This past Sunday, I spoke in a small church in northeast Wisconsin. Knowing of the love that many in that congregation have for Bible prophecy, I shared that Dr. Jimmy DeYoung had been announced as the featured speaker for this fall’s IFCA Wisconsin Regional meetings in October.
I did not realize until that evening that—by the time I gave that announcement—Dr. DeYoung was already experiencing that which the Apostle Paul described in Phil. 1:21:
For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.1
And, as Paul also wrote in 2 Cor. 5:8:
We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.
I first learned of Dr. DeYoung in the 1990s, when he became a regular part of the Day of Discovery television program from Our Daily Bread Ministries (formerly RBC Ministries). Those episodes were filmed in Israel and the Middle East, and I learned much from watching as I prepared for church on Sunday mornings.
Dr. DeYoung’s influence continued to grow steadily on Christian radio and television. He was often found on The John Ankerberg Show, and his own Prophecy Today ministry attracted a growing audience to various programs.
Dr. DeYoung had a background in media and relocated to Israel to operate as a journalist in 1991. He also earned a Ph.D. in 2000 from Louisiana Baptist University, writing a dissertation on Biblical prophecy. His extensive experience in the Holy Land, coupled with his dynamic speaking ability, brought him increasing opportunities to impart his expertise on prophetic themes—especially regarding the nation of Israel.
Dr. DeYoung was an ardent defender of premillennialism, the pretribulational rapture, traditional dispensational theology and the Biblical importance of Israel. And he was also a great friend to The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry, as he used to speak and write for the ministry on a regular basis.2 He was known for his broad smile and the contagious enthusiasm that always distinguished his presentations—whether he was preaching to an arena full of people, or giving a radio interview.
Both Dr. DeYoung and my own mentor, Dr. John Whitcomb, began to appear as guests on Worldview Weekend Radio with Brannon Howse about a decade ago. By that time, Dr. Whitcomb had already done several interviews on Dr. DeYoung’s radio program, Prophecy Today.3 I met Dr. DeYoung at an event that Howse organized in Indianapolis, where all three of these men spoke. It was there that I asked Dr. DeYoung if I could record his life story in a magazine article for Gospel Herald and The Sunday School Times, and he consented.4 It was difficult to encapsulate so much in one short article, but I enjoyed the challenge, and am grateful for the opportunity.
Dr. DeYoung was never one of my teachers, but my connection to him through Dr. Whitcomb almost makes him one by proxy.
Perhaps that is why his passing saddens me. We need not express any kind of “sorrow” for him (1 Thess. 4:13). It is not even—as I have already seen someone remark—that he will not be allowed to participate in the rapture, that event which he spoke about with such tremendous enthusiasm. Indeed, he and all “the dead in Christ” will play a greater role in that event than will anyone who is still alive upon the Earth (1 Thess. 4:16).
No, what really saddens me is that I am getting to that point in life where many of my teachers and leaders are no longer here with me. I can no longer call them. I can no longer ask their opinions. I can no longer say thank you.
As I get older, I have learned even more to treasure all the men who have had a great influence upon my life, and those with whom they were closely associated. There are getting to be fewer men of this caliber. I wonder if the day will come when it will even be difficult to find anyone who still embodies the qualities of their lives and teaching.
To those of my generation and younger, then, I close with this word of exhortation from Heb. 13:7:
Remember those who rule over you, who have spoken the word of God to you, whose faith follow, considering the outcome of their conduct.
1 Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
3 Dr. Whitcomb’s appearances on both Prophecy Today and Worldview Weekend Radio are preserved in the library at SermonAudio.com/Whitcomb, where they may be downloaded freely.
4 See Paul J. Scharf; “Dr. Jimmy DeYoung: A Passion to Proclaim the Word.” Gospel Herald and The Sunday School Times Vol. 32, No. 2. (Spring 2014): 26-27; https://www.uniongospelpress.com/media/upload/ghsp14.pdf; PDF file; Internet; accessed 19 August 2021.
Paul J. Scharf (M.A., M.Div., Faith Baptist Theological Seminary) is a church ministries representative for The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry, serving in the midwest. He also assists Whitcomb Ministries and writes for “Answers” Magazine and Regular Baptist Press. For more information on his ministry, visit foi.org/scharf or email firstname.lastname@example.org.