John Richard Rice
1895 – 1980
John R. Rice was born in Cooke County, Texas, on December 11, 1895, the son of William H. And Sally Elizabeth LaPrade Rice. Educated at Decatur Baptist College and Baylor University, he did graduate work at the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and the University of Chicago.
On September 27, 1921, he was married to Lloys McClure Cooke. Six daughters were born of that union, all of whom, with their husbands, labored in full-time Christian service.
Although Dr. Rice served as pastor of Baptist churches in Dallas and Shamrock, Texas (plus starting about a dozen others from his successful independent crusades), his primary work was as an evangelist. He had been a friend and peer of Billy and Ma Sunday, Bob Jones, Sr., W. B. Riley, Homer Rodeheaver, H. A. Ironside, Robert G. Lee, Harry Rimmer, and other leaders of that era. He held huge city-wide crusades in Chicago, Cleveland, Buffalo, Seattle and numerous other key metropolitan centers.
Called by his biographer “The 20th Century’s Mightiest Pen,” Dr. Rice authored more than 200 books and booklets circulating in excess of 60 million copies before his death, about a dozen of which were translated into at least 35 foreign languages. His sermon booklet, “What Must I Do Be Saved?” had been distributed in over 32 million copies in English alone, 81 million in Japanese, and nearly 2 million in Spanish.
In 1934 he launched the Sword Of The Lord which, by the time of his death, had become the largest independent religious weekly in the world with subscribers in every state of the union and more than 100 foreign countries. Thousands of preachers read it regularly, and it undoubtedly had the greatest impact upon the fundamentalist movement of any publication in the 20th century.