A Man Sent from God
John Monroe Parker
June 23, 1909-June 23, 2009
Editor’s Note: Today marks the one hundredth anniversary of Dr. Monroe’s birth. He went home to glory on July 17, 1994.
“There was a man sent from God, whose name was John” (John 1:6). John Monroe Parker was born June 23, 1909, in Thomasville, Alabama. His parents, Jacob and Lucy Parker, named him after John Parker, a paternal uncle who was a Baptist preacher, and Monroe, a maternal uncle who died in infancy. He was always known by his middle name. Before he reached school age, Parker’s parents moved the family to Texas. When he was thirteen, his parents returned to Thomasville, Alabama, and in 1925 the family moved to Birmingham. There the robust young man, an outstanding athlete, finished high school and entered college.
Monroe’s parents were godly people, and they provided a godly atmosphere in the home. Monroe made a profession of faith at eight years of age and was baptized in Edgewood, Texas. He records that though he gave intellectual assent to the truths of Christianity, “I was a sinner and I knew it.”1 Many of us remember Monroe Parker’s statement about his early college years as a lost church member. He used to say, “I helped make the twenties roar.” 2
Under conviction because of his sin, young Parker determined to reform. He quit all his bad habits but still was not saved. In this condition he agreed to teach a class of junior boys at a Methodist church in Birmingham. Through his parents’ prayers and counsel and after hearing Evangelist Bob Shuler preach, he fell under conviction of sin one Sunday morning while teaching his Sunday school class. He trusted Christ on the spot, made his profession of faith public that morning, and joined the Methodist church. The next Thursday night God brought Bob Jones Sr. to Birmingham, and Monroe Parker heard him preach. That fall, in September 1928, he enrolled in Bob Jones College, which was then located in Florida.
Thus began the Christian life of an evangelist whom God used greatly. During that first year in college, the Lord called Parker to preach. After some struggle, he surrendered to God’s will. He began preaching immediately. He graduated from Bob Jones College in 1931 and returned for graduate work in the fall. After completing one year of graduate studies, he launched into full-time evangelistic work.
The years 1932-1937 were marked by great usefulness in the Lord’s work. In 1933 he married his first wife, Harriette. He preached in evangelistic meetings across the country, and many were saved. The story of his great campaign in Bevier, Kentucky, is too long to recite here, but is a testimony to God’s power.3
The year 1934 saw a life-changing event in Dr. Parker’s life. He spent most of his childhood years in the Methodist denomination, and he ministered during his first six years as a Methodist. Seeing the encroachments of modernism among the Methodists and becoming convinced of the Baptist distinctives, he was ordained as a Baptist preacher on December 2, 1934. He preached for sixty-five years, sixty of those years as a convicted Baptist.
Parker’s ministry led him into diverse endeavors. He served for twelve years as professor, director of religious activities, and assistant to the president at Bob Jones University. He later served for eight years as president of Pillsbury Baptist Bible College. He was instrumental in the founding of Baptist World Mission and served as its general director for twenty-five years. He served as pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Decatur, Alabama, from 1954 until 1958. Other articles reflect on his work as an educator and mission leader.
Dr. Monroe Parker’s life is a testimony to the grace and power of God. The Holy Spirit convicted him of his sin and drew him to Christ. The authority of Scripture led him to Baptist convictions. He dedicated his life to the service of the Lord, and God greatly used him.
In whatever else he did, and in every ministry to which God led him, Monroe Parker was first and always a fervent evangelist. He was consumed with a passion to tell lost people about his Savior, to lead them to Christ, and to train and assist others as they preached the glorious Gospel in the United States and around the world. May God help us to work consistently for the salvation of lost souls, the discipleship of believers, and the establishment of New Testament churches.
Psalm 91 was his favorite passage of Scripture. I encourage you to read it again.
He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.
Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence.
He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.
Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day;
Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday.
A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee.
Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked.
Because thou hast made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation;
There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.
For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.
They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.
Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet.
Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name.
He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him.
With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him my salvation.
1. Monroe Parker, Through Sunshine and Shadows, My First 77 Years (Murfreesboro, TN: Sword of the Lord Publishers, 1987), 58.
|Dr. Fred Moritz is currently executive director at Baptist World Mission, where he has served since 1981. He will complete his ministry there on July 31 and this fall will begin teaching at Maranatha Baptist Seminary in Watertown, Wisconsin.|
My parents became friends of the Parkers after he remarried. Once when my husband and I were visiting my folks, the Parkers came for dinner, and as we sat around the table, Dr. Parker reminisced for quite awhile. I knew we were in the presence of a great servant of God.
Dr. Parker was a friend of our former pastor, Dr. Russell Rice (also with the Lord now) and he would sometimes come preach at our church. On one of his visits, our six-year-old son was to be baptized that Sunday night, and in the morning service I told Dr. Parker that there would possibly be some unsaved family members in the service that night. Even at his advanced age, Dr. Parker preached a tremendous message on “Oh, Jerusalem, Jerusalem…ye would not!” That was fourteen years ago, not long before his passing.
I count it a privilege to have had some contact with Dr. Parker.
Roger Carlson, PastorBerean Baptist Church
Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.