Dr Lester Sumrall
Founder of LeSEA Global
"I won't be satisfied unless I win a million souls for Jesus everyday!"
evangelists have seen as much of the world as Lester Sumrall witnessed —
and witnessed to. Lester Sumrall was one of the most colourful
preachers of the 20th century. Beginning as a fiery young preacher
during the depression and ending with the foundation of a global
ministry in 1987, aimed at wiping out hunger in Third World countries:
his life story inspires as well as it teaches. Lester Sumrall was a man
who threw himself at the feet of Jesus Christ, possessing a zealousness
and long-term commitment that still amazes even those who
Lester Sumrall (1913-1996) was a world-renowned pastor and evangelist,
entering full-time service for God after experiencing what he recalls as
the most dramatic and significant thing that ever happened to him. At
the age of 17, as he lay on a deathbed suffering from tuberculosis, he
received a vision. Suspended in midair to the right of his bed was a
casket; on his left was a large open Bible. He heard these words:
"Lester Sumrall, which of these will you choose tonight?" He made his
decision - he would preach the Gospel as long as he lived. When Lester
Sumrall awoke the next morning, he was completely healed and served the
Lord for sixty-five years.
Lester Sumrall travelled the world ministering in 110 countries,
including Soviet Siberia, Russia, Tibet, and China. During his life he
penned over 130 books. His evangelistic association (LeSEA - Lester
Sumrall Evangelistic Ministries headquartered in South Bend, Indiana),
is still actively spreading God's Word. LeSEA ministries include such
outreaches as the World Harvest Bible College, a teaching tape ministry,
and numerous publications. Lester Sumrall also founded LeSEA
Broadcasting, which owns and operates 13 Christian television stations, 3
FM radio stations, 5 international shortwave radio station, and 2
Satellite channels covering the entire continents of Africa, Asia &
Europe. LeSEA Broadcasting reaches 90% of the world's population with
the special purpose of bringing those millions of souls to heaven.
Lester Sumrall's goal was to win 1,000,000 souls for the kingdom of God every day.
God draws patterns for lives of men and woman to instruct and direct
them. He creates a special design for each rational being who is
destined to live on this planet. If the individual wisely follows this
divine blueprint, he will build a strong, successful, and happy
character. Take time to analyse the life of a good man, and see that it
was not achieved by accident or good fortune, but was a life in
submission to the will of God.
The Making of a Champion
Lester Frank Sumrall was born to Betty and George Sumrall of New Orleans on February 15, 1913.
"My mother had decided, even before I was born, that I was going to be a
preacher. She had prayed for me fervently while I was in her womb --
back when I couldn't do anything about it, except kick a little! I was
born at home, child number six and completely unplanned."
"My mother was a gentle, kind, and godly woman. I loved her and wanted
to please her, but I didn't want to be like her because that meant I had
to be good. On the other hand, if I followed in my father's footsteps, I
could be my own boss and do whatever I pleased. While the inner battle
raged, I dug in my heels, determined to be like my own daddy."
Courage to Conquer
Fortunately, God had other plans for Lester Sumrall. At the age of
seventeen, he lay dying of tuberculosis without hope of recovery -- at
least according to his doctors. It was at this time that God gave him a
choice of either preaching the gospel or dying an untimely death. He
chose to serve God. Leaving his home in Panama City, Florida, he became a
"brush arbor" preacher in the backwoods of Florida, Tennessee, and
"The first eighteen months away from home as a young preacher-boy were
my introduction to the school of evangelism. I didn't look much like a
preacher in my ninety-two pounds of city-boy finery, but I did manage to
convince farmers along the way to open up their schoolhouses and let us
hold revival services.
times I was brash, abrupt, and negative. Often the people simply
laughed at me, which irritated me to no end. One night I was so dejected
that I didn't even try to take up an offering, and I didn't ask anyone
if they wanted to be saved either. The next morning the host-farmer
said, 'Young man, if you don't work, you don't eat. If you plan to stay
here any longer, you can feed the hogs.' Then he shoved two big pails of
slop into my hands.
"'Feed the Hogs?!' As I carried those heavy buckets, the foul-smelling
slop washed over onto my clothes and into my shoes. After that I was
really able to identify with the story of the Prodigal Son. I lay down
in the middle of the corn field not caring if my clothes were getting
dirty and cried out, 'Oh, Lord, maybe I should go home and die!' But the
Lord calmed me saying, 'If you will be faithful to Me, Lester, in these
little things, I will give you much greater things.'"
Lester stayed with the "country folk" long enough to see them come
around and respond to the move of the Holy Spirit. It was also during
this time that God showed him, through a vision, the next step he was to
take. The vision revealed multitudes, men and women of various
nationalities, going to Hell – and their blood was on the young
preacher's hands. This vision, in much the same way as the first, took
Lester's life in an entirely new direction.
Faith Can Change Your World
December 18, 1931, the night of my second vision, far away in London,
England, Howard Carter was praying. He was so moved by what he sensed
God telling him that he wrote the words of the message down: 'I have
found a companion for thee; I have called a worker to stand beside
thee... He is called and chosen and shalt join thee. Behold he cometh;
he cometh from afar. He cometh to help thee to carry thy burden and be a
strength at thy side, and thou shalt find pleasure in his service and
shalt delight in his fellowship.'"
Lester Sumrall was that companion. What ensued was a relationship not
unlike that of Paul and Timothy's and a ministry that changed the course
of the world. Together, the two men forged new territory in the arena
of spiritual warfare as they cast out devils, won new converts,
established churches, and instructed men and women of God from Australia
to England. After growing in the grace and knowledge of God, and
meeting pioneers of faith such as Smith Wigglesworth, World War II
separated Lester from his friends in England. Fortunately, the war also
served to unite him to a woman with whom he would spend the majority of
God's Blueprint for a Happy Home
"On my way home by train, I stopped for gospel meetings in British
Columbia, speaking in the towns of Terrace, Smithers, and Prince George.
In each, I kept hearing about this lovely Louise Layman, that pretty,
young missionary from Argentina - and the rich blessing that she had
been wherever she went.
became even more curious to meet her. She sounded like quite an
intrepid missionary. What kind of courage had brought a young woman up
into Canada during the winter? Normally, only zealous male missionaries
brought the gospel here. "I wondered if I would ever get to meet her."
Lester would indeed have the opportunity to meet "Miss Louisa" at - in
the most appropriate of places - a wedding ceremony in Buenos Aires,
Argentina. Their eyes met, they smiled at each other, and the rest... is
Lester Sumrall and Louise Layman were married on September 30, 1944.
Taking the "unconventional" route to honeymooning, the newlyweds began a
fifty-thousand-mile missionary tour and life together that spanned over
forty-nine years. Throughout the course of their marriage they
ministered and lived in various foreign locales and, as Lester Sumrall
so often and proudly stated, "never had a quarrel." God, rewarding
Lester's faithfulness, blessed he and Louise with three industrious sons
(Frank, Stephen, and Peter) and eleven grandchildren, all of whom have
witnessed the goodness that one man's life can bring.
Lester Sumrall, with the help and support of his family and many
friends, founded LeSEA (Lester Sumrall Evangelistic Association) in
1957: A ministry which has subsequently given birth to well over one
hundred books and study guides, thirteen television stations, 2
satellite ministry, three FM radio stations, five shortwave stations
reaching over ninety percent of the world's population, and a quarterly
magazine. Perhaps the crowning glory of Lester Sumrall's work is his
ongoing ministry to feed desperately poor families within the Body of
Christ. Established in 1987, LeSEA Global Feed the Hungry® has given
millions of pounds in food and supplies valued at millions of dollars to
countless believers around the globe. And again, as Lester Sumrall so
"This is just the beginning. There are greater blessings ahead!"
Goodbye Planet Earth
"I am assured that this ministry will continue in the second generation,
and I pray in the third as well, if Jesus tarries. We will experience
success in our efforts to reach those million souls for Christ, if we
continue to carry the same vision and consecration.
who do not make provision for successors in business or ministry often
leave behind problems that someone else has to clear up. Either that, or
they leave no business or ministry at all. I feel that God will give a
smooth transition for my successors, as I have provided them with an
organization that can expand and grow. Instead of a mess, I will leave
behind a well-organized, expertly managed evangelistic ministry. My sons
will not have to struggle to match my accomplishments in the ministry
either. They have developed a working relationship together that will
far exceed anything I could accomplish alone.
"I can imagine my sons facing some dilemma in the ministry and asking
one another, 'What would Dad have done in this situation?' I wish I
could leave behind all the answers, but I cannot. In fact, that will not
be necessary. I know the Holy Spirit is already guiding my sons as He
has guided me. They will always have Him to turn to whenever they are
not sure of the way. Good-bye, planet Earth! It's been nice knowing
you." - Lester Sumrall