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Obituary – Dick Saunders (1930-2018)

April 2018 | by Paul Barnes

Dick & Betty Saunders
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Dick Saunders, international evangelist, Bible teacher and pastor, died on 19 January 2018, aged 87.

Richard (Dick) Stephen Saunders was born in Hailsham, East Sussex, on 16 July 1930, the son of a Strict Baptist lay pastor, Alfred Saunders. He grew up surrounded by the prayers and godly example of his parents, and trusted Christ as his own Saviour at the age of 18. Soon after his conversion, he married Betty (née Thomas).

After the bitter disappointment of the loss of their second child, Dick made a fresh surrender of his life to Christ.

Later, they joined an Open Brethren gospel hall in Hailsham, where Dick became involved with open-air teams. Billy Graham’s Harringay Crusade of 1954 was pivotal in preparing him for a lifetime of preaching the gospel; ‘the Lord lit a fire of evangelism in my bones’, Dick later recalled.

Dick embarked on full-time evangelism in 1956, first in the south of France, then for three years with the Open-Air Mission. In May 1960, Dick and Betty joined the Counties Evangelist work, in which he began as the evangelist for Hampshire with a tent that seated 150 people.

He was appointed the national evangelist for Counties in 1967, and spoke at many ‘crusades’, tent meetings and national rallies. In October 1965, Dick’s first Way to Life radio programme was broadcast by Trans World Radio from Monte Carlo.

The Way to Life Ministry grew rapidly as thousands of letters poured in from around the world. Dick estimated he had produced approximately 24,000 radio programmes in his lifetime.

By the mid-1980s, as the demand for tent missions declined, Dick began using his tent for Bible conventions. This led to a growing Bible teaching ministry, which became the hallmark of his later years. By the early 1980s, Dick embraced the doctrine of election, and this led him to the Reformed, Calvinistic theological position of his parents.

In his ‘retirement’ years, Dick served faithfully as an elder and pastor at Gordon Road Evangelical Church, Hailsham, while maintaining the international radio ministry with repeat broadcasts. Dick leaves behind his wife, Betty, their children Paul and Jane and their families.

Paul Barnes