Dr. John Edmund Haggai, founder of Haggai International, a ministry to equip indigenous leaders for world evangelism to reach their own nations with the gospel, passed away at the age of 96 on the morning of November 18, 2020.
Born in Louisville, Kentucky in 1924, Dr. Haggai served for 75 years in the ministry, leaving a legacy that equipped “more than 123,800 leaders in 189 nations who had led millions to a saving knowledge of Jesus,” according to CEO Dr. Bev Upton Williams of the international ministry, who wrote the tribute on Facebook.
According to the ministry’s official website, “a visit to Asia in the early 1960s convinced Haggai that changes in global geopolitics, brought about by the end of colonialism, required a new strategy for world evangelism. In 1969, after years of research, prayer, and development, he presided over the first advanced leadership seminar, designed to empower and mobilize nationals to reach their own people for Christ.”
As 2.2 billion people have never heard the gospel, the ministry is dedicated to equipping and inspiring “strategically positioned leaders who are multiplying their influence in mind — to end Gospel poverty.”
Born on 27 February 1924, Dr. Haggai was the eldest son of “a Syrian immigrant and a New Englander whose English ancestors settled in America during the 1600s.” The young Haggai accepted Jesus Christ as his savior at the age of around four and was called to preach two years later. When he was ten, he “felt God calling him to serve as a missionary in China.”
When he turned 17, “his father pastored Brookville Baptist Church in Holbrook, Massachusetts.” In 1945, “John Haggai attended Moody Bible Institute, where he met Christine Barker. They married on 3 August 1945, the day after graduation.”
In 1945, he changed to become a pastor instead of going to China due to political conditions. According to The Chattanoogan, he pastored Jackson Baptist Church in Wellford, South Carolina, Second Baptist Church in Lancaster, South Carolina, Woodland Park Baptist Church in Chattanooga, and Ninth and O Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky. During his last year as a pastor, his church led all evangelical denominations in the U.S. in the number of new members by conversion, according to Haggai International’s special Memorial Home page.
“Following his pastorates, he became an itinerant evangelist for 13 years, choosing Atlanta as his base from 1961 onward,” according to The Chattanoogan. His journeys took him to Lebanon, Indonesia, Switzerland, Singapore, India, Egypt, and China. His first trip to China was in 1984 and he visited the country regularly until 2015.
Dr. Haggai authored more than a dozen books, including How to Win Over Worry, The Influential Leader, My Son Johnny, and Success Secrets of the Bible.”
“Mrs. Haggai went to be with the Lord in August 2019, a week after their 74th wedding anniversary.” Their only son Jonny died in 1975 at 25. CEO Dr. Williams added in the letter, “We can only imagine the celebration that he is having with his wife, Christine, and their son, Johnny, as they rejoice in the faithfulness of the God he loved so much.”
As “an alumnus of Moody Bible Institute and Furman University and the recipient of honorary doctorates on both sides of the Pacific,” and as a missionary and an evangelist, he lived” by his own motto: Attempt something so great for God, that it is doomed to failure unless God be in it.”