WASHNGTON – Answers.com, the website that addresses any question readers might have once tackled this one: “Is Jack Van Impe dead?”
“No, he is not dead. He is alive and well,” was the answer.
While there is no date provided for either when the question was asked or answered, the true story of the near-death experiences of the long-time, popular, television evangelist who has spent more than 70 years in Christian ministry is not as straightforward as the answer implied.
Almost everyone with a television channel changer has seen his TV show that aired across America from the 1970s through 2017. It would be nearly impossible to have missed him and his wife, Rexella, on “Jack Van Impe Presents” for any channel surfer. The man known as “The Walking Bible,” for his complete memorization of the entire New Testament and most of the Old, was seemingly everywhere on TV for more than 40 years, especially late at night on independent channels and Christian networks. It was a fixture, a mix of Bible prophecy, news analysis and the good old-fashioned Gospel.
But beginning in 2005, he was hit with what would become a series of life-threatening health problems – cancer, sepsis, heart disease that led to open-heart surgery, a fall leading to a broken hip. He experienced nearly complete memory loss and his ability to speak for months. On May 27, 2017, the Van Impes decided to air their final show after several seemingly miraculous recoveries.
Watch clip of Jack Van Impe describing his ordeal of nearly dying from a heart ailment:
However, they’re back once again – this time with a burgeoning new international radio ministry – a kind of “resurrection” for the 87-year-old who insists God is not finished with him yet. And he’s not even completely finished with TV, still doing special segments on YouTube, an outreach they began in 2014.
“Until the Lord takes me,” he told WND, “I’m going to keep doing what He commanded us to do – take the Gospel to the uttermost parts of the Earth so that we can fulfill the Great Commission and see His return.”
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The radio ministry was initiated because Van Impe missed dealing with current issues and how they related to the Bible.
“We began picking up stations in the United States and Canada and went to shortwave radio to be able to reach the world,” Rexella explained in a newsletter. “This is a tremendous cost-saving issue. To maintain our TV broadcast, we were paying $6 million to $7 million a year for airtime. We are still looking to add more radio stations, with the cost being much less than $1 million per year.” The radio show is currently airing on more than 100 stations in the U.S. and Canada as well as dozens of shortwave stations internationally, in addition to some AM and FM outlets.
“Jesus told us to reach the world, and that’s why I am doing this,” Van Impe said with all the excitement he exhibited in his decades of television broadcasting. “He commanded us to do this and told us when we do, He would return.”
Jack Leo Van Impe was born Feb. 9, 1931, to parents Oscar Alphonse Van Impe and Marie Louise, née Piot who emigrated from Belgium to Troy, Michigan, in 1929. His father played the accordion at nightclubs, drank heavily and denounced religion as hogwash. Young Jack joined his father in drinking at family means, even as a child, in the European tradition. But, one day, when Jack was 12, the elder Van Impe had an epiphany and became a born-again believer. Father and son smashed their bottles of wine and other alcoholic beverages and never drank again.
The younger Jack joined his father as a missionary across Michigan and other states, both playing the accordion. Later he graduated from Detroit Bible Institute and launched his own career as a preacher and evangelist. While working with the Billy Graham crusades, Van Impe met Rexella Mae Shelton, who was an organist with the crusades. They married Aug. 21, 1954, and launched Jack Van Impe Ministries.