The story of Missionary J.F. Rowlands is one of the most extraordinary in World Missions history.
A remarkable man, J.F. as a young minister felt God’s call to reach the Indian people in South Africa. Unlike those who might have given up in frustration, his first six years were spent preaching without a single convert. Undaunted, he rented the biggest auditorium in South Durban for a soul-winning crusade. Fifteen minutes before service, there was only a meager handful … Christian friends who had driven 50 miles to support their friend in his efforts. J.F. called them to their knees in prayer.
Fifteen minutes later, the large auditorium was packed with more than 2,000 people, most of whom were Hindus who had never heard the Gospel! He preached that night just as he had preached for the previous six years, but this time God honored the prayers and his hard work with a harvest of 173 souls saved.
Impressive churches today dot the South African landscape where thousands of Indians have come to know Jesus through Rowlands’ ministries. Progressive Indian pastors continue to do Kingdom work and young people are trained at the Bethesda Bible College. Of the college he founded, J.F. once said: “We don’t issue diplomas. We issue Pentecostal-blasting certificates!”
At age 71, Dr. Rowlands died suddenly of a heart attack. The entire nation was stunned. His death was front page news and the lead story on radio and television. The lines of mourners stretched for more than two miles, and thousands were outside the packed church for the funeral. Some 20,000 filed by his casket and the service was broadcast on closed circuit television and heard over giant loudspeakers. It was an outpouring of love for a man who was one of the greatest pioneer missionary heroes of the Church of God.