When I received word of his passing a few days ago, I sat in my office chair and wept. My tears were bittersweet… bitter, because the world is darker without him – sweet, because he has finished his course and he is finally in the arms of the one he loved so much and preached so powerfully.
Of all the men who have influenced me, my preaching, and my Christianity, he is easily in the top 5. I had never heard of Jimmy Allen until I arrived at Harding University in 1983. Once I met him as a professor teaching at Harding School of Biblical Studies, I immediately knew he was unique. Since those years I have often said, “When God made Jimmy Allen, He broke the mold.” His preaching was dynamic, powerful, and packed with reason and Scripture. His classes were a little more subtle, but still loaded with conviction and purpose. He was famous at Harding for his course on Romans. The joke around campus was that Jimmy actually wrote Romans, not Paul. His personality was larger than life and his laugh was unique and contagious. I, along with many of my classmates, often imitated his laugh... no doubt, a form of flattery.
While at Harding I had the opportunity to hear him preach on numerous occasions in Gospel Meetings, at the College Church and the Westside Church, and in Chapel at H.S.B.S.. I never missed an opportunity to hear him preach. His sermons moved people to respond to the Gospel and often stirred the "Fire in my bones."
In a 2010 interview with The Christian Chronicle, Jimmy Allen, then 79, estimated he had conducted about 1,400 gospel meetings, resulting in 40,000 to 50,000 responses and at least 10,000 baptisms.
Allen, a 1952 Harding graduate, was perhaps best known for his 50 citywide preaching campaigns to tens of thousands in civic centers, coliseums and sports stadiums across the nation during the 1960s and 70s. During one 10-day meeting in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1965, Allen said, 270 people were baptized.
“From the day I became a Christian at Harding, I knew (the Gospel) was too good for me to keep my mouth shut,” Allen told the Chronicle. “I’ve shared the Gospel wherever I go — with hitchhikers, in restaurants, on airplanes. Seems to me like this is what Christians are supposed to be doing.”
In 1968, Allen was one of more than 40 prominent Black and White ministers who gathered in Atlanta to discuss ways to improve race relations in Churches of Christ.
Jimmy Allen was a great Gospel preacher and he is still preaching today. Good News Radio, a worldwide internet radio station and outreach of CrossWay Missions, has 57 sermons he preached over the years. Those sermons are being preached 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Paired with many other great Gospel preachers, the station is on the verge of reaching 1,000,000 minutes of sermons listened to in 202 countries, providences, and sovereign states. You can listen to Allen’s sermons here.
For me, one of the most wonderful things about heaven will be… I will spend eternity with preachers and teachers like Jimmy Allen, Avon Malone, Neil Pryor, Jim Woodruff, Marvin Phillips, Cliff Ganus, and many other faithful Gospel preachers who have fought the good fight and have finished their course.
Rest in Peace Jimmy Allen.