You Need to Know About Rod Farthing

10430_102388223110550_123731_nI have heard a lot of sermons in my life, but there’s only one man I call my preacher.

I was 11 years old when Rod Farthing moved his family–his wife Jan and 5 kids, at the time–to my hometown of Salem, Missouri. The Farthing Family’s entrance into my life was a game-changer.

I remember the pool table in their living room, the cookies and the Kool-aid. The Thursday night Bible studies led by Jan. Rod coming back from his volunteer gig as a DJ at the southern Gospel station in town.

I can recall suddenly wanting to be a radio disc jockey.

I remember listening to E.V. Hill preach his own wife’s funeral via cassette tape while riding in the car to Central Christian College of the Bible. Rod was driving. I remember listening to old preachers tell stories around the campfire in the Kiamichi mountains, late at night. Rod was across the fire. I remember preaching at preacher-boy contests all through my teenage years. Rod was the most encouraging listener in the audience. I remember a quiz Jan gave us one night at youth group to see how much we knew about the Bible. I remember doing much better on that quiz after our bible basics series was over than I did when it started. I remember Rod still knew way more than me.

I remember the old sermon illustration about John Griffith the railroad bridge operator, as told by Rod in a Sunday morning sermon, and understanding the Gospel in a whole new way. I remember a blue shirt, black shorts, a backstage prayer, and Rod lowering me down in the water. I remember rushing to get dried off and rushing back just in time to see my dad being lifted out of the water. It was March 6th, 1994. I remember getting a “spiritual birthday” card, e-mail, or text every year since on the same date. I remember seeing my mother come up out of the water a few years later. Rod was lifting her out of the water. I remember his then very young son Ryan baptizing a bunch of puppies at the Farthing house, because he wanted to be like his dad.

I wanted to be like his dad, too.

Rod Farthing has never been on staff at a mega-church, but he has preached the Gospel faithfully to hundreds of thousands of people for forty-plus years. He’s never written a best-selling book, but he has etched truth into countless lives, as if on stone, over the course of his ministry. He never obtained his masters degree, but I am sincere when I say he is one of the two or three smartest people I’ve ever met.

I could go on and on, but allow me to finish by saying this: I would not be writing this, I would not be in ministry, and I may very well not be walking with Jesus if it weren’t for Rod Farthing. As adults we’re good friends and, though we don’t agree on everything, he is a  hero of mine. Because once upon a time I was a little kid in Salem, Missouri. Then the Farthing family moved to town, and my world changed forever.

2 comments

  1. Pardon me while I dry off the computer screen. The oral version at SLCC was a life highlight I’ll never forget. To have those words spoken (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RQLFI8J9d4Y) at my alma mater, with most of my six kids present and my oldest recording it, was an experience beyond description. Now to see those words in this blog brings a combination of gratitude and love for God’s guidance and blessing that defies description. Thankfulness because He brought the Farthing and Benton families together; love because God did something special in our lives when Christ made us brothers and partners in the greatest work in the world. Thank you, God, for my “Timothy named Titus” — and what you have done, are doing, and will do with him and his love for YOU!

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