for more than fifty-two years, has carried the gospel of Jesus Christ over radio and television across the United States and to the far corners of the world. What began as single television program airing once per week has become the SonLife Broadcasting Network which, in only ten years, has grown to be one of the largest and fastest growing Christian television networks in the world, with active media church members from nearly one hundred countries. And that one radio program is now SonLife Radio, which broadcasts the gospel on seventy-nine stations twenty-four hours per day, seven days per week all across the United States.

I see a legacy of music that has touched lives all over the world. During the 1980s, on our way to Australia for a series of crusades, I remember us stopping for a day off in the Fiji Islands. That afternoon, as I was walking around the hotel, I began to hear music. It sounded familiar, but I couldn’t quite place it. Finally, after several minutes, I found the source—a gift shop was playing, “There Is a River.” I asked the lady behind the counter if she liked the music. “Oh, yes,” she said. “His music is lovely and anointed. Do you know the singer?” I paused a moment and said, “Yes, he’s my father.” That dear sister got on the phone and, in a minute’s time, Christians from all over the city came to see Dad.

I see a ministry that, with the help of our members and supporters, has given more than one million Bibles to pastors, teachers, and lay persons free of charge in countries all over the world. The Expositor’s Study Bible has been translated into Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, and Chinese, and we are currently working on versions in German, French, and Vietnamese. And we cannot overlook the countless volumes of commentaries, study guides, and other books written to help Christians understand the Word of God.

Here in Baton Rouge, I see a church preaching the message of the cross to a city (and by way of SBN, the world). I see Christ-centered education offered to children at every level—preschool through high school—as well as a college that prepares students for ministry as pastors, teachers, evangelists, missionaries, youth pastors, and more.

A legacy, to me, is also family. As the only son, who never thought he would ever preach, I look back on my life and see the help that God gave this young, struggling minister of the gospel. I am grateful for the many years I have had ministering with my Dad here at Family Worship Center Church and around the world.

My family grew to include three children—Jennifer, Gabe, and Matt—who were later joined by their spouses—Cliff, Jill, and Joanna. All of them love the Lord, and all of them are saved, filled with the Spirit, involved in their local churches, and one serving in full-time ministry.

Today, when I look at nine of the sweetest grandchildren a family could ever have, I see legacy. Jennifer has given us Harper and her younger brother, Harrison. Gabe has four daughters: Samantha, Abby, Caroline, and Mackenzie. And Matt has three children: Ryder, Lola, and Navy.

All of them are beautiful beyond imagination. But more importantly, all of them love God. I see the legacy of faith running from my Dad through Debbie and me to our children and grandchildren, which is why Debbie and I feel that we have the greatest legacy a couple could ever have.

So, on this special birthday, Debbie and I count our blessings every day for the legacy we have through Jimmy Swaggart. We all love you, Dad, and we wish you a very happy eighty-sixth birthday.

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