(Click on Link for audio of Dr. Lakin on Heaven)
Dr. B. R. Lakin, may well have been America’s Prince of Preachers, or something very close to that. At one time he was one of, if not the most famous name in Gospel preaching. He preached to 10,000 people each week before that was even thought of as a mega church event. He was welcome in the largest churches in America and the next week be just at home in the smallest. Dr. Lakin loved to preach. I met him when he was already an older evangelist. He was in Mufreesboro, Tennessee for two or three weeks of revival at Rev. Woodrow Medlock’s church. I went out to hear him for the first time and immediately admired the man and his preaching. I was back the next night and the next. The next week after leaving Murfreesboro (I think it was the next) he was in Texas for another revival. I had to be there for business and went to hear him preach again. We talked after the service and he asked what I would be doing the next day. He invited me to his motel and we had the best time talking. He did most of the talking. He loved to talk about the old days. From that time we were friends.
Later, after I had left my position at The Sword, my wife and I were in Ohio. She always thought the world of Dr. John Rawlings so we made it a point to be at his church for Sunday. We were there early and we took a place down close to the front (not too close) and in the center section. During the service Dr. John looked out and called my name and welcomed me to their service. Dr. Lakin was the guest speaker. When he stood to preach he, too, addressed me by name and very graciously told that crowd that I was his good friend. He said other kind things, but I shall always remember his kindness in saying anything at all. It was good to be recognized by two great men of God–John Rawlings and B. R. Lakin. Neither knew that I was to be there that day and how they recognized me in the crowd I will never know. But they did and I am pleased to salute them now.
Dr. Jerry Falwell loved Dr. Lakin and often had him preach in his great church. Dr. Lakin was loved by Falwell’s TV audience. It was ironic that Lakin started his national ministry on radio and was loved by millions. His closing ministry was on television and was, again, loved by millions. He was a remarkable man. He loved to tell his audience he was just a simple, mule riding, circuit-riding preacher from the Big Hurricane Creek in West Virginia. He still had his old saddle bags from that era. He traded his mule for a jet and travelled to all the big cities in America and many places around the world. He was still that old circuit riding preacher till the end. God bless his memory.
Dr. Lakin had a tremendous gift of humor. His sermons were peppered with his wit and humor. One that I remember: “I would rather be eaten by a shark than nibbled to death by minnows.”
Another was: “If they are kicking you in the seat, that means you still have the lead.”
Another: “A preacher said, Brother Lakin, So and so is lying about me, I’m gonna make him prove it. I told him, No, don’t do that. That will ruin you.”
Here is a bio found on YouTube:
Bascom Ray Lakin (June 5,1901- March 15, 1984) was a Baptist pastor and evangelist.
On June 5, 1901, a baby boy was born to Mr. and Mrs. Richard Lakin in a farmhouse on Big Hurricane Creek in the hill country of Wayne County, West Virginia. Mrs. Lakin had prayed for a “preacher man” and had dedicated this baby to the Lord even before he was born. Lakin attended a one-room schoolhouse in West Virginia through the 4th grade.
Lakin was converted in a revival meeting at age 18 and baptized in Big Hurricane Creek. The minister who baptized him was the nephew of Devil Anse Hatfield, of the Hatfield-McCoy feud families. One week later, he preached his first sermon and soon after became a circuit preacher, riding a mule to country churches near the forks of the Big Sandy River.
Dr. Lakin was ordained on May 28, 1921 at the Big Hurricane Baptist Church in Big Hurricane Creek, West Virginia. The moderator was Rev. J.C. Simpkins, the same preacher who baptized him and was also related to Devil Anse Hatfield. Later B.R. Lakin pastored his first church; the Evangel Baptist Church in Greenbrier Creek, West Virginia. Realizing his need for further training and education for the ministry, Lakin left the hills of his home for the big city of Chicago to attend Bible College.
B.R. Lakin attended and graduated from Moody Bible Institute. Because of his dedication to his calling and longevity in ministry, Bob Jones University and (the now defunct) Kletzing College bestowed honorary doctorates.
B.R. Lakin was married to the former Violet Crabtree on August 30, 1922. They only had one son, William. William passed away on March 27, 1955 as the result of a combination of car accident precipitated by a cronic health issue. William Lakin was survived by his wife and son. B.R. Lakins grandson, Ronald, would eventually become his assistant throughout the rest of his ministry.
In 1939, he was called to assist E. Howard Cadle (1884-1942) at the Cadle Tabernacle in Indianapolis, Indiana, a church that seated ten thousand with an additional fourteen hundred seats for the choir. Cadle conducted a daily radio program, Nations Family Prayer Period,” on the 50,000-watt clear channel WLW in Cincinnati, and the program became the most listened to religious broadcast during the 1930s. Upon Cadle’s death in 1942, Lakin became senior pastor and continued the broadcast. B.R. Lakin was one of the first mega-church pastors before the term was ever coined some fifty years later. In those thirteen years at the Cadle Tabernacle, Lakin became a household word across America.
In 1952, he entered full-time evangelism after resigning from the Cadle Tabernacle and moving to Florida. His ministry carried him around the world, resulting in an estimated 100,000 conversions, and legion the number entering the ministry. B.R. Lakin travelled extensively as an Evangelist averaging 50,000 miles annually and preaching to 4,000 people weekly. He witnessed more than 100,000 conversions to Christ.
In later years of his ministry, B.R. Lakin moved his church membership to the Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Virginia. While there, Lakin became a close mentor and confidant to Dr. Jerry Falwell. Here, B.R. Lakin finished his ministry. On March 15, 1984, B. R. Lakin was called to Heaven by the Lord Jesus through death after deteriorating health due to battling for years with adult on-set diabetes. He used to say of his diabetes, I asked the Lord to make me sweet, and he over did it. After more than 65 years of preaching, Dr. Lakin “hung his sword on the shimmering walls of the city of God. His funeral was conducted at the Thomas Road Baptist Church, Lynchburg, Virginia, and attended by more than 5,000 people.
B.R. Lakin was used of God to be the preacher’s friend, the church’s helper, the common man’s leader, and for sixty-five years, God’s mighty messenger. He was one of the most sought-after gospel preachers in America. The department of religion at Liberty University is named in honor of Lakin, who is interred on the campus. B.R. Lakin used to coach young preachers by saying of trouble-makers and critics, Love them, pray for them, and outlive them.