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7/14/97 Needn’t ask this evangelist for a promotional brochure

DALLAS (BP)–Standing on stage in a dark suit and wing tips, he could have been mistaken for an investment banker.
Mike Gilchrist was on the platform at First Baptist Church, Dallas, to receive one of several plaques from the Conference of Southern Baptist Evangelists for “Outstanding Achievement in Evangelism,” a recognition much deserved after more than 40 years as a far-from-stereotypical vocational evangelist.
After shaking hands with the conference’s president, Tom Cox, Gilchrist sat down.
No recollections of past revivals. No mention of the leading Southern Baptist churches where he has preached.
Not even an acknowledgement that at the age of 67 he is still doing 35 to 40 meetings a year and has no plans of stopping.
He simply nodded in appreciation to the audience’s applause and sat down.
For those who know Gilchrist, his actions were to be expected. “He is such a man of integrity,” said Sonny Simpson, his pastor at Willow Point Baptist Church in Shreveport, La. “He’s not a politician. He’s not trying to push anything other than the gospel.”
In an interview before the mid-June conference meeting held during the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting, Gilchrist foreshadowed how he would respond to the award.
When first called into full-time evangelism, he recalled, a number of people told him he needed a brochure.
“I didn’t have any brochures,” Gilchrist said. “I was told that was the way to go about getting revivals.”
So with a wife, five children and one on the way, Gilchrist quickly placed an order for several hundred brochures.
But before he could send it out to prospective churches, Gilchrist said he became convicted by God that a brochure was not biblical.
“I burned the brochures,” he recounted, saying Scriptures such as Proverbs 27:2 convinced him promotional materials were not for him. “Let another man praise you, and not your own lips,” he quoted.
“I still don’t have a brochure.”
In keeping with the Scripture, it was Larry Taylor, a Texas evangelist, who praised Gilchrist during the conference as one of the most effective revivalist preachers in the SBC and a supportive friend and mentor to evangelists and pastors across the country in his nearly 50 years of gospel service.
In fact, in the first meeting Gilchrist ever preached, “seven preacher boys came out of that revival.”
Gilchrist was a 19-year-old Louisiana College student preaching a crusade at Harmony Baptist Church in Glenmora. “I stayed in the front room of the parsonage,” he said. “I remember I wasn’t well prepared. At that time we preached several services during the day. I spent all my time in my room studying in between services.”
He said he was never nervous preaching, although he described himself as a shy, timid teen. “My nature would have been to be nervous,” he said. “But once the Lord called me it took care of that.”
That call came late one night on the steps of a Pineville boarding house while Gilchrist prayed with his roommate. The Lord “wouldn’t leave me alone,” he said. “I told (his roommate) I couldn’t get away from it any longer.”
Gilchrist began his ministry as a pastor, serving five years in that capacity. “After five years, the Lord swiftly and undeniably called me” to vocational evangelism.
Though some people may have questioned that calling, Dottie, his wife of 46 years, never did.
“When he was called, I was called,” she said in an interview last year. “I wanted to know it was God’s will. And when I did, I had no problem with it.”
Her calling meant staying at home while her husband was on the road and doing most of the rearing of their six children.
“Now she gets to go with me most of the time, and I love it,” Gilchrist said.
Despite passing the traditional retirement age, Gilchrist has not missed a beat. “God has not given me strength — as in pumping iron — but he has given me a great endurance. I just feel good.
“As long as God opens the door and gives me help and strength to go through them, I’m on my way.”

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  • Mike Trice