Of all the preachers I have known and interacted with in my life, if I had to name a favorite, it would be Dr. A.V. Henderson. Dr. Henderson married my grandparents and was their pastor in Merkel, Texas a long, long time ago. His mastery of the pulpit eventually took him to the pastorate of the historic Temple Baptist Church, Detroit, MI, which was, at the time, one of the five largest churches in America, once pastored by the inimitable J. Frank Norris.
Henderson would also later serve as the president of Baptist Bible College in Springfield, MO., which I would attend in the early 1980s.
You have heard the term “preaching machine?” Well, if that is a complimentary term, then Henderson was a preaching machine if ever one existed, though there was nothing mechanical in his manner or delivery.
Every preacher knows that, when you are speaking to an unfamiliar crowd, there is a bit of “warm-up” required. You have to establish a rapport with the people. Dr. Henderson never bothered warming up a crowd. He walked to the pulpit preaching…and you were drawn in – a moth to the light. There was something in the way pure eloquence would pour from that warm, west Texas cadence that was utterly captivating. He spoke with power, purpose and clarity. His knowledge of the subject was always supreme and his ability to make even the most uninformed “see” what he was saying was unmatched.
People said you could set your watch by Dr. Henderson’s sermons.
“Twenty minutes on the dot.”
He never preached long, but he said enough in those 20 minutes to keep your mind and heart engaged for that many hours. He left you wanting more, but he gave you enough and then some.
I imagined, as I watched him perform the divine art from my perch on the platform, that even Heaven’s angels stopped their activities to listen to that man expound the Word and glorify their Lord.
One of the highlights of my life was when, as a young pastor in Paris, Texas, I was able to bring Dr. Henderson to preach a meeting at my church. He preached in Paris, Texas to a few hundred the same way he preached in Detroit to thousands. I imagined, as I watched him performing the divine art from my perch on the platform, that even Heaven’s angels hushed themselves to listen to that anointed man expound the Word and glorify their Lord.
God bless the preachers who craft sermons with care, bathe them in tears, boil them in zeal, and deliver them in the Spirit.
I have buried the lead here, I guess, but I don’t care. This isn’t a news article. I want you to know what I think about him when I tell you that he is now 96 years old, living in Mount Pleasant, Texas, and has Leukemia. My sister attends the church he and his wife attend. She told me this morning of his condition. Doctors will not be treating it due to his advanced age and frailty. The lovely Mrs. Henderson is there by his side, where she has been for more than 70 years!
God bless the pulpiteers whose hearts are as great as their words are eloquent. God bless the preachers whose lives match their sermons. God bless the men who stand in the gap and make up the hedge. God bless the preachers who craft sermons with care, bathe them in tears, boil them in zeal, and deliver them in the Spirit.
God bless AV Henderson, whom I love.
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