This is an accurate transcript of the tape of the seventh and final part of the oral history interview of John Von Casper "Jack" Wyrtzen (CN 446, T7) in the Archives of the Billy Graham Center. No spoken words have been omitted, except for any names or non-English phrases which could not be understood by the transcribers. Foreign terms which are not commonly understood appear in italics. In very few cases words were too unclear to be distinguished. If the transcriber was not completely sure of having gotten what the speaker said, "[?]" was inserted after the word or phrase in question. If the speech was inaudible or indistinguishable, "[unclear]" was inserted. Grunts and verbal hesitations such as "ah" or "um" were usually omitted. The transcribers have not attempted to phonetically replicate English dialects but have instead entered the standard English word the speaker was expressing. Readers should remember that this is a transcript of spoken English, which follows a different rhythm and rule than written English.
Some portions of the interview that involving living persons have been removed from this transcript and from any copies made of the tape of this interview. The removals have been indicated in the text. This restriction will expire on December 31, 2030.
... Three dots indicate an interruption or break in the train of thought within the sentence on the part of the speaker.
.... Four dots indicate what the transcriber believes to be the end of an incomplete sentence.
( ) Words in parentheses are asides made by the speaker.
[ ] Words in brackets are comments by the transcriber.
This transcript was made by Robert Shuster was completed in November 2002.
Collection 446, T7. Interview of John Von Casper "Jack" Wyrtzen by Robert Shuster, October 5, 1991.
SHUSTER: ...which took place at his home on Schroon Lake, October 5, 1991. Part IV. You were talking about how Norman Vincent Peale and others were involved in Graham's '57 [New York City] crusade and how they had done some things at the [1964-65] World's Fair...
SHUSTER: ...which you hadn't liked.
WYRTZEN: Right. And you know, when I found that the Protestant Council, with all the opposition that they had given us [pauses], I just felt as the thing went on it was being turned over more and more and more to the liberal Protestant Council and that the Evangelical crowd was being pushed to the background. I don't know whose fault that was. But when it ended, Billy knew I was very upset about it. I went to Florida on a vacation. I remember he called me down there one day and we talked a long while on the phone. He was coming back to New York for rallies in the several stadiums one night. And there was a lot of money left over and it was being given to the Protestant Council and I didn't like that. I suggested he spend it like water and put full page ads in all the papers in New York, advertise the.... And not take any more offerings. But again, that was what was out of his hands and they took offerings. And when it ended, they got all the decision cards [filled out with names and addresses of people who came forward to accept Christ], they got all the money that was left over.
SHUSTER: The decision cards are the cards people fill out when they come forward...
SHUSTER: ...that say....
WYRTZEN: And I felt.... Then I saw some Roman Catholics that I wondered about. Now, of course, it's right out in the open. But you'll have the Roman Catholic decision cards going right back to them. And you know I think some of the opposition we have had all over the world, especially in South America from Catholics that would have killed us if they could have and the way they have been so against the Gospel.... And this just bothered me. And I told Billy. You know.... Again, I am not talking behind his back. He knows...he knows exactly how I feel about it. And then I was invited to the Berlin Congress of Evangelism [World Congress on Evangelism]....
SHUSTER: Which was in 1966.
WYRTZEN: Yeah. And I was going to go and then I read that Oral Roberts was going, so I checked and I said, "Is he going to listen or speak?" And they said, "He's going to speak." Well, up until then, I didn't know of any Evangelicals that recognized Oral Roberts. He was just a way out guy, as he is today. Well, that bothered me so I decided if Oral Roberts wanted to be there, I didn't want any part in that. Well, that was bad enough, but then when he [Oral Roberts] opened his university right after that and Billy went down and dedicated it, that bothered me no end. And again, I think I made this known to Billy. And then when he started working with the...with the Pope and going to see him and ecumenical evangelism. And he comes right out and says he's in favor of that and I did not see ecumenical evangelism. And then when it came on abortion, he said, "Well, I leave that up to the scientists," and he didn't want to take a stand. And these things bothered me and I'm...I'm sure Billy knows it bothered me. And then I love the guy, prayed for him and rejoice that Christ is preached and am thrilled by what happened in New York and I'm sure we'll meet a lot of people in Heaven.... And as far as unconverted people, when they would ask me, I'd defend Billy Graham. I was on a TV talk show in Chicago one day and the guy said, "Well, I am glad you are not one of these money-raking evangelists like Billy Graham." I said, "Hey, wait a minute, wait a minute, wait a minute!" In fact...I forget who it was. Ted Dienert or somebody on Billy's staff, who said, "Boy, you'd think you were on Billy's staff, the way you're defending him." And I rejoice the way Billy has handled finances and lived a clean life. Even as People magazine mentioned what a clean life he leads, which is great. And that's to his credit. And as a person he's tops. But here he's in Hungary [possibly referring to Graham's 1989 visit, when he led an evangelistic rally in Budapest on July 29] (and we're in high schools and colleges all over the land) and there 125 people out right after Billy [?] came, which was great, but then he had some Roman Catholic cardinal on for quite a while before he spoke.
WYRTZEN: That just seems to me...it brings a lot of confusion.
SHUSTER: Now had you received criticism after...for participating in the '57 crusade?
WYRTZEN: For not going with him?
SHUSTER: I mean.... No. I mean for participating in the '57 crusade. With some of your...
WYRTZEN: Oh, yeah.
SHUSTER: ...supporters criticize you?
WYRTZEN: Uh-huh, yup, yeah. I think of our vice president who resigned from Word of Life because I went with it, James E. Bennett. But after it was over, I must say I had to go to him and apologize and say, "Boy, you were right. And the more I saw behind the scenes.... In fact, Brandt Reed told me that to get around the Protestant Council (I don't know if this was the first or second crusade) he actually went in and stole the decision cards of the teenagers and did the follow-up work with his clubs. And he and I had real words over it. I said, "Brandt, look, a lot of the things you taught me I am trying to put into practice and...." I was really surprised when they asked me to preach a sermon once after...after I told them I just couldn't go with it. Right here in Albany he had the Roman Catholic bishop and.... [during the 1990 Capital District Crusade].
SHUSTER: You mean, Graham had the Roman Catholic bishop...
SHUSTER: ...during his sermon...I mean crusade.
WYRTZEN: I mean, I wonder if Martin Luther would say if he came back today. I mean, certainly the Catholic Church hasn't changed any. And I've seen some of the things that go under cover, which is terrible. And again, in all fairness to Graham, he does it to reach people. I don't doubt his sincerity, his motives. And he's preaching the straight Gospel and I got to rejoice in that. Often people I witness to on planes say, "You believe like Billy Graham?" "Yup." [Shuster laughs] And it's a great opportunity.
SHUSTER: Let me ask you, too...you have mentioned a couple of times about Pentecostalism, speaking in tongues, charismatic movement. What is your disagreement with Pentecostalism?
WYRTZEN: Well, when they get into "slain in the Spirit," there isn't one verse of Scripture that talks about that. They use verses like, "Paul was slain in the Spirit on the road to Damascus." Well, Paul was unconverted. [Act 9: 3-4] Nobody else ever had what happened to him happen. They talk about when the Lord talked to the soldiers and they were slain and down. [John 18:6] They were all unconverted. It didn't have anything to do with the Spirit slaying. And so this is unscriptural. I think the whole... The first year I was saved, if a man was preaching on tongues, I would go hear him. Baptism of the Spirit, I would go hear him. Spirit-filled life, I would go hear him, slain in the Spirit.... Any of these. Healings. I want to...you know, the first couple of years. And then, just from my study of the Word, I came to the conclusion from Ephesians 5 and Colossians 3, that you are only filled with the Spirit as you are filled with the Word of God. "The words that I speak unto you, they are Spirited, they are truth." [Revelations 21:5?] And Colossians 5 said, "Be filled with the Spirit. Be not drunk with wine nor with success but be filled with the Spirit," and then tells you the result. Colossians 3 says, Let the Word of God dwell in you richly," and the same results as you get from Ephesians 5, being filled . So how are you filled? Things equally...these things equal each other [?]. You are only filled with the Spirit if you let the Word of God dwell in you. I think they are unscriptural. I have written a little kind of...some book on that.
SHUSTER: Would you feel, then, that Pentecostals are Christians with some mistaken beliefs...
SHUSTER: ...or that they are not even Christians?
WYRTZEN: Oh, I think...I think...I think the majority of them are Christians. In fact a lot of the old Pentecostals that used to come into our crusades, they will have nothing to do with the charismatic movement [Portion of interview omitted]
SHUSTER: It is often said that Pentecostals are the fastest growing...
SHUSTER: ...division in the church today. Is that something that...how would you view that?
WYRTZEN: Yeah, I think that's true, but on the...on the other hand, I think of a friend of mine who is working way up in the jungles of Guatemala. Eight days by horseback to get up there. He had spent his life translating the New Testament. He led these Indians, about a hundred of them, to the Lord. And he had a fairly well established church. He came home [to the United States] to be on furlough and when he got back, the charismatics had been in there and had said, "Yeah, Newbercoski [name unclear], he preached a good Gospel but he did not give you the full Gospel." When he got back, there were two churches. They split it. And I...and I could see this thing happening all over the world, which bothers me no end. And if they are leading people to the Lord, I rejoice again in that, but.... And I went through that the first couple of years that I was saved and I just...I think out of order as far as the Scriptures are concerned. And when the Lord said, "I give unto you eternal life, you will never perish," and then they don't believe in security. And that...that's interesting. I have been told all my life: "When you preach, don't say 'eternal security.' That's a red flag in front of a bull. Preach on the assurance of salvation." Then my friend Charles Stanley comes out with a book not, Eternal Security [Eternal Security: Can You be Sure] [laughs] and it's a big seller. I laugh at that and its going big. And I think right now John MacArthur (although I didn't agree with his book and he knows on The Gospel According to Jesus on lordship salvation) [The Gospel According to Jesus: What Does Jesus Mean When He Says "Follow Me"] but he's got a new book out now, The Sufficiency of Christ [Our Sufficiency in Christ]. I noticed last night it's number four on the sellers list in America. And he deals with the tongues and the healings. He deals with all the psychology kicks that we are off on today. And he deals with all this [word unclear] business of casting demons out of locks and everything else. Very, very good. Have you read that yet?
SHUSTER: No, I haven't. The title again?
WYRTZEN: The Sufficiency of Christ. And he shows...for instance, interesting. "His name shall be called wonderful Counselor, prince of peace." He says there is no comma after "counselor.' He is the "wonderful counselor." And he brings out the fact that we have the most wonderful counselor in the world. These people are getting into things that are not biblical counseling.
SHUSTER: It is a sign of....?
WYRTZEN: Excellent book. Excellent book. One of the best he's written yet.
SHUSTER: Well, to switch gears a little bit, I would like to talk about preaching. You have preached how many sermons?
SHUSTER: A hundred thousand?
WYRTZEN: I don't know.
SHUSTER: Two hundred thousand. [Pauses] What does it feel like to you to preach? I mean, what does preaching mean to you?
WYRTZEN: Well, I don't ever remember preaching when I wasn't scared stiff, even to this day. And, you know, David said, "Lord, anoint me with fresh oil." [Psalm 92:10, King James Version] I think every time we step into the pulpit we have to have an anointing of the Lord. And it speaks in...,John said we have an unctioning [anointing] from the Holy Spirit. And I marvel how I can sit there in a meeting, just feeling cold and cry out to God to help me and I get up in the pulpit and suddenly everything is alive. So I know it's of God, because sometimes, boy, before a meeting I'm way down and if we didn't have the touch of the Holy Spirit in our preaching.... You know, I think of one Sunday night last summer. Probably half the camp (we get about six hundred a week)...half of them are unconverted. Well, if you have ever been on one of our...a week up here.... On Saturday night we have pep bands and we have..really, we put on skits and everything else. Then we give a Gospel message on Saturday night without an invitation. Sunday morning is our regular church service, but with a strong...explain the Gospel. Sunday night George, Harry [Bollback] or I or Joel, one of us, will pull the net in. I think the one Sunday night I was speaking.... You couldn't sing "Just As I Am" because these kids won't know it. When I got through preaching, I said, "Now, kids, if you really want to get saved, get up out of your seats and come down here." Maybe ten came. And all of a sudden the kids broke out into applause which rarely have I ever seen anything like that happpen. I did one time with a black group. Then another ten, fifteen came and they applaud again. And they kept coming and coming. But each time a group would come forward, the rest of them would applaud. So there was about seventy more here. And everybody broke into a real applause then. So I said to the kids something that had just dawned on me at the time. "You know, there is rejoicing in Heaven over one sinner that repenteth. I imagine right now in Heaven the saints are applauding and saying, 'You kids did the right thing! [heavy emphasis on each word as Wyrtzen claps his hands]" And I said, "I wouldn't be surprised if the Lord was standing there applauding because this was the reason He came. He came to save sinners, like you kids." " Every kind there imaginable. From very well-to-do homes, the best homes in the land, kids that had have had abortions and everything else to prostitutes, the whole way [?]. They didn't call themselves that but they were really. And only the Holy Spirit can do that. And it really...we'll have a hundred and fifty, two hundred get saved there at the camp. We got a whole week to work on them. And...and it just...just thrills me to see this happen. And this thing spreads all over the world. Joel just told that in Argentina they had a hundred Chinese arrive on a tour. The want to come to camp for a week. We didn't have anybody could speak Spanish and Chinese. So they had to hire a guy from the American embassy to come out, who spoke Spanish and Chinese. Joe's up there preaching, giving the invitation, they started coming forward. All of a sudden the interpreter puts the mike down and he gets.... Joe say, "No, pick it up! You can't get saved yet! Finish!" [Both laughs] And most of that hundred came forward and got saved, with a few exceptions. I think I told you that I had thirty Japanese here from very wealthy homes this summer. All Buddhists. Contacted by Yoshito Kato who endorsed our work in Japan. He brought these wealthy kids here, three weeks. All but three of them got saved while they were here. And one of the Buddhist girls wrote back and said, "I'm going to Bible Institute next fall." She's not saved yet.
SHUSTER: She's coming even though she's not a Christian?
WYRTZEN: She will come as a Buddhist and get saved here, I'm sure. I hope before then.
SHUSTER: When you are preaching, how can you tell if you're reaching people? As you are standing in the pulpit, what do you...what do you see that tells you people are
receiving the message?
WYRTZEN: I think people have a lot to do with the message. You go to a place where it's well prayed over, great expectancy. Oftentimes when I arrive at an airport, I know what kind of a meeting I am going to have that night. You know, the preacher will meet you or the chairman who will say, "You know, I guess we hit the wrong night." You know it's not going to go. Other nights, "Wow, I wonder where are we going to put all the people tonight" Great. And then there are other nights you get up there and you think you are really hitting the ball, give an invitation, nothing happens. And other times you are...think you are missing it and you give the invitation, wham, [words unclear]. So we sure have to rely on the Holy Spirit, shouldn't we. And we never had a dream, we never had a vision, we never had any plans. And we never even planned right now what we are doing all over Europe. But what are you going to do when they keep begging you to come and begging you to come, And our guys say, "Hey, maybe we've got five years. We better get in there." So. You cry out to God, "Give us the funds, give us the leaders, we want to do it."
SHUSTER: How do you go...how do you prepare your sermons?
WYRTZEN: Well, I'm preparing all the time. I carry a piece of paper in my pocket and I'm jotting down ideas all the time, every morning in my quiet time, think of things and read the newspapers and magazines, get illustrations out of the news.
SHUSTER: Do you usually write the sermon...
SHUSTER: ...far...? You don't write them at all?
WYRTZEN: No. Just jot down ideas. Some preachers get up and preach without an outline or notes. I can't. Sometimes you don't use them...
SHUSTER: But you know they're there.
WYRTZEN: ...but I like to know they are there. Crutches, I guess, huh?
SHUSTER: You mentioned....
WYRTZEN: And I think it is very important that you preach on the cross and the resurrection in every message. Judgement, the need for repentance.
SHUSTER: You mentioned earlier too about the importance of quiet time. What is your quiet time like.
WYRTZEN: Well, we have the Word of Life quiet time guide that gives you several verses every day. And I study those verses and if I don't understand them, I have several commentaries over there that I use. And you try to get something out of the Word. You ask the Holy Spirit to enlighten and teach you. And then we have our daily prayer list then a....the things we are going to pray about every day. And the things we pray once a week for them. And then people we are dealing with. Right now there are several important people in Albany. We are praying daily for them. And others that are going through hard times, we pray for them. And then I...I read all the time. I can...you know, Paul said to Timothy, "Give attendance to reading, [I Timothy 4:13]" and I think a Christian ought to read at least one good book a week.
SHUSTER: What are some books you've read lately?
WYRTZEN: I mentioned Christ Our Sufficiency. This book I mentioned a while ago, Unfolding Destinies. I read another book last week, Point Man [by Steve Farrar]. I don't know who it is written by, some fellow who's a graduate of Dallas [Theological Seminary], had his doctorate in that. Excellent book. And then I keep reading all kinds of missionary books. Oh, I just read another book, XVI [possibly QB VII by Leon Uris] I think that is what it is. XVI. It's this Polish Jew that escaped out of Poland and came to America....
SHUSTER: I think you are just about at the limit there. [Wyrtzen was walking around the room and had reached the limit of his microphone cord. Tape recorder stopped and turned on again]
WYRTZEN: Another one I am reading here is Not.... The Unveiling. Another one is Not to the Strong. CVI by Owen McQuaid [?]. Boy, that is a powerful book.
SHUSTER: So many of them are the testimonies or stories of other Christians?
WYRTZEN: A lot of them, yeah. Then a lot of them are strong doctrine books. [static from moving microphone] And I have read almost all of Dave Hunt's books. I think he is a prophet for our day. And I have read quite a bit of Jim Dobson, who is a very good friend of mine. Been on the air with him a couple of times.
SHUSTER: Let me ask you a question that came to mind as we were talking over this whole interview. Of course Word of Life first started with, as you were saying, with street meetings and the lunch hour meetings, the rallies at Times Square, Madison Square Garden in the city. Now it seems that much of the work is centered in camps and outside of the city. What do you see as the ways to reach the inner city, particularly the inner city youth today?
WYRTZEN: Well, we're doing a lot of work in the inner city with our Bible clubs. I think one of the great hopes of the inner city are guys like Tom Maharis in Manhattan, who used to be one of the leaders of the hippie movement. For instance, we had a fellow thirty-eight years of age in our Bible school last year. And I said...and he had been a dope addict, dope pusher. And I said, "How did you get saved?" He said, "You led Carl Maharris [?] to the Lord. He led a dope addict in Manhattan to the Lord, who came to Manhattan and led me to the Lord." He said, "The girl I was living with died in my arms of an overdose." And then he got converted, came to our school. And he is now working at a rescue mission. I think of another fellow our guys picked up in...under the boardwalk in Atlantic City [New Jersey], a big black fellow in a lot of trouble, kicked out of high school, too many demerits. Got kicked out of the Marine Corps for so many demerits. And became everything that we should not be. Drunk. And he was pulled from under the boardwalk, took him over to the Atlantic City Rescue Mission, lived there for some time, got converted, came to our Bible Institute, graduated, went to Cederville College, went to Dallas Seminary, Hebrew and Greek for four years. He is now a pastor in Milwaukee, a black church, and I am going to be with him up there in a couple of weeks.
SHUSTER: What's his name?
WYRTZEN: Jim Carrington. Great, great guy. I think of a fellow I found in a kind of dangerous place, incidentally one of our students right now. And he got out. This time last year he was in jail. I mean, he has huge muscles. Weightlifter. And another fellow was in the hospital with cancer, black fellow. He was on coke and in all kinds of messes. Some of our guys led him to the Lord and he walked into the Coatesville Rescue Mission and he said, "Here's a white guy putting out his hand with a big smile," and said, "There must be a racket on. A white guy smiles at a black man like me. No good me." He got converted. And he's getting out of the hospital. I went in to see him yesterday and pray with him. I think this week back in school and he'll be in a wheelchair the rest of his life. I said, "Good. You come to Bible school and I'll be your dope pusher. I'll push you around." And he laughed. I got our former lieutenant governor going to see him tonight. So we're doing a lot of work in the..... You know, we've got a team right now in Chicago and another [sic] Boston, Philadelphia and New York, working in the inner city.
SHUSTER: So Word of Life is still active in cities.
WYRTZEN: Very, very much so, We have thirty of our students right now riding the subways in New York City. Making friends with people, eyeball to eyeball, dealing with them. Some rough, tough characters.
SHUSTER: Is that a priority in your ministry To maintain...?
WYRTZEN: Everything's a priority. [laughs] I mean the street workers, the jail workers. We are in eleven prisons up here in the Adirondacks [geographic region in northern New York state]. And we took our basketball team there and we play ball with them. And a lot of good ball players in jail. That's all they have to do. And they beat us often. One night we were playing and our center [one of the players on a basketball team] went over and talked to some of the inmates, because they were cheering us against their own. "Why are you cheering us? Why don't you cheer your own?" "Ah, they're a bunch of crooks!" And so the jail work is very important to us and we work whenever we can with Chuck Colson. Great work in jails. And we work the rescue missions. A lot of our grads are rescue missions. And its interesting to see at the Bible Institute. These kids move out all over the world with us. We have about five hundred a week. Last year we had four Ph.Ds in our school. We had seminary grads and doctors and.... One lady came at seventy-six. And she was a widow, rather well-to-do. She said, "You know, at seventy-six I expect to be in Heaven. I better get to know the people of the Bible." And then to our school's youth ministries, our second year of school, when she was seventy-seven and now she's a missionary in Argentina. She's an English teacher. So we don't care how old they are and who they are. We do a four year Bible major, twelve month's time. They can get a year to a year-and-a-half credit in most of the Christian schools and anywhere from two thousand to six thousand a year...I mean scholarship in Christian schools. One school right now said if we'll send them fifty students next year, they'll give them a twelve thousand dollar scholarship. And they will become leaders. I think one of the advantages...our kids do not have jobs on the side. Those five hundred come here and they are studying here. And their weekends are...instead of busing people in, we bus them all out. And then I think another thing is that a lot of our leaders now are in the second generation and spreading all over the world. My own kids, my oldest daughter Marianne and her husband Dave started the first Bible institute we ever had. Two of their...three of their children are in the field, working with them in Brazil. So we're seeing second and third generation already. And Harry's kids are all in the Lord's work, my kids are, George's, Joe's are not old enough yet. And to see them.... You know, for instance, my son David, he has about eight hundred. Sunday morning he will preach for an hour or more. And he too spoke twenty-five hours to our Bible institute up here. He's written several books now that have become big sellers. And last week he gave the lectures at Dallas Theological Seminary. And my son Don has his songs all over the world. And it is just great to see all of our kids loving the Lord and walking with him.
SHUSTER: As you know, there have been many Christian leaders with children who have not loved the Lord and who have not walked with Him. In fact, you could say it is not uncommon for that to happen. Why do you think that this is so much the opposite case with Word of Life people.
WYRTZEN: If you know, I would like to know. [Shuster laughs] I don't know. I know some preachers who will have five kids and three of them are on fire for God and two of them living for the devil. I don't know. It says, "Bring up a child in the way he should go and when he is older he will not depart from it." [Proverbs 22:6] That's a general principle. That is not something where you can say, "Well, God, You've got to do that for my kids." It isn't so.. I think we have a great advantage that we're here all summer with our kids as they were growing up. Harry Hendricks says eighty-three percent...he went around the world for a year and he met with hundreds and hundreds of missionaries. Eighty-three percent of those that he met were either saved or dedicated their lives at a Christian camp. And our kids have come up right through Christian camping so I think that becomes very, very important. We had two diplomats that were...one was here this summer, the other's a diplomat in South Africa, both saved on the island. And then we have hippies and dope addicts and kids out of jail and that's really.... And often we're asked what brings the kids here. Well, sports. We work with a lot of the NFL [National Football league] and Tom Landry professional American football coach] has been here. Dr. J [professional basketball player], Bobby Jones [professional golfer] and....
SHUSTER: Has Mike Singletary [professional football player] ever...?
SHUSTER: Mike Singletary ever been here?
SHUSTER: Chicago Bears [professional football team] . I've heard....
WYRTZEN: No. I've heard of him. I'll tell you who from Chicago. Ron DeVries [?], used to be be in Chicago. Sven Nader [?], used to be with the LA Lakers. He's been here. And I think the...I think good music. We don't go into rock but...Christian rock or any other kind of rock. And yet we have.... There is a big difference between lively music and rock music. And so we try to hit that.
SHUSTER: What do you feel...what is particularly bad about rock music?
WYRTZEN: To me, rock music is rock music. They put Christian words to it. I don't know. I mean, do we need all that? You know, during the hippie rebellion, a lot of Christian leaders were trying to dress like the hippies and act like them. You know, I think you just have to be yourself and you don't have to get into that. I think when you start using their jargon, I think the kids are laughing at us. I don't have any trouble talking to kids and I've been at it over fifty years and the older I get, the more kids I'm...I'm preaching to.
SHUSTER: A little earlier you had said you wanted to talk some about how you had got into the work in Hungary. Would you like to do that now? How did the work develop?
WYRTZEN: Yeah. Our quartet, all Canadian fellows went twenty-seven-seven years ago. They traveled with me for two years before that. I think we traveled about a hundred and twenty five thousand miles in the car together, so we got to know one another. And God spoke to all four of them about going to Germany.
SHUSTER: This would be about '64?
WYRTZEN: Yeah. Twenty-seven years ago. And immediately they clicked with the German youth. They played brass, strings. They sang beautifully. They recorded with the London Philharmonic. They've recorded with the Berlin Symphony. And we have some beautiful...Bobby Batthor [?] is a great musician. He does the piano and the arranging and so on. Well, these guys started taking trips to all of these countries. They'd sneak in as tourists. And they made..they made...and they've been doing this for fifteen, twenty years. When it was real dangerous to do it, they were doing it. In fact, they never even told us much about it. They did not want to tell anyone about it. They were afraid I would get on the radio and talk about it [Shuster laughs] and could have caused a lot of trouble. In fact, some of the letters we wrote, even after I was in Hungary, we look at now and we should not have written those letters, because we didn't know they were all being censored. We didn't know our phone calls were being censored and tapped but they were. But then Hungary seemed to be more open and more western. And they...they accepted us. And we went into their churches and we met pastors who were persecuted terribly. And then from there, Romania opened up and then one country after another. And then Chuck Cosvin, [?] who for the first twelve years of his life thought everybody in the world spoke Russian and now is a master of English as well as German. And he went back into Russia because his father was kicked out of the town for drunkenness, looked up his father's town, found forty relatives and they all wondered what had happened to his father. And he told him how his father had been converted out in Canada, how he had been converted. And he led four of them to the Lord. He's back there right now and trying to lead the rest of them to the Lord. And they had such tremendous meetings. One morning they were in a church that seated two thousand. All the deacons were standing at the door [saying] "Are you a Christian?" "Yes." "Well, please stand outside." Only unbelievers allowed in. And they had about two thousand unbelievers inside and two or three thousand Christians listening outside.
SHUSTER: You know, a little earlier you had mentioned how the people at the Pocket Testament League had taught you how to use the Gospel of John to lead somebody to Christ. That might be a good way to conclude this tape, describing how you use the Gospel of John to lead someone to Christ.
WYRTZEN: Okay. We'd often hand the Gospel of John to a person and say, "This little book changed my life. I'd like you to read it." And you'd give it to him. "By the way, could I show you something in this Gospel?" And they have an outline in the back where they show Romans 3:23. "I'd like you to read this verse." And it says, "All have sinned and come short of the glory of God." And you talk about that. "Do you realize you are a sinner?" Now the next verse says, John 6:37, "Him that cometh to me I'll in nowise cast out." And you explain who Christ is and why you should come to him. "Would you like to do that? Do you realize you are a sinner? What did Jesus do for you?" Then we talk about...it has I John 1:7, "The blood of Jesus Christ His son cleanseth from all sin." And then, "Okay. Do you believe Jesus Christ arose from the grave? That makes him different from Buddha, Confucius, Mohamad. You can't get there through any saint or pope or rabbi or minister. You got to come Christ, who died and rose again. And here He said, 'I am the way, the truth and the light. No man cometh unto the Father but by me.'" And then, "Would you like to make that decision?" Sometimes you speak for hours, sometimes a few minutes and they get it. It all depends on the preparation. Okay?
SHUSTER: You mean all depends on the Spirit.
SHUSTER: Okay. Well, is there anything else you wanted to...?
WYRTZEN: Yeah. Anybody listening that would want to.... We have the Word of Life Experience, [Collection 46, V1] which is a video. We would be glad to loan it anybody
that would like to look at it.
SHUSTER: How should they contact you if they want to...?
WYRTZEN: Just write us at Word of Life, Schroon Lake, New York 12870. And please don't believe what anybody tells you that we have a lot of horns. [Shuster laughs] We are here to help people and we see a lot of people converted.
SHUSTER: Yeah, amen.
WYRTZEN: And many of the issues we have talked about today we would never, never mention any of these things from the pulpit.
SHUSTER: Oh sure, it's...as I say, what...what we are trying to do in these interviews is more personal, just your own experience....
SHUSTER: ...your ministry.
WYRTZEN: We're talking about family matters. It is quite different when you are talking to the general public in the pulpit. And I object strongly when people get in the pulpit and start calling names. I don't like that at all. We would never let anybody do that here, even if they were our worst enemies. "Pray for them. Cut it out."
SHUSTER: Well, we've only scratched the surface of your life and ministry. We have not talked at all very much about some of your preaching tours around the world, about the development of the Inst...the Word of Life Institute and many other aspects of Word of Life's work. But....
WYRTZEN: I might say in closing that I was married five and a half years ago. In a very miraculous way the Lord led us together.
WYRTZEN: She went to a missionary conference seeking the will of the Lord. Her husband had died of cancer. And I met her and I told her the will of the Lord.
SHUSTER: [laughs] Well, it worked out perfectly then.
WYRTZEN: In five and a half years we have traveled all over China, behind the Iron Curtain [in European Communist countries], Africa, every country of South America I think, Central America, all over the United States and Canada. We are still at it. Night after night after night. And she loves it. And she is a great soulwinner, She is down now visiting her grandchildren in Oklahoma. She says she got to Chicago airport yesterday and she was reading her Bible and a lady came up to her and said, "That's a good book you are reading?" And Joan said, "Yes it is. Do you know the Author?" The lady said, "What author?" "I mean the Author of this book." "Well, what book are you reading?" "The Bible." "Well, what do you mean, do I know the author?" So she had a great opportunity for witnessing. And she's at it all the time. We have no greater joy than to know that our children walk in truth. All her kids saved, mine are saved and so we rejoice.
SHUSTER: "Children shall rise up and call you blessed." [Proverbs 31:8]
WYRTZEN: Got a letter from Sam Moore of [Thomas] Nelson Publishers the other day. He said, "You know, some guys are lucky once when they get married. You have been lucky twice." [laughs] Amen.
SHUSTER: Amen. And again, thank you for your willingness to be interviewed today.WYRTZEN: Good.
SHUSTER: I appreciate it.
END OF TAPE