Jack Wyrtzen

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John Wyrtzen
John Von Casper Wyrtzen

(1913-04-22)April 22, 1913
DiedApril 17, 1996(1996-04-17) (aged 82)

John Von Casper "Jack" Wyrtzen (22 April 1913 – 17 April 1996)[1] was a youth evangelist and founder of Word of Life ministries, which he led for 50 years.[2] He was from Woodhaven, Long Island, New York and was credited as being a source of inspiration for Youth for Christ.


From 1938 to 1940, Jack Wyrtzen attended Hawthorne Evening Bible School, in Hawthorne, New Jersey, but he did not graduate. In 1943, Wyrtzen received an honorary degree from the same school.

From 1929 to 1933, he led a dance band at night and until 1940 he worked as an insurance salesman during the day.

Beginning in 1933 and lasting until 1940, he helped to form XBA, Chi Beta Alpha (Christians Born Again), a Bible study and fellowship group for young men; Phi Gamma organized for women. In 1940 the two groups were merged into one. In that same year, he helped to reorganize Word of Life Fellowship. Wyrtzen spoke in many churches and venues, holding meetings from the streets to stadiums; he is credited with influencing Billy Graham, George Verwer and other evangelistic leaders.

Radio and Television ministry[edit]

Wyrtzen took to the air over WBBC as a preacher and then began the "Word of Life" [3] program over WHN in 1941.

Word of Life Fellowship[edit]

Wyrtzen held rallies under the name of the Word of Life Fellowship Bible Conference and became director (until 1991) of Word of Life Ministries. In 1942, he founded the Word of Life Camp Ministry and in 1946 he purchased an island on Schroon Lake for the Word of Life Camp, and then opened more camps in other cities in the U.S. and other countries. Wyrtzen crisscrossed America holding evangelistic crusades in major cities as well as in country churches. He is credited with developing Bible clubs in over 1,000 churches and starting youth ministries in over 70 countries.[2]

His Word of Life ministry flourished with the founding of conference centers in New York and Florida. He developed overseas ministries and established Bible Clubs for young people which influenced the founding members of Youth for Christ International. In 1971, with Word of Life co-director Harry Bollback, a Bible Institute was founded.

Currently Word of Life is directed by Don Lough, Jr.


Wyrtzen's father was a foreman in a glass factory, and his mother was involved in Republican politics. Wyrtzen had two brothers. Wyrtzen married Margaret Smith on April 18, 1936 (died in 1984.) Two years after Margaret died, Wyrtzen remarried. He and Joan Steiner were wed on May 6, 1986. Wyrtzen died on April 17, 1996, leaving behind his wife Joan.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Papers of John Von Casper "Jack" Wyrtzen - Collection 446". Billy Graham Center. 2002-11-14. Retrieved 2009-06-22.
  2. ^ a b "Word of Life founder Wyrtzen dies". 40 (7). Christianity Today. 1996-06-17: 63.
  3. ^ McKibben, Frank M. (1946). "New Evangelistic Movements and Religious Education". Religious Education. Vol. 41. p. 213.

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