How do you write the obituary of a man who so changed the way you look at true revivalforever? That was my unwelcome task on Monday, when I learned evangelist Steve Hill went on to glory after a long fight with melanoma.
I got the news through a text message at 3 a.m. I retired early after not sleeping much the previous night due to my coverage of Ulf Ekman’s conversion to Roman Catholicism out of Sweden. Yes, I got the news through a text message—and then a flood of email and Facebook messages—when I woke up at 3 a.m. Of course, I could not go back to sleep.
I’ll always remember the first time I actually spoke to Steve Hill. I had written about him in June 2011, when his staff called for 48 hours of prayer. He was on the brink of death. But death’s grip wasn’t strong enough to hold him. It wasn’t his time. He defied death, hell and the grave.
Five months later, I had an opportunity to interview him. Not only was he alive and well, but he was ready to win another million souls for Jesus. He was full of fire and passion. In that article, “After Defying Death, Evangelist Steve Hill Sets Out to Win Another Million Souls,” he shared with me, “My funeral was planned and my burial plot was purchased. I can’t believe I’m alive.”
I guess I thought he would never die. Well, not to this enemy anyway. There were so many close calls, but he always bounced back. He was a walking, talking miracle.
That interview lasted nearly two hours, and not just because he was telling me stories of miracles and gospel crusades—because he was interviewing me! Steve Hill wanted to hear my story! He was just like that.
“I can tell you love the Lord,” he said to me. “I don’t know how you were raised. I wish you would tell me. What kind of church were you raised in?”
Yes, that’s just how he was. Steve Hill was interested in talking about other people and their stories. He loved a good testimony. He enjoyed seeing lives transformed. When I explained to him that I was saved in jail, it was like we were old friends—there was an instant bond. He had a similar story.
“I’m going to send you my mug shot,” he beamed. We traded testimonies, and he wanted to know where he could read more about my life. He wanted to know if I was writing any books—he later offered glowing endorsements of my next two works. He told me stories about David Wilkerson and Leonard Ravenhill. He shared his passion for the gospel. It was contagious.
One day I wrote an especially hard-hitting article on Charisma News. The phone rang and, as was often the case, it was Steve Hill calling out of the blue. He often called, emailed or sent text messages to cheer me on. On this particular call, he wasted no time telling me he just read an article I had published 10 minutes ago. My heart jumped. I thought he was about to correct me for being too bold. But it was just the opposite. He encouraged me to keep being a bold voice for the Lord, no matter whether anybody liked it or not. I’ll never forget it.
Another time he called to tell me about a vision he had just had a couple of days before. He described an alarming vision in which he saw “a massive, majestic mountain covered in glistening snow.” He said, “It reminded me of the Matterhorn in the Swiss Alps. Its peaks were sparkling white, and I was amazed by God’s attention to detail. It was so realistic, I wanted to go skiing! But I sensed that there was more that the Holy Spirit was about to reveal.” He wound up writing a book about that vision called Spiritual Avalanche that exposes the great lies in the church today.
I could go on and on about Steve Hill. He was a man of conviction, a man of courage, a man who refused to compromise the gospel. He was more than an inspiration to me; he was a general of the faith whom the Lord used to strengthen my stand against anything that would come between God’s love and His creation. He imparted to me a heart for evangelism, a determination to see revival and so much more.
I write this through tears, knowing I’ll miss Steve Hill more than I realize as the shock wears off but grateful for what he imparted to me during his journey. I know he heard the words, “Well done, My good and faithful servant.”
Steve, we’ll strive to keep the revival fires burning until we see you again.
Jennifer LeClaire is news editor at Charisma. She is also the author of several books, including The Making of a Prophet. You can email Jennifer at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her website here. You can also join Jennifer on Facebook or follow her on Twitter.