Amos, the herdsman of Tekoa, did not look like a prophet, dress like a prophet, or act like a prophet. He even confessed that he was not a prophet, nor did his genesis sport a prophetic father. But Amaziah, the sovereign, limped away from his confrontation with Amos knowing that he had met an authentic prophet (Amos 7:10-17).
When I first met Junior Hill in New Orleans Seminary, I would not have selected this country boy as a richly anointed spokesman for the eternal God of the ages. Genuinely humble, soft-spoken, possessing little self-interest or ambition, a friend to all, and exhibiting a self-deprecating country sense of humor that endeared him to everyone, first impressions were that an average kid from the Alabama countryside had somehow made it to seminary—and the seminary would be better with him there.
Then I heard him preach. I laughed; I listened while glued to my seat; I wept like an infant at feeding time! I observed the man of God whom I prayed that I could be. I saw a man on whom the Spirit of the living God descended. My heart was opened like the pages of an old book, and it seemed to me that God read every word. The experience was so vivid that I remember glancing around to see if anyone around me could read my wicked heart! Yet through the gentle rebuke of the prophet, the warmth of the Savior's acceptance coursed through my wounded soul! And as often as I heard Junior Hill (which was every time I possibly could) the same experience repeated itself!
Dare we ask why? Amid the well-tutored eloquence of contemporary preachers, why do they garner our admiration while leaving our hearts largely unmotivated to reach out to God? What made Evangelist Junior Hill, the country prophet, such a powerful voice for Christ and His Church?
Though Junior was a sinner and had to contend regularly with the satanic thoughts implanted in every heart by the Evil One, somewhere along the line he made the decision to reject those thoughts and impulses in favor of the sanctified compassion of the Lord Jesus. Having chosen the highway of holiness, Junior never forgot for a moment how vulnerable we are to spiritual pride and thirst for human recognition. As few I have ever known, Junior conquered these beasts of spiritual destruction and sailed the sea of humility all the way to heaven.
Second, he knew no fear. Oh, I know better. The bravest of men admit to fear, and an anointed prophet is no different. But while he frequently faced fears of failure, the furor of enemies of God's program, etcetera, he sought a look at the face of God in all these instances. Armed with the fortitude born of a meeting with his Creator and Redeemer yet bathed in the gentle kindness of the Holy Spirit, he stood strong while evil quiesced.
Professional preachers, pastors, and professors often paraded their speculative and doubt-inspiring intellectual certainties before their classes and congregations. At least the implication was left that anyone who could not see the limitations of “Bible Only” preaching and confidence was little more than a country imbecile. Junior recognized that he was “country,” but he chose to prefer that over becoming a sophisticated, intellectual, empty suit! His preaching was fresh and rich with confidence in the truthfulness of every word of Scripture. And while the famous preachers sought supper at five-star hotels, I found Junior sitting on the front pew of the church with an 11-year-old boy he had just led to Christ!
Junior Hill crashed the world party when he was born July 5, 1936. On the morning of January 3, 2024, he exited a stage door with directions to Jesus just on the other side of the curtain. I will miss his frequent encouraging telephone calls and especially his messages from the throne of grace. There probably has not been one like him since Amos left his sheep for the prophet’s stump. And we will see very few more. But you can do yourself and everyone else a favor: Get a copy of They Call Him Junior, the autobiography of Junior Hill. Read it and laugh and weep. Second, begin praying that God will raise up a retinue of Hill-like preachers of purity and truth to salvage our languishing churches. And finally, join me as I pour out my heart in thanksgiving for the life and ministry of Junior Hill!
Paige Patterson, President
Sandy Creek Foundation