Suffering and crises of faith were no strangers to the life and ministry of itinerate Bible teacher and author Ron Dunn.
Despite Dunn’s life being marked with personal pain and loss, including his life being cut short by pulmonary fibrosis at the age of 64, his influence continues to echo through countless pastors and church leaders.
Tom Elliff, president of the SBC’s International Mission board, called Ron Dunn “the prophet.” The late Adrian Rogers said Dunn was “in a class by himself.”
Ron Dunn: His Life and Mission, a new biography by Ron Owens from B&H Publishing, captures the story of a man who became an inspiration and mentor to many of today’s Christian leaders.
Owens’ biography details Dunn’s significant successes early in his ministry, and maintains those times were vital to what was to come later. “What God did in his heart in those days, unknown to him at the moment, was preparation for testings and opportunities ahead that many of us would not choose,” said Owens.
In 1975, he resigned a successful pastorate at MacArthur Boulevard Baptist Church in Irving, Texas, to devote time to teaching and writing. He spoke at conferences around the globe, including becoming the only American to repeatedly speak at the Keswick Conference in England.
Less than three months after beginning his new ministry, he and his wife, Kaye, lost their oldest son Ron Jr. to suicide, which plunged Dunn into a 10-year bout with clinical depression. Later Kaye endured chemotherapy for lymphoma, and their daughter Kim developed complications from an auto accident that ultimately led to the partial amputation of her leg.
Through peaks and valleys, Dunn continued to speak and write until just before his death, encouraging pastors, church leaders and Christians around the world through in-depth, biblical sermons and honest portrayals of his own life.
“Ron was a man of keen intellect, and he loved the study of the Scriptures,” said Owens. “He was never content with a superficial grasp of a passage, but took the time to think, research and pray much over it.”
His first book, Any Christian Can, was published in 1976. He went on to write six books including Will God Heal Me? and Faith Crisis, both of which are being rereleased by B&H to coincide with the new biography.
Dunn’s trials demonstrated that his faith was foundational for him and educational for others.
“He preached out of his pain,” said former LifeWay president Jimmy Draper, “and that was an incredible ministry.”
Elliff said the faith of Dunn and his wife “had been hammered out on the anvil of their own experience.”
“Simply knowing Ron and Kaye had also faced some of life’s extremities gave his message an authenticity that can be gained in no other fashion,” continued Elliff.
Having Dunn as a mentor and friend, Michael Catt, pastor of Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Ga., saw him as “a man who lived many days in the valley. Yet regardless of the trial or test, he would ascend to the pulpit to preach of the victory we have in Christ.”
As a preacher and author, Dunn said his purpose was to accurately explain Scripture, which makes it entirely appropriate that, according to those who knew him, his life was a clear demonstration of Philippians 3:10.
Like the Apostle Paul, through many personal trials and tragedies, Dunn strove toward a goal of knowing Christ “and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings.”
For Kaye, that goal comes across in the biography, stating she believes Owens “beautifully and prayerfully captured the essence of Ron’s life and ministry on paper. You will get to know the real Ron Dunn through reading this book.”
Aaron Earls is a writer for LifeWay Christian Resources.