Jim Rayburn

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Jim Rayburn
James Chalmers Rayburn Jr

July 21, 1909 (1909-07-21)
Marshalltown, Iowa, United States
DiedDecember 11, 1970 (1970-12-12)
Colorado Springs, Colorado, United States
Cause of deathProstate Cancer
EducationB.S. Mineralogy & M.A. Divinity
Alma materKansas State University & Dallas Seminary
Known forFounder of the Young Life organization
Spouse(s)Helen Maxine Stanley
ChildrenElna Ann Rayburn, Mary Margraet (Sue) Rayburn, and Jim C. Rayburn III
Parent(s)James Chalmers and Elna Beck Rayburn, Sr

Jim Rayburn, Jr (July 21, 1909 – December 11, 1970) was an ordained Presbyterian minister and the founder of Young Life. He was born in Marshalltown, Iowa to James Chalmers Rayburn, Sr. (an evangelist for the Presbyterian Church), and Elna Beck Rayburn. Rayburn was the oldest of four sons, and grew up in Newton, Kansas. His younger brother, Robert, would become the founding president of both Covenant College and Covenant Theological Seminary. In 1936 Rayburn began his seminary education at Dallas Theological Seminary. While there he was significantly influenced by the seminary's founder, Lewis Sperry Chafer. Upon graduating Kansas State University in 1941 he founded Young Life (originally known as Young Life Campaign), a Christian youth organization.

In 1932, Rayburn married Helen Maxine Stanley. The couple had three children: Ann, Sue, and Jim III. (Sue died shortly after Rayburn did.) Maxine Rayburn died in 1997.

Rayburn left the presidency of Young Life in 1964. He died on December 11, 1970, at his home in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

He was a pioneer in the field of evangelism and was admired by many of the leading Christians of his day. He was known for his ability to communicate the gospel and his passion for Christ. Rayburn's personal journals were published in 2008 as The Diaries of Jim Rayburn. His life is described in several books including:

  • Cailliet, Emile; Young Life (1963)
  • Meridith, Char; It's a Sin to Bore a Kid: The Story of Young Life (1977) ISBN 0-8499-0043-3
  • Miller, John; Back to the Basics about the early years of Young Life including a lot of Rayburn's life.
  • Rayburn, Jim: The Diaries of Jim Rayburn (2008) Rayburn's personal journals, edited and annotated by Kit Sublett Morningstar Press and Whitecaps Media ISBN 978-0-9758577-7-9
  • Rayburn, Jim III; From Bondage To Liberty - Dance, Children, Dance a biography by his son (2000) ISBN 0-9673897-4-7
    • The earlier edition was simply called Dance, Children, Dance (1984) ISBN 0-8423-0515-7

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