". . . and having done all . . . stand firm." Eph. 6:13


Henry Blackaby: Experiencing God Face to Face

February 24, 2024

During my lifetime, I have been privileged to get to know several prominent spiritual leaders who have now gone on to be with the Lord. Dr. Henry Blackaby, who died most recently, was one of the most humble and yet powerful men of God among them. 

A native of British Columbia, he served local churches in various capacities both in Canada and the United States, met four American presidents, spoke in the White House, the United Nations, and the Pentagon, discipled CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, met with world leaders, and wrote dozens of books, including “Experiencing God: Knowing and Doing the Will of God” that has sold more than 8 million copies and has been translated into 75 languages. God has used the church based small-group study to make a major impact not only on multiplied millions around the world, but also among my own ministry team members, who often refer to his teaching.

The biblical principles in Experiencing God were first lived out by Henry in the local church. While he was serving as pastor in southern California, he was approached about returning to his native Canada to become pastor of Faith Baptist Church, a small church that had dwindled to only 10 members in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Over the next 12 years, God revived the church from near death to become a thriving congregation that launched 38 mission churches as well as giving birth to the Canadian Southern Baptist Seminary and College. From his God-centered leadership there, Henry went on to serve as the Director of Prayer and Spiritual Awakening at the North American Mission Board, calling Southern Baptists to return to God. His heart beat for revival and prophetic preaching captured my attention.

In fact, Henry is one of the spiritual fathers of one of FRC’s most impactful ministries, Watchmen on the Wall. When he spoke at the National Day of Prayer in 2004, the same year I launched our outreach to pastors, Henry proclaimed:

“When God sets a watchman on the walls of a nation, what’s on the heart of God? God never sets watchmen on the walls of a nation unless it’s in a critical moment in its history…When God sets watchmen on the walls of a nation, God knows there’s impending danger. The enemy is coming. And the watchman was designed to watch carefully night and day and whatever they saw they were to announce so that God’s people would know how to respond… Do you not already hear the warnings of God? Do you not see that the enemy is coming in like a flood? And God is trying to raise up a standard against it. And you and I are that standard. What if God were saying, and I believe He is, I have set watchmen on your walls, O America?”

That prophetic statement that God was placing “watchmen on the walls of America” perfectly captured what God had put in my heart for the pastors. Thus, Watchmen on the Wall not only became the name of our outreach to pastors, but it was also descriptive of their mission, based on Isaiah 62:6 and other Scriptures.

In fact, for several years, I invited Henry to speak to the pastors at our annual pastors conference in D.C., and he never failed to bring a powerful word from the Lord. Finally in 2010, we recognized Henry’s contributions by giving him the Watchmen Award in recognition of his contributions as a spiritual leader.

As president of Family Research Council, one of the most impressive characteristics about Henry was his spiritual leadership in his own family. Married to Marilyn for 62 years before death parted them, they raised five children to love the Lord, each one serving in full-time ministry. What an amazing legacy for a servant of God.

This weekend, family and friends will gather in Georgia to celebrate Henry Blackaby–a man whose life was a shining example of what God can do through one person, humbly yielded to Him. Now this man of God, who wrote and spoke so much about experiencing God, is experiencing God face to face.

Tony Perkins is president of Family Research Council and executive editor of The Washington Stand.