John Edmund Haggai, who pastored at Woodland Park Baptist Church from 1951-1954 and went on to found an international ministry and become a best-selling author, has died at 96.
Dr. Haggai played a significant role in the demographic shift and globalization of Christianity. Dr. Haggai, whose personality was zealous and magnetic, was nevertheless, by his own intention, an often-unheralded contributor to the explosion of Christian faith worldwide - especially in Asia, Africa and Latin America.
John Haggai was born on Feb.
27, 1924 in Louisville, Kentucky, son of Waddy Haggai, a Syrian immigrant, and Mildred Steere, a New Englander whose English ancestors settled in America in the 1600s. An alumnus of Moody Bible Institute and Furman University, he received numerous awards and honorary doctorates on both sides of the Pacific.
Dr. Haggai was a prolific author. His book, How to Win Over Worry, has sold millions. In Be Careful What You Call Impossible, he expounded on one of his primary principles: “Attempt something so great for God it’s doomed to failure unless God be in it.” That’s exactly what Dr. Haggai did in 1969, when he launched the ministry that would be known as Haggai International. Some doubted his vision of equipping indigenous leaders in developing nations to become evangelists and missionaries to their own people. However, the global impact shows that God was in the vision that would have been “doomed to failure” otherwise.
Dr. Haggai married Christine Barker, an accomplished vocalist, on August 3, 1945. Their son, Johnny, was born November 27, 1950. The physician who delivered the child was inebriated and caused brain injury. Nevertheless, Johnny Haggai, though severely restricted physically, lived 24 years, and was an example of dedication, patience, courage, and intercession. Later in his life, Dr. Haggai said he had learned through Johnny’s experience a lesson that stood out to him more than any other: “God allows no need in our lives for which He does not provide adequate supply.” That philosophy and attitude would be important to John Edmund Haggai as he stepped into a ministry that would contribute greatly to the transformation of the map of global Christianity.
Though Dr. Haggai’s early years were spent as a pastor in the United States, and one of the most successful evangelists of the American South’s revival era, his passion from early youth was to get Christ’s Gospel to unreached people. As early as 10, John Haggai wanted to be a missionary to China. After many years on the revival circuit as one of America’s most-sought evangelists, Dr. Haggai, in the late 1960s, seemed to vanish from public view. “Whatever became of John Haggai?” many asked in that period. The answer was that, after knowing public acclaim, impressive platforms, pulpits, and bright spotlights, John Haggai turned from that to pursue the God-given vision to multiply leaders demonstrating and proclaiming the Gospel across the developing world.
Dr. Haggai often said that his wife, Chris, and son, Johnny, taught him much. Chris was her son’s primary caregiver, enabling Dr. Haggai to minister to the nations. Her faithfulness in the ministry to Johnny - as well as in music that glorified God, at Dr. Haggai’s side as much as possible - blessed and encouraged him. Johnny’s own endurance of pain and limitations strengthened Dr. Haggai.
In his moving book, My Son Johnny, Dr. Haggai wrote: “I like to think of our son in Heaven, walking and running at last. What an enormous victory it must be for someone like him, to have been a lifelong prisoner in a body wracked with discomfort and pain and then to find release in the horizon-less vistas of eternity. I miss him. Terribly, sometimes. But Johnny is free, free at last…” And now, so is Johnny’s father.
Memorial gifts may be made to Haggai International; 4725 Peachtree Corners Circle, Suite 200; Peachtree Corners, GA 30092.
Scott Huskins Funeral & Cremation Services, Canton, Ga., is in charge of the arrangements.