“The Man of Reckless Faith”
God’s going to open the eyes of the blind and cause the lame to walk, and the deaf to hear. He’s going to do it right here in this church tomorrow night.1
Jack Coe was an independent and determined force for Christ. He had an unreserved faith in the Word of God that he combined with a frank audacity which made him both controversial and effective as a healing evangelist. During the height of the Voice of Healing revivals, from 1945-1956, Coe ministered throughout the nation to multitudes of lost, sick, and dying. His crusades were unprecedented as his tent revivals grew to become the largest in history. He boasted of a tent larger than even Oral Roberts or the Ringling Brothers big top, and still turned away thousands every night.
But perhaps most memorable was his compassion for orphans. He built a home for children called the Herald of Healing Children’s Home, as well as a Christian day school at the Dallas Revival Center he established. Among his other notable accomplishments were the construction of a live-in faith home for the sick where healing was ministered through teaching as well as prayer; the Revival Center Church where people could attend services every night of the week; and the Herald of Healing publication that reached 300,000 subscribers by the time of his death in 1957 at only the age of 38.
A Long Road to Zion
Jack’s youth was not a happy time. His father was a gambler and alcoholic leaving his mother to single-handedly raise their seven children. When Jack was nine years old it proved too much for her and she left Jack and his older brother at an orphanage. To make things worse, Jack’s brother was hit by a car and killed when he tried to run away. When Jack was seventeen, feeling aimless and alone, he left the orphanage and took up a life of drinking and carousing. His health soon began to suffer and his doctor told him that his next drink could kill him.
Desperate for help, Jack moved to California where his mother lived hoping she might provide the accountability he needed to stay sober. As soon as he arrived, his sister invited him to a dance from where he was soon brought home in a drunken stupor. The next evening he grew very weak and thought he was dying. An ambulance brought him to a hospital where he was examined, and while there, he cried out to God for just one more chance. Suddenly, his symptoms disappeared and he went home fully recovered.
Getting Right with God
Jack took his mother with him to Fort Worth, Texas, where he was offered a good job as a manager for the Singer Sewing Machine Agency. He soon forgot about his promises to God and began to drink again. One night when he couldn’t sleep after a night of drinking, he noticed his heart was bothering him. It would stop and start causing Jack to panic. Again, he cried out to God and heard Him say, “This is your last chance, I’ve called you several times, and I’m calling you now for the last time.”2 At this, Jack fell to his knees and pleaded with the Lord to give him until the following Sunday to set things straight.
When the next Sunday came, Jack arbitrarily chose a church out of the phonebook. His finger landed on a Nazarene church so that’s where he decided to go. When the pastor made the altar call, Jack ran up to the front without hesitation. After he was prayed for, he knew his heart had changed and shouted, “Hot dog, I’ve got it!” Over the next six months, his hunger grew for God. His mother was so curious about what had caused such a change in her son, that she went to church to check it out for herself and got powerfully saved.
A year and a half later, Jack came across a “Holy Roller” meeting that intrigued him greatly. When he attended a service out of curiosity, the pastor pointed him out in the crowd and asked him if he had ever been baptized in the Holy Ghost and spoken in other tongues. Jack said he hadn’t nor did he want to. The preacher challenged him to go home and read everything the Bible says about it and so Jack did. Undeniably, the baptism and tongues were spoken of all throughout the book of Acts. Initially, Jack was reluctant to return to the meetings, but so eager was he to learn more, he couldn’t stay away. Ultimately, he yielded, and so powerful was his infilling that he spoke in tongues for three days, having to write English words on paper in order to communicate.
They Thought He Was Crazy
Not long after that, Jack attended an Assemblies of God Bible college for about a year. Then in 1941, after Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, he joined the army. Still on fire for God, he prayed and witnessed to his fellow privates and soon found himself in the psychiatric ward. He was moved to seven different companies over the course of fifteen months, each time spending a season in the psyche ward.
After his army service, Jack longed to preach. He approached a local Church of God pastor and asked for an opportunity. The pastor invited him to do altar work but Jack was insulted and turned to walk away. The Lord prompted him to return and tell the pastor he would be willing to do whatever the pastor needed. The pastor promptly put him to work as the janitor. To this he turned and walked out again, and after a sleepless night, once again returned to the church to be their new janitor.
His faithfulness soon paid off as he was promoted to Sunday school teacher, then song leader, youth minister, and finally associate pastor. At last, when the pastor was called to another church, Jack was asked to fill in as the interim pastor. When they hired a new pastor, Jack was ready to start his own church. During this time he met Juanita Scott who would soon become Mrs. Jack Coe. They set up house and slowly but surely began to prosper. They were blessed with gifts of furnishings, a car, and were even able to put a thousand dollars in savings.
Called to Divine Healing
Jack began to pray for an understanding of divine healing. He studied and sought the Lord until one night he had a dream. His sister was lying in a hospital dying, given up for lost, when suddenly a bright light entered the room and she was instantly healed. She jumped up shouting and praising God. The next day, Jack found out that his dream was true. His sister had suffered double pneumonia and was given up to die. He went immediately to go visit her in the hospital and heard of the series of events that had transpired exactly matching his dream. This experience was a turning point for him.
However, in 1944, when Juanita was expecting their first child, Jack Coe became gravely ill himself. He suffered from tropical malaria and lost ninety-five pounds. He was now twenty-six years old and nothing but skin and bones. His fevers were high and recurring, and his spleen and liver had become painfully swollen. Jack was in agony and prayed that God would let him die. After crying out to God and repenting of all that God showed him, he told the Lord he was ready to go. It was then God said he didn’t have to, his heart was now right, and he was miraculously healed. He would never suffer another attack of malaria.
The next night Coe went out to preach on the street. Three people were saved. Later that same year, the Assemblies of God ordained him into the ministry. In 1945, Coe went to Longview, Texas, where he continually studied and prayed on the subject of divine healing. He asked God for a special manifestation of His power, and then decided to announce a healing meeting.
Restoring Sight to the Blind
Coe boldly proclaimed that at his healing meeting the blind would see, the deaf would hear, and the lame would walk. When the next evening arrived, the church was full. People lined up for prayer after he finished preaching and then came the blind woman. Coe hesitated, asking the Lord what he was supposed to do. The Lord said, “Son, whatever made you think that you could open the eyes of the blind? Do what you are supposed to do, and I will do what I am supposed to do.”3
Coe repented and then prayed and anointed the blind woman with oil. Her sight slowly came as vague impressions, so Jack prayed for her again, and then she suddenly cried out, “I can see! I can see!”4 From that point on, Jack Coe’s healing ministry was launched.
His ministry was soon in such high demand that he would often stay until dawn praying for the sick. He traveled throughout the area staying in people’s homes wherever he ministered, but those seeking prayer would come to the home where he was staying at all hours of the day and night and ask for prayer so that Jack couldn’t get any rest. Finally, the Lord told him he needed to get proper rest and so he reworked his ministry strategy.
The Revival Years
In 1946, Coe joined forces with Lindsey in co-editing The Voice of Healing. It was in 1947 that the Coes sold their beautiful home and invested in a tent, a truck, and a trailer in order to travel the road full-time, but still have a place where he could get the rest he needed. By 1948, Jack felt the Lord calling him to Redding, California. It was here that a lame woman about to have her leg amputated was miraculously healed. Her testimony stirred the entire city when Coe aired it on the radio. Even the station manager was saved. That night a wealthy woman arrived in a chauffeur-driven Cadillac and was also saved.
Until this time, the offerings had been small and creditors threatened to take the Coe’s truck. So Jack stood up and told the people he needed $740 badly. When he did, a woman walked up to him and wrote a check for the entire amount. Two nights later he announced he would sure like an organ or some kind of music for the tent, and the same lady bought him an organ. The revival team would stay in Redding for seven weeks, receiving money enough to pay for the next crusade.
In 1950, Coe started publishing the Herald of Healing and by 1951 it had reached a circulation of 35,000. As the self-proclaimed fastest growing magazine, by 1956 the circulation had reached 250,000. During this same time Coe was determined to have the largest tent in America. In 1951, when he visited an Oral Roberts meeting, he measured Oral’s tent and ordered one slightly larger. He boasted in The Voice of Healing that both tents were larger than the Ringling Brother’s big top.
In 1952, Coe went on the radio. His broadcasts eventually grew to one hundred different stations per week. It was around this time that creative miracles—the miraculous recreation of missing body parts—began taking place in his meetings. Sadly, during the same year, the Assemblies of God felt Coe was too radical and independent, and expelled him from their circles. This caused Coe to envision establishing his own independent churches he would call Revival Centers to be duplicated throughout the country. In 1953, he launched the Dallas Revival Center, and by 1954 he had built the Dallas Revival Center Church.
Homes for the Hurting
During this time the Coes were also dedicated to building a home for orphans outside of Dallas. They built the Herald of Healing Children’s Home complete with four dormitories and a self-sustaining farm. Jack’s goal was to provide a home for two hundred children. He succeeded in playing the role of father to hundreds of children whenever he wasn’t traveling—caring, clothing, and instructing each one as if they were his own. He made sure their clothes, manners, and schooling was as fine as any child raised anywhere.
Nearby he built Jack Coe’s Faith Home where those seeking healing could learn about faith as well as receive prayer. And not far from these homes was the Dallas Revival Center complete with a ministry training center and Christian school. When the Dallas Revival Center Church was built in 1954, bus service was provided for those who didn’t have transportation, and free ambulance service was offered for those in the hospital who wished to attend the healing services.
An Early End
Jack Coe continued to hold healing crusades around the country, facing all sorts of persecution, including being arrested. By 1956, however, he was physically worn out. Doctors reported that he had the body of a ninety-five year old man even though he was only thirty-eight. It is believed that the Lord had told Coe about his early death a year earlier causing him to work that much more relentlessly to spread the Gospel.
Coe was diagnosed with Polio late in 1956 and was admitted to the hospital where he was unconscious most of the time. On a few occasions, he was able to speak to his wife to make his desires known, and relay that the Lord had said he was ready to take Jack home. Early in 1957, Jack went home to be with the Lord.