He’s been in active ministry for 68 years, longer than most of his peers have been alive.
He rivals Billy Graham in his longevity and, in his knowledge of Scripture, he may be in a league of his own.
But he almost died in a hospital bed back in April, only to return six months later on Oct. 3 to share his back-from-the-brink story.
He is Jack Van Impe, the man many refer to by his nickname, “The Walking Bible,” for the way he quotes dozens of scriptures at dizzying speed over the course of a half-hour broadcast.
The 84-year-old televangelist returned to his show Oct. 3 with a message about the dangers of an emerging combination of Islam and Christianity, called “Chrislam” and how it’s being promoted in a nationwide billboard campaign by a wealthy Muslim group.
But before he got into that message, he shared about his brush with death.
“I was on my deathbed. Doctors only gave me a 20 percent chance of living, 80 percent chance of dying,” Van Impe said.
On April 10, a week after open-heart surgery, the doctors called his wife, Rexella, who is the co-host of his long-running show, “Jack Van Impe Presents.” They told her she needed to come to the hospital, soon. Her husband was passing in and out of consciousness and it might be time for a final goodbye.
“After 60 to 70 days, because I’d lost all comprehension, I didn’t know who I was, where I was, I was going to resign from the ministry because I’d even lost my speech,” Van Impe explained to his audience. “I have been through the hardest 115 days of my life, ladies and gentlemen, I’ve suffered so much.”
He said he had a great team of doctors, including one who was a Muslim.
They did the surgery on April 4 and on April 10 they called Rexella saying they thought he would pass away.
“They called Rexella and said, he’s in bad shape. They said ‘It’s 5:30 in the morning, do you want to see your hubby again, get here right away Rexella.’ I just thank God for my wife. Doctor Levin said this woman came in every day for 42 days and sat there for five hours and held your hand. You wouldn’t be alive young man… if it hadn’t been for her love.’ Rexella I love you so much.”
He broke down in tears on the set. Then he did what he has always done. He started quoting Scripture.
It was vintage Jack Van Impe, reciting Bible verses in rapid-fire sequence followed by citations of chapter and verse. His keen memory, like his speech, had returned. He was pumping his fists like a street preacher and stretching out the pronunciation of key words as if they were lyrics on a song sheet.
Watch clip of Jack Van Impe describing his ordeal of nearly dying from heart ailment:
“Then you sat there another 35 days when I lost my speech,” he told his wife. “And you sat there and it just warmed my heart. And the Bible says in Ephesians 5:25, ‘husbands love your wife even as Christ loved the Church and gave himself for her.’ And I love you that much. I love you that much.
“Dr. Levin said, ‘we know that God had a part in this but, oh, Rexella kept you alive.'”
Rexella Van Impe said her husband, whom she met at a Billy Graham crusade where she served as organist in the early 1950s, received around 10,000 get-well cards during his absence from the show, which she continued to produce weekly with help from guest host Carl Baugh.
Those fans and well-wishers have been building since Van Impe was ordained in 1947.
Over the years Van Impe, the son of a hard-drinking nightclub musician turned Christian missionary, has never shied from, as he says, “speaking the truth.”
His commitment to speaking out against what he sees as the lies and deceptions of false teachers and false religions have sometimes landed him in conflicts.
In June of 2011, Trinity Broadcasting Network refused to air an episode of “Jack Van Impe Presents” that criticized Robert Schuller and Rick Warren for promoting “Chrislam,” a movement that seeks to downplay the doctrinal differences between Christianity and Islam. Van Impe responded by pulling his show from TBN.
Exposing Islam’s new billboard campaign
The truth about Islam is a topic he continues to hammer today from his studio in Rochester Hills, Michigan. It is not a religion of peace, he says, despite what American Muslims or their apologists in Washington say.
In his second broadcast back from the extended sick leave, Van Impe blew the lid off the massive deception he says lies behind a billboard campaign by the Islamic Circle of North America, a Muslim Brotherhood front group that wants to erect 100 billboards across the U.S. promoting Islam.
Some of the billboards have already started appearing in Texas, Georgia, Iowa, California and other states.
“Find Jesus in the Quran,” blasts one of the signs near Dallas.
“Muhammad: A Mercy to Mankind,” flashes another.
“Same family, same message: Abraham, Moses, Jesus, Mohamed, peace be upon them all,” screams yet another.
And, till another billboard says, “Muhammad Believed In: Peace, Social Justice, Women’s Rights.”
One of the many billboards being placed around the U.S. by the Islamic Circle of North America, a group supported and funded by the Muslim Brotherhood.
At the bottom of all the billboard messages is inscribed “Why Islam?” followed by a toll-free number and a website, WhyIslam.org, where people can get their questions about Islam answered by Muslims.
‘396 lies about our Jesus’
The idea is to promote the teaching that there is a spiritual kinship between Muslims, Jews and Christians, Van Impe said.
This idea is quickly laid to rest by the Quran, however, which Van Impe cited, in Sura 9:1-6 as saying “Unbelievers, (Jews and Christians) I do not worship what you worship, nor do you worship what I worship. You have your own religion and I have mine.”
Van Impe, looking thinner and a bit pale, lacked none of his usual energy on set in the Oct. 10 show. He said he has documented 396 lies about Jesus in the Quran.
“I have plenty to say because since they put out these billboards I’ve been searching my New Testament, I’ve been searching the Quran, and they have 396 lies and errors about our Jesus and their Jesus. They are not the same. And that’s why Moses, who they’re claiming is one of their followers, said in the first commandment ‘thou shall have no other gods before me,’ and that includes Jesus, who is our God, Romans 9, verse 5.”
And what are some of these errors embedded in Islamic teaching?
“Number one, that the Jesus of the Quran and the one of the Christian Bible are identical. A lie. A fabrication. A deceit. Why? In Sura, chapters 4,5,6,9, 17, 19, 23, 88, eight times, if you believe Christ is the Son of God you will burn in hell forever. Now is that what your Bible, (whether) Protestant, Christian, Catholic, teaches? Absolutely not,” Van Impe said.
‘You are an antichrist!”
“Ours says that in 1 John 2:22 if you deny Christ is the Son of God then you are an antichrist! And that’s you guys that twist and lie to the public,” he continued. “There has never been such deception as these billboards you’re going to set up. By the way, Jesus, 51 times, is called the Son of God. No doubt about it (in the Bible).”
He then recited a litany of Bible chapters and verse describing Jesus Christ as God’s Son, including Jesus’ words that “no man can come to the Father except by me.” And “there is no name under heaven by which you must be saved.”
“I’ve found 396 times where your billboards are wrong. It’s deceit. And, I’ve never known of a religious group that has so minimized and disgraced the true Jesus.”
Defending Ben Carson
Jack and Rexella then defended Dr. Ben Carson for telling the truth about Islam and it’s incompatibility with any elected official sworn to uphold the U.S. Constitution.
“Ladies and gentlemen when the Muslims get into office they don’t care what the laws of the land are, whether it’s Germany, Canada, England, the USA, when they can work it in they switch it over to Shariah law,” he said. “And what is Shariah law? Four main points that must be carried out when they rule. Number one, you kill your daughters if they have premarital sex, number two you kill all homosexuals, number three you kill all apostates, your own, if they say one word against the Quran, Mohamed or Allah. Number four, you kill all infidels, that’s anyone of any other religion.”
History shows trail of death for Christians under Islam
Van Impe said the greatest number of Christians ever slaughtered in the history of the world since the year 600 when Islam came into existence has happened in this last century, the 20th century.
“And their method is beheading. And that’s Revelation 20 verse 4, ‘I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus.’ You can’t deny this is going on. And it’s going to continue going on because they have to get rid of all infidels and that’s anyone in any other religion who will not accept Allah.”
Rapture ‘before Armageddon’
Van Impe has also been a big proponent of the pre-Tribulation rapture teaching, often punctuating his teachings with references to this escape of Christians into the heavenly realm before the wrath of God is poured out on the Earth. On Oct. 10, he closed his show saying, “Get ready. Prepare to meet your God, Amos 4, verse 12. He’s coming soon, the rapture, we’re going to be called home. Before it takes place. Before Armageddon.”
As for his ability to memorize Scripture, Van Impe has said that it didn’t happen overnight.
On his website, Jack Van Impe Ministries, he credits the memorization techniques of one Rev. David Allen, whose classes he sat under when he was young.
“The authority given his ministry by using Bible verses was easy to see. It is not surprising that one of his students decided to build on the same foundation.”
He attributes the lasting effect of his many crusades to the saturation of his sermons with Bible verses.
“Sinners are confronted with God’s Word, rather than tear-jerking stories,” Van Impe says on his website. “The result is conviction and genuine conversions. Christians are moved to revival because they are forced to see themselves as God sees them. And that is what preaching is all about.”
Van Impe declined to be interviewed for this story saying he’s said all he wanted to say about his health crisis in the last two shows aired Oct. 3 and Oct. 10.