In Memoriam: TV Evangelist Dr. Jack Van Impe was my Mentor

Ron Sandison and Jack Van Impe

“Talent attracts mentors,” Temple Grandin

By Ron Sandison

My autistic special interests have developed over the years. My first special interest was squirrels and other furry creatures (age 3-5); then art and prairie dogs (age 5-15); followed by track and cross country (age 15-19); and in my junior year of high school TV evangelists and the Bible.

During my junior year of high school I memorized over 2,000 Scriptures.

When I shared my personal testimony of God’s grace and preached at church events, people kept telling me, “You have the Scriptures memorized just like Dr. Jack Van Impe.”

On a Sunday night in 1994, I was flipping quickly through the stations and discovered on channel 62, Dr. Jack Van Impe teaching on eschatology and Christ’s return. I was amazed at his extraordinary knowledge of the Bible and that he quoted the Scriptures from memory with authority.

At the conclusion of his program his announcer Chuck Ohman stated, “Next week for the first time in our ministry’s 50-year history we will have an open house. Guests are welcome to meet Dr. Jack and Rexella Van Impe.”

I was shocked to learn his office and studio were located in the city I lived, Rochester Hills, Michigan.

A week later, I went to the ministry open house and met Dr. Jack Van Impe and Rexella. I shared my testimony with Dr. Van Impe and told him how I memorized thousands of verses.

Before I met Dr. Jack Van Impe, I had memorized Scriptures by books of the Bible. I didn’t have the verses on index cards; only highlighted in my Bible. Dr. Jack Van Impe taught me to memorize by subject and put the Scripture verses on 3×5″ cards.

After our conversation, Dr. Jack Van Impe said, “When you’re in college, contact our ministry, and you can be our first summer intern.”

The summer of my senior year at Oral Roberts University, in 1999, I served as the first intern for Dr. Jack Van Impe’s ministry. I finally had a chance to work for my mentor.

Through this internship I learned the skills required for operating an international ministry and was able to develop my ministry skills. Dr. Jack Van Impe shared with me his struggles in ministry as a traveling evangelist and the miracle provision he experienced from God to establish an international ministry.

My internship for Dr. Jack Van Impe’s ministry was one of the defining moments of my life.

Through this internship, I developed self-confidence and also learned the important skills of working with others in the ministry. Dr. Jack Van Impe also taught me the importance of faith and integrity in ministry.

On May, 11, 2005, I met with Dr. Jack Van Impe at his office. After our meeting, he encouraged me, “If you desire to be effective in ministry you need a wife like, Rexella, who always believes in you and shares your passion for Christ.” My wife Kristen, like Rexella, is a woman of faith and always believes in me and God’s purpose for my life.

On February 1st, 2020, I attended Dr. Jack Van Impe’s funeral. After my parents, he was the most influential person in my life. Dr. Van Impe inspired me to memorize like him over 10,000 Scriptures. By watching his preaching videos and TV show I learned to be an effective communicator and use humor in my presentations. I currently speak at over 70 events a year on autism including 20 plus educational conferences.

Below is a tribute video of the legacy of Dr. Jack Van Impe.

Four lessons I learned from Dr. Jack Van Impe:

1. The importance of leaving behind a legacy. Dr. Jack Van Impe spoke live to over 10 million people, traveled to 50 countries, and served in the ministry for over 70 years. Thousands of people attended his funeral whose lives were touched by his life and ministry.

2. The importance of raising up the next generation. Oral Roberts said, “Success without a successor is failure.” Dr. Jack Van Impe took time from his busy schedule to mentor and equip me for ministry. The seeds he planted in my life continue to bear fruits by the families whose lives are impacted by my speaking and writing.

3. The importance of remaining faithful to the call on our lives. In calligraphy on the top of Dr. Jack Van Impe’s casket was 2 Timothy 4:7-8, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.”

On May 11th, 2005, I met with Dr. Jack Van Impe to discuss him raising me up to carry on his international ministry. I believed in my heart I would be a TV evangelist and preached on eschatology and the Second Coming. God had a different plan for my life to be a minster for families who have children with autism. I have remained faithful to this call.

4. The importance of integrity. Sadly, after all the church scandals, the words television evangelist and integrity seem to contradict each other. Dr. Jack Van Impe and Rexella lived their lives above reproach. The media never had anything bad to report concerning their character. I desire my life to reflect this same impeccable character.

I encourage young adults with autism to seek mentors in their field of interests. These mentors can teach the skills necessary for gainful employment and independence.

Article on Dr. Jack Van Impe in The New York Times.

Ron Sandison

Ron Sandison works full time in the medical field and is a professor of theology at Destiny School of Ministry. He is an advisory board member of Autism Society Faith Initiative of Autism Society of America. Sandison has a Master of Divinity from Oral Roberts University and is the author of A Parent’s Guide to Autism: Practical Advice. Biblical Wisdom published by Charisma House and Thought, Choice, Action. He has memorized over 10,000 Scriptures including 22 complete books of the New Testament and over 5,000 quotes.

He frequently guest speaks at colleges, conferences, autism centers, and churches. Ron and his wife, Kristen, reside in Rochester Hills, MI, with a baby daughter, Makayla Marie born on March 20, 2016. You can contact Ron at his website www.spectruminclusion.com or email him at sandison456@hotmail.com.

4 Comments

  • This was so refreshing! And timely! God has allowed you to use your mind for one of the most important things in the world, hiding His Word in your heart. I am so inspired and will share this with some of my Christian friends in the neuro-diverse community in which I serve as a job coach. I call our Christian group People with Possibilities. This shows the possibilities that go over and beyond what we even think to reach for! Thank you for sharing.

  • WOW!

    Van Impe died only three weeks back. [1 February 2020 – writing this on the 22nd].

    And highlighting the Scriptures does help.

    To think he was local to you, Ron. Sometimes a mentor really is only a door away.

    [and Grandin would say that too!]

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