Henry Thomas Blackaby

April 15, 1935 – February 10, 2024

Obituary

On the morning of February 10, 2024, Henry Thomas Blackaby came to the end of his life on earth and began experiencing God face to face. Henry was born April 15, 1935, in William’s Lake, British Columbia, Canada. His parents, Gerald Richard Saunders and Jennie Marguarite, moved their family to Prince Rupert, British Columbia, where Henry spent his childhood. Henry’s father, a bank manager for the Bank of Montreal, started a Baptist church. As a teenager, Henry moved with his family to Vancouver. He graduated with a Batchelor’s degree in History and English from the University of British Columbia. He then earned a B.Th. and a Th.M. from Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary. He would later be granted five honorary doctorates from various schools. While in seminary, he met Marilynn Sue Wells, and they were wed on June 3, 1960. They would have five children: Gerald Richard, Thomas Wayne, Melvin Duane, Norman Charles, and Carrie Elizabeth.

Henry served as senior pastor of Baptist churches in San Pablo and Downey, California. Both churches prospered under his leadership. In April 1970, Henry moved his family to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada, to be the pastor of Faith Baptist Church. For the next twelve years, his church and its missions started 38 churches and mission posts, as well as a Bible college. All five of Henry’s children would be called into Christian ministry. All four boys have served as pastors and Carrie was a missionary to Germany. In 1982, Henry became the Director of Missions of the Capilano Baptist Association, representing the lower mainland of British Columbia and Vancouver Island. While he held that post, the association experienced dramatic growth.

In 1988, Henry was called to serve as the director of prayer and spiritual awakening at the Home Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. He and Marilynn moved to Atlanta, Georgia. In 1990, Henry wrote his landmark book, Experiencing God: Knowing and Doing the Will of God. It has sold more than eight million copies in English and been translated into 80 other languages. God has used it to transform many lives and churches and to inspire the launching of numerous ministries and churches. Today, the book is considered a Christian classic. In the ensuing years, Henry wrote more than 50 additional books. He traveled with Marilynn to speak in 115 countries. He met four American presidents and ministered in the White House, Pentagon, and United Nations. He ministered to corporate CEOs, government officials, and countless church leaders. He was eventually asked to be a special assistant to the presidents of the North American Mission Board, the International Mission Board, and Lifeway Christian Resources of the SBC.

Upon his retirement, Henry established Blackaby Ministries International and continued his speaking and writing ministry. He became famous for his teaching, “Look to see where God is at work and join Him.” Henry was a powerful preacher, once speaking to 40,000 pastors at a Promise Keepers event in Atlanta. He was also known for being an attentive listener and counselor. He and Marilynn especially loved ministering to international missionaries. Though he moved to the United States in 1988, Henry always loved Canada and sought to encourage its churches whenever he could.

Henry’s parents, Gerald and Jenny, and his two brothers, Alf and Will, predeceased him, as did his wife, Marilynn. Henry leaves behind a strong spiritual legacy. His five children continue to serve his Lord in ministry. He also had 14 grandchildren and 11 great grandchildren. He leaves behind countless people whose lives were forever changed by his life and teaching.

Henry’s funeral will be held at First Baptist Church, Jonesboro, Georgia, where he was a member for 28 years. Service time is 3:00pm on February 25. He will be interred at the Camp Memorial Cemetery in Fayetteville, Georgia. In lieu of flowers, people can donate either to Blackaby Ministries International, which carries on Henry’s work, or to the Blackaby Chair of Spiritual Leadership at the Canadian Baptist Theological Seminary in Cochrane, Alberta, Canada. Donors can give Online at: https://gift.idonate.com/georgia-baptist-foundation/blackaby or mail donations to P.O. Box 1035, Jonesboro, GA. 30237. The funeral service will be live-streamed at: https://vimeo.com/event/4086348/6b6c7ab42b

Family visitation is 5:00-7:00pm on Feb. 24 at the Ford-Stewart Funeral Home (2047 Highway 138 S.E. Jonesboro, GA). Viewing is 1:30-3:00pm on Feb. 25 at First Baptist Jonesboro (147 Church Street, Jonesboro, GA).

  1. February 13

    I quoted Henry in my message on Sunday. I probably quote him more than any other human resource. One of parishioners messaged me later to tell me he had gone home Saturday. I paused and gave thanks for his life. I am so grateful for his insights into the great truth of God and His Word to us. I begin each day with the ‘Day-By-Day’ Devotional. I am glad he is experiencing God in heaven today. Well done, good and faithful servant.

  2. February 13

    I’m thankful for the life of Henry Blackaby. I first read his book Experiencing God in 2001 during my earliest years as a medical missionary in Kenya. His teaching helped me to understand better some of the otherwise discouraging experiences I had then and over the next 20 years. His words helped me to grow in my spiritual walk with God. Even today I still read a portion of his teachings as part of my morning devotions and Bible reading. I’m also thankful for each of Henry’s sons who have perpetuated his legacy. Perhaps I can thank him in Heaven for his help and encouragement.

  3. I got acquainted with Dr Henry when he moved to be a pastor in Saskatchewan in the seventies. I was honored to have introduced him to speak at several ministerial events in Western Canada. Later he was a Director of Missions and was responsible for igniting church planting for the SBC in Canada. . Our friendship and partnership grew over the years despite his and Marilynn moved back to the United States to serve as Director of Prayer and Spiritual Awakening for the Home Missions Board of SBC in 1988. Because we both travelled extensively it was not surprising to run into each other at various airports. I also was privileged to go with him to minister in two of his many Southern African ministry tours. His legacy includes the Servant Shepherd he was, the ministry focused family he raised, the books he wrote, the many he mentored and tens of messages he preached. We can praise God for anointing him to bless the Church and expand God’s Kingdom.

  4. February 23

    I want to thank God for Pastor Henry Blackaby’s life, family and ministry. We are presently using the Experiencing God book as our discipleship material. Experiencing God is not a book you read just once but over and over again as you grow in faith and love for the Lord. My husband and I have been in the ministry for 35 years. The Lord’s presence has been our strength and comfort throughout. What a faithful Shepherd have we! Pastor Blackaby has been a tremendous example to us in his deep love for God and His people. What a legacy to know and love God. Outside of this there is nothing. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to share our love for your father. Thank you for allowing us to grieve with you. Your names are on our tongues as we lift you to the Father asking for his comfort to flow into your hearts and lives at this time. God bless you family we look forward to the day when we all get to heaven! What a day of rejoicing that will be!

  5. February 23

    The main of God has left the land of the dying for the home of the living. His life has impacted mine. I consider him one of my spiritual mentor. We will one day meet in the city where we will never grow old. Our condolences the Blackaby family may His amazing grace sustain each of you in this hour. Respectfully Pastor Basil Watson

  6. February 23

    Dear Richard and family, my spiritual journey would never be where it is had your father not answered the phone in his department after working hours at the Home Mission Board years ago as I was seeking someone to preach a Prayer Revival at the church I pastored in Cartersville, Georgia. His invitation to me in that phone call to travel to Ridgecrest for a Spiritual Awakening Conference, (and I believe an introduction of the study Experiencing God), was a game changing moment in my life. I am saddened by the announcement of his homegoing. I’m sure I speak for multitudes of others. I pray that the echo of the heart of Henry Blackaby will be heard for years to come.
    BTW … As a student at SWBTS and a part-time youth minister at the Town East Baptist Church in Mesquite, Texas, my pastor, Dr. John Beard was invited to attend (perhaps even preach) at a meeting in Cutbank, Montana. On his return, I asked how the meeting went and who was there as speakers. It was the first time I heard the name Henry Blackaby and who could imagine years later I would speak for 20 minutes to him personally at the Home Mission Board and begin an incredible journey of experiencing God through his teaching / preaching ministry. Prayers and thanks to you all for the gift of your father.

  7. February 25

    Thank you for a wonderful service honoring Henry, and giving glory to God as he would have wanted. Randy and I both loved and respected Henry very much. We each met him before we met each other, and he mentored both of us.
    My prayers are with all of you and the family.
    Mary Ann Gallaway

  8. February 25

    TRIBUTE TO HENRY BLACKABY

    Henry Blackaby and I were privileged to minister together in a handful of places through the years. That began with our relationship dating all the way back to 1971 in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada where we were in the Canadian Revival that impacted the city, churches, pastors, and people so profoundly. And from that time on it was my joy to be able to share together in ministry as well as personally with both Henry and his lovely wife Marilyn.

    All connected with the revival and the Canadian Revival Fellowship rejoice to know that Henry now enjoys the presence of His blessed Savior, the One he so powerfully proclaimed wherever he ministered. Heaven is enriched by his entrance, and we here below will never forget the rich truths Brother Henry shared with all of us.

    My twin brother Lou and I will forever cherish our relationship together with the Blackaby family. Our condolences go out to each member as we with them revel in the rich legacy left behind. And may the truth of II Cor. 9:8 be yours at this time, believing God as you put your order in for Him to “make” that special comforting grace needed just now!

    RALPH SUTERA
    The Sutera Twins

  9. February 27

    Sir Henry is my hero. After believing in the Lord for about 8 years I got into a heretical group where my faith was distorted. I was there for one year, but that was enough for it to accompany me for antother 8 years. In 2019 I came across with Experiencing God, the book that healed and completely transformed me. Since then I found my true self, starting understanding God biblically, became a catalyst in the church, developed spirutual discernment. I’m happy to be able to see Sir Henry once I’m in heaven.

  10. March 7

    A friend shared this Bible study with me when I was at a very low point in my life. To this day, God still has me to reference my Experiencing God workbook. What a blessing Experiencing God was and is in my life! Praying for the family and the organization.

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