Henry Thomas Blackaby

April 15, 1935 – February 10, 2024


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.

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