5 Things You Should Know About Jack Wyrtzen (April 22, 1913 – April 17, 1996)

Jack Wyrtzen was the founder of the youth ministry I serve with: Word of Life Fellowship.  He was a man of God that was greatly used around the world.  On this day in 1996, Jack Wyrtzen went home to be with the Lord.  It impacted me because I was a 2nd year student at the Bible Institute and his death was on my birthday.  It made me realize that God moves people on and others have to pick up the baton and carry-on.  It was a milestone moment in my life.  There are some things about Jack that I have thought about over the years that are important things to realize:

1. His example of time in the Word

Many people have told me over the years that Jack Wyrtzen would start his day early and he would start it with 2 things: prayer and time in the Scripture.  His simple approach to faith in Christ made him usable – with Jack it wasn’t about what he was doing that day, it was about finding out what God was doing and getting on board.  His time in prayer/Scripture made that a reality.

2. His refusal to be status quo

Jack wasn’t your ordinary evangelist.  Again, many sources have told me that Jack was ‘different’.  He didn’t dress the ‘part’.  He didn’t speak the ‘part’.  He was comfortable in his own, simple, child-like skin.  This made him respectable because with Jack what you got was ‘Jack’.  You never had to wonder which man you were talking to.

3. His contagious enthusiasm

Jack always saw the bright side of situations – he didn’t allow his circumstances to control his life.  Even when things didn’t turn out exactly as expected, Jack would refuse to become cynical or pessimistic.  He would love, he would encourage, he believed with all his heart that he was ‘On the Victory Side’.  Jack had once asked me to remember to bring a particular box of literature to an event.  I completely forgot.  I didn’t  get any grief from Jack.  Maybe he forgot – who knows.  But I was extremely nervous and Jack’s friendliness even in my forgetfulness impacted me.

4. His love of life

It was the simple things of life that Jack found enjoyment in.  When I and the Impact Team were travelling with Jack through South America Jack had a nightly ritual (when possible): ice cream.  We just sat around and had a good time and relaxed.  Jack wasn’t so uptight that he couldn’t unwind and just have fun.  He was world renowned, but you’d never know it.

5. His passion to dream big for God

He just believed that God was a big God, and that a big God would do big things.  He had vision like no one else.  He believed his team around him was his great asset.  People would bring him ideas and he would encourage them to do it – fully expecting God to work and to bless.

26 Comments on “5 Things You Should Know About Jack Wyrtzen (April 22, 1913 – April 17, 1996)”

  1. I am the daughter of an evangelist who was saved through the ministry of Jack Wyrtzen.
    If it were not for his love ans passion for the gospel, my whole world would look different today. I loved seeing the picture of Uncle Jack… It reminded me of summers at WOL…. And all the wonderful memories of being given a legacy of passion and vision for sharing the gospel. You captured him well in your blog.
    Thank you for this lovely tribute. May we all leave a wake of excitement for loving God and loving people that will remain for generations.

    1. I was just telling my son about your parents testimony! What a legacy you have!! Amazing how God pulled your dad to Word of Life Island that day!

  2. I went to WOLBI in1986. I loved his enthusiasm for missions. He loved Jesus and people! A memory that always comes to mind is when he walked into chapel and would start singing -” Be a Missionary every day, tell the world that JESUS is the Way…..” Then would give us a list of good books to read on missions. He was truly an example of a man who loved Jesus and walked with him. I loved hearing his testimonies of sharing the Gospel with others. Such an encouragement! May we continue to grow in a personal relationship with our precious Savior Jesus Christ, accept others as Jesus accepts each one, and share the Good News loud and clear, through our mouths, attitudes and actions. Let’s keep PRESSING ON for JESUS!
    HOLDING forth the WORD of LIFE!!

    1. “Be a missionary every day, tell the world that Jesus is the way; The Lord is soon returning there is no time to lose so, be a missionary, God’s own emissary, be a missionary today!”

      When a student at WOLBI, my weekend ministry was to travel with Jack or Harry as their soloist before the sermon at a given church. To this day…..

      …..I fondly remember Jacks’ due diligence to protect his testimony at all costs. Jack and I were on a plane together & he took out the airline magazine in the pocket in front of him. If there was any current event articles he wanted to keep, he would always cut out any ads w/images of women in swimsuits first, and any liquor ads; then and only then, was OK to put the magazine in his briefcase!

  3. I went to WOBLI in 1986. One thing that always encouraged me was his love for JESUS, missions and people. He would come into chapel and start singing, “Be a missionary everyday, tell the wold that JESUS is the WAY…” His testimonies of sharing the Gospel with others was always a highlight for me too.
    “HOLDING forth the Word of Light; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither labored in vain. – Philippians 2:16

  4. I went to the BI in 1974. Traveling with Jack, Harry, Jimmy, Christine, Bobby and Patty and the rest, I enjoyed the constant adventure. Being a WOL Singer, Collegian and experiencing the many speakers, and the example through interactions with Jack was formative. Love the plaid jacket, the lively pants, the white hair, the huge smile and the “HUH” huge laugh. I account some of the impetus to being a Professor at Liberty University with the experience at the BI. The world is a better place and I am a better person because of his influence and ministry. Thank you Jack!

  5. I was on the B-ball team in 1990 and drove the van. We would pick Jack up and he would travel with us on many trips. He would sit in the passenger seat next to me for a good 3- 4 hours of driving. I had only been at the BI for about a month. Every time he got in the van he would ask me what I learned from QT. For awhile, I saw it as a test – like I’d better give him the right answer. It made me sharp, because I knew we might have to converse about the previous few days as well. A few months later, I realized that he wasn’t testing me. He was interested in me. I thought, “Why would this seasoned, veteran saint want to hear what this outcast, inexperienced 18 year old had to say about the scriptures?” He really wanted to listen to me, and he wanted to make an impact in my life. He simply cared about people, and after listening to Him talk about the Word – it stemmed from loving God. I remember trying to ask him many strategic questions about ministry, and thought provoking theological issues (as best as an 18 yr old could anyway). Shame on me for not remembering a number of his answers. To this day, I don’t remember everything he said, but I remember much of what he did during our time together. HE LOVE GOD AND LOVED PEOPLE. After 25 years of ministry, I’m reminded – That’s actually the answer to every question our finite brains can conjure. Thank You Lord for using Jack in my life.

  6. Went to WOLBI in 73. Got to se a lot of Jack and Harry. Even drove them to Albany Airport on ocassions! Was always a close call with the time but we always made it!

    1. I was the soloist for JACK (and sometimes Harry) in 1976 when they traveled). on one occasion, a friend of Jack’s (who owned a 6 passenger private plane) used his plane to take Jack & I to TOMS RIVER NEW JERSEY. Before takeoff, the pilot obtained a current weather report (so we thot’) before takeoff….

      …..but the WX report turned out to be 11 hours old. As we made our way eastward to New Jersey. We hit a horrific westbound storm. We were traveling at TopSpeed 187 mph and at times our airspeed was equal to the speed of the headwind- essentially – suspended in the clouds and not making ANY headway.

      Our speed matched the speed of the headwind exactly and we were NOT making any headway in terms of groundspeed. The storm was so bad that it was throwing the small aircraft all over the sky. At Times, the plan was alternating between 30° left to 30° to the right. We were at the mercy of the storm. Jack was sitting in the back and I in the front seat.

      GOOD THING because I had some flight experience and was able to help the pilot fight the wind. It took both of us to fly the plane and control the yoke (steering wheel). as we approached our destination we were finally blast with a little bit of visibility through the dens clouds. Once we were able to see the runway off in the distance we realize that we were way off course and had to ‘CRAB’ the plane severely 45 degrees to the left. We only had one chance to land the plane!

      As we approach the runway it became clear that we would be LUCKY just to land halfway down the runway. To our surprise, 25 feet above the runway the wind turned completely calm and we were able to land safely.

      As we parked to tie down the plane, we noticed that the brand-new Windsock was totally shredded due to the force of the wind. We even had to lean into the wind and go to walk to base operations and check in.

      As we walked into base operations, the man at the counter looked up at us with complete shock. He said, “NO BODY FLYS IN THIS KINDA WEATHER!!”

      GOD PROTECTED US!! I’ve always believed that the reason we arrived safely was that Jack was in the backseat praying constantly!!

  7. Love this Scott! Jack was a true mentor in so many ways. The week before we left on the Fall Let Freedom Ring tour (Sept. ’76) he brought me into his office to pray together. He was concerned about the size of the bite he and Harry Bollback were biting off (60 city tour, LOTS of financial commitments) and said, “Tim we all need to be praying about this…so let’s get to it.” The two of us prayed together and that impressed, impacted, and humbled me to be a part of what was being done thru WOL and the vision of these men of God.
    Grateful…

  8. I went to the BI 92-93. One of my fondest memories is the afternoon I was part of a group of students invited to his home for a meal and fellowship at his home. I’ll never forget him gleefully pulling out a VHS tape of a one man production “John on the Isle of Patmos” exclaiming “Hey, I think you kids are gonna like this!” It was during that afternoon and other interactions with him that I became convinced Jack truly loved the students. He didn’t do things out of obligation or because it was expected due to his position, but as a natural overflow of his love for God!

  9. WOLBI grad in 1981. Jack told me he did 70 pushups every morning, one I think for every year of his age or something like that. He wrote to me 2-3 times a year for the first couple of years after I graduated..what a privilege. He and the Collegians visited the U.S. Coast Guard Academy twice when I was a cadet there. Greatest Generation indeed.

  10. I was Harry Bollbacks favorite Angel & made Jack laugh a lot! Was privileged to eat in his home be part of his family during my Wolbi years 85-86~ both ‘adopted’ me & this after the death of my father in 84 so I believe the Lord placed Jack & Harry to ‘takeover’ and allow me the best experience in my life ~❤️ The Wrytzen’s & Bollbacks

  11. What a wonderful man, Had him preach many times in the churches I pasotred, Shared speaking with Harry at the West coast camp, and spoke for him in NY. He always spent time with my Boys when he visited us in MI. That, I sure, is one of the reasons all 4 of my boys are in full time ministry today.

  12. The ministry of Jack Wyrtzen and the Word of Life family blessed me and all of us at Hampden DuBose Academy for many, many years. Every summer, we on the faculty and staff would take turns going up to spend time on the Island or at the Inn. My first time to Word of Life (Island) was in the summer of 1967, just after I had graduated from Hampden DuBose Academy, where Jack and Harry had sent their kids and Jack and Harry had spoken many times during chapel and vesper services at the Academy. Don “Robbie” Robinson and Paul Bubar were two men that stuck in my memory that first visit to the Word of Life Island. What a blessing, was great memories, what a wonderful ministry Word of Life has! They deserve our prayers. God bless Word of Life!

  13. My wife, Patty and I travel thousands of miles with Jack during the early 1970’s. We literally saw the man from the inside out… This man was the real deal! He was filled with the Spirit of God which gave him a divine anointing for Youth and Evangelism, from those he never strayed. Jack loved people, motion, and anything adventurous. He rescued many a lonely, broken soul, who would have gone unnoticed by most.
    He was bold, daring, and sometimes ‘down right dangerous’ , but whatever he did he did it full throttle. He always abounded in the work of The Lord…and did it with great enthusiasm and overflowing joy! I am here today, as a devoted follower of Jesus, because of the life Jack Wyrtzen lived out before me.

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