Before his death on June 29, 2001, at the age of 64, due to Pulmonary Fibrosis, Ronald Dunn had an extensive itinerate ministry of Bible teaching and preaching and served as the Minister-at-Large for the MacArthur Blvd. Baptist Church in Irving. He was also the president of LifeStyle Ministries, an organization that produces Bible study cassettes, which he founded in 1970. He preached Bible Conferences all over the United States, Europe, Australia, Canada, Central America, South Africa and the Caribbean Islands.
A graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University, Ron was saved at the age of nine, began preaching at the age of fifteen and pastored his first church at the age of seventeen. After completing his Masters of Divinity at the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary he pastored the Valley View Baptist Church and Munger Place Baptist Church of Dallas. In 1966, he became the pastor of the MacArthur Boulevard Baptist Church in Irving, TX.
During his time as pastor there, the church doubled in size and began a unique 24-hour Intercessroy Prayer Ministry. This Prayer Ministry has become the model for similar ministries in churches and Christian organizations around the country. In 1975, Ron resigned to fully devote his time to an itinerate ministry of bible teaching and writing.
Ron Dunn is the author of ANY CHRISTIAN CAN (Masters Press), THE FAITH CRISIS (Tyndale House), VICTORY (Tyndale House), DON’T JUST STAND THERE-PRAY SOMETHING (Thomas Nelson ), WILL GOD HEAL ME? (Multnomah and Kingsway, UK) and FRIENDLY FIRE (Thomas Nelson and Kingsway, UK). In 1993, the British edition of DON’T JUST STAND THERE-PRAY SOMETHING was on the UK Christian Bestsellers list for a year and a half, outselling every other Christian book in the UK.
His wife, Kaye, is the President of LifeStyle Ministries and lives in Flower Mound, Texas. They have two children, Stephen and Kimberly. Their first child, Ronald Jr., died in 1975 at the age of 18.
Chronological Biography of the Life of Ron Dunn
Ron Dunn was born October 24, 1936, in Poteau, OK, to Eunice and Cecil Dunn He had one brother, Barry Dunn, of Nashville, TN, and grew up mostly in Fort Smith, AR.
Ron was baptized at the age of 9, in Fort Smith, AR, at Southside Baptist Church. A short time later his family joined First Baptist Church, Fort Smith, AR, where Dr. J. Harold Smith was the pastor and had a great influence on his life and ministry.
He surrendered to the ministry in 1952 at the age of 15 at a Baptist encampment while Dr. Carl Bates was preaching. Ron began preaching at the city jail in Fort Smith at the age of 15 through the ministry of First Baptist Church; he also began preaching in weekend revivals in small rural churches as a team of young people would go out on the weekends.
Ron preached his first extended revival in 1953 at First Baptist Church of Bow Legs, OK, where Jake Self, one of his prayer mentors, was pastor. A young man named Johnny Bisagno led the music. Ron got sick the second week of the meeting and gave Johnny his first opportunity to preach.
He was ordained to the ministry at First Baptist Church by Dr. J. Harold Smith on December 29, 1954. One of the most important things the pastor said that night was, “God has not called you to be the next Billy Graham; he has called you to be Ronnie Dunn.” Ron said that was the most disappointing thing he had ever heard, but it was the best thing he could have possibly been told. His mother reinforced that thought through the years, as well as Kaye.
Ron met Rita Kaye Mitchell in February 1955 and they married at her home in Little Rock, AR, on December 21, 1956. Just 8 days shy of her 17th birthday, Kaye left Central High School in Little Rock and transferred to the high school in Shawnee, OK, where she completed her high school degree and began attending Oklahoma Baptist University where Ron was a student.
He became the weekend pastor of a rural church, Panola Baptist Church, in Panola, OK, in October 1956.
On October 13, 1957, Ronald Louis Dunn, Jr. was born in Shawnee, OK.
Ron received his Bachelor of Arts Degree from Oklahoma Baptist University in 1958, and in 1962 he received his Bachelor of Divinity from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. At the time of his death he was working on his Doctorate of Theology degree from Reformed Seminary. His class work had been completed, but he had not done his dissertation. He was always striving for excellence and wanted to be relevant to the pastors he was ministering to.
In 1961, a second son, Stephen Mitchell Dunn, was born in Dallas, TX, while Ron was pastor at Valley View Baptist Church.
On June 16, 1965, a daughter, Kimberly Kaye Dunn was born in Dallas, TX.
In 1965, Ron began an 18-month pastorate at Munger Place Baptist Church in Dallas, TX.
In October, 1966, Ron began a 9-year pastorate at MacArthur Boulevard Baptist Church in Irving, TX.
In April 1970, God broke through in revival at MacArthur Boulevard. Through the next five years, we were privileged to hear wonderful Bible teachers like Manley Beasley, Jack Taylor, Peter Lord, Dr. John Hunter, Dr. J. P. McBeth, Dr. Vance Havner and Miss Bertha Smith.
In 1972, Ron began a 24-hour, 7-day-a-week Intercessory Prayer Ministry at MacArthur Boulevard.
In 1972, Ron began preaching at Nationwide Conferences on Revival with Jack Taylor, Manley Beasley and Miss Bertha Smith.
In 1973, Ron began preaching at the Milldale Bible Conference in Zachary, LA, for 27 years until his death. Most years he preached this meeting with Manley Beasley.
In 1973, Ron began speaking in Bible Conferences with Dr. George Duncan (Scotland), Dr. Stephen Olford, Dr. Dwight Pentecost, Dr. Eric Alexander (Scotland), Dr. John Stott (England), Dr. Ray Stedman, Dr. Stewart Briscoe, Dr. Ian Thomas (England), Dr. Leonard Ravenhill, Dr. Bill Bright, Dr. Roy Fish, Dr. J. I. Packer, Dr. J. Edmond Orr, Dr. W A. Criswell, Dr. Adrian Rogers, Evangelist Bill Stafford, Dr. Charles Stanley, Dr. R. T. Kendall (England), Alan Redpath (England), Dr. Jimmy Draper, Dr. J. Glen Owen, Dr. John McArthur, Dr. Jerry Vines, Dr. Homer Lindsey, Jr., Dr. Carl Bates, Haddon Robinson, Dr. Gordon McDonald, Dr. Tom Eliff, Dr. Bailey Smith and Dr. Jim Hylton.
In 1974, Ron preached at the Campus Crusade Staff Training in California for Bill Bright. Cassette tapes of those messages have traveled all over the world since that time.
In 1975, Ron began a Bible Conference for pioneer pastors and their wives. This was intended to be a respite and encouragement for men, many who were bi-vocational and in difficult areas of service. We provided an airline ticket, a loving home and spiritual enrichment throughout the week, as well as wonderful gifts to show our love and appreciation to them. Ron wanted them to enjoy this week away as a couple, trusting that the Lord would refresh them spiritually and physically and send them back to their place of service renewed. Many of the pastors of MacArthur Boulevard continued this conference, allowing Ron to come back to preach this conference many years. In 2002 MBBC renamed the conference The Ron Dunn Encourager Conference, and we continue to minister in this way.
Ron resigned from MacArthur Boulevard on August 31, 1975, to enter full-time Bible Conference ministry.
On Thanksgiving Day, 1975, Ron Dunn, Jr. took his life at age 18.
December 1975, Ron preached his first International Conference on Revival for Manley Beasley in Switzerland, the first of many conferences held all over Switzerland.
In 1976, Ron had his first book published by Master’s Press, Any Christian Can.
In 1977, Ron preached again at the Campus Crusade Staff Training.
In 1978, Ron preached at the Keswick Convention in Keswick, England, the first of many times.
In 1979, Ron preached at the Filey Convention in England, the first of many times.
In the late 70s, he began a long-time association with Del City Baptist Church in Del City, OK; First Baptist Church Little Rock in Little Rock, AR; Geyer Springs Baptist Church in Little Rock, AR; Castle Hills Baptist Church in San Antonio, TX; First Baptist Church in Greenwood, AR; Great Hills Baptist Church in Austin, TX (formerly Allendale Baptist Church); Leawood Baptist Church in Memphis, TN; and Southside Baptist Church in Pine Bluff, AR.
In the 80s, Ron began an association with First Baptist Church in Ada, OK; Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis, TN; First Presbyterian Church in Chattanooga, TN; Woodland Park Baptist Church in Chattanooga, TN; Calvary Baptist Church in Knoxville, TN; MacArthur Boulevard Baptist Church in Irving, TX; Eastside Baptist Church in Marietta, GA; Shades Mountain Baptist Church in Birmingham, AL; MEF Bible Conference in Colorado Springs, CO (from 1982-2001); Calvary Hill Baptist Church in Mesquite, TX; Cottage Hill Baptist Church in Mobile, AL; Bannockburn Baptist Church in Austin, TX; New Orleans Theological Baptist Seminary in New Orleans, LA; Columbia Bible School in Columbia, SC; Real Evangelism Conferences; First Baptist Church in Houston, TX; First Baptist Church in Euless, TX; North Richland Hills Baptist Church in North Richland Hills, TX; First Baptist Church in West Memphis, AR; Woodland Baptist Church in Jackson, TN; First Baptist Church in New Albany, MS; First Baptist Church in San Antonio, TX; Oakland Baptist Church in Corinth, MS; First Baptist Church in Grand Avenue, AR; Evangelical Covenant Church in Springfield, MA; Rocky Mountain Bible Conference in Rifle, CO; and First Baptist Church in Lubbock, TX. Some of these churches he only preached at two or three times, but most he went to on a more regular basis. In several of these churches, Ron did conferences every year till his death.
In 1981, Ron preached at the Filey Convention in England and the Toronto Spiritual Life Convention at the Peoples Church in Toronto, Canada.
In 1982, Ron preached at the Keswick Convention in Keswick, England and at the Sunbridge Road Mission in Bradford, England.
In 1982, Ron preached at the Pastor’s Conference of the Southern Baptist Convention in New Orleans, LA.
In 1983, Ron preached with Dr. George Duncan at the Keswick Convention in Barbados, West Indies.
In 1984, Ron preached at the Filey Convention in Skegness, England and the Belgrave Heights Easter Convention in Melbourne, Australia.
In 1984, Ron was robbed and shot at in a Holiday Inn parking lot in Little Rock, Arkansas. The man who shot at him was given a 60-year sentence, and it was his fifth felony conviction.
In 1984, Ron’s second book was published by Tyndale, The Faith Crisis.
In 1985, Ron preached at the Pastors Conference of the Southern Baptist Convention in Dallas, TX.
In 1987, Ron preached at the Keswick Convention in England.
In 1986, Ron preached at the Campus Crusade Staff Training in Marina del Rey, CA.
In 1988, Ron preached at the Filey Crusade in Skegness, England.
In 1989, Ron preached at the Belgrave Heights Convention, Melbourne, Australia.
In the 1990′s Ron began an association with Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis, TN; Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, GA; Hopewell Baptist Church in Savannah, TN; Spiritual Awakening Conferences; Village Baptist Church in Oklahoma City, OK; Grassy Branch Baptist Church in Asheville, NC; First Baptist Church in Biloxi, MS; First Baptist Church in Jackson, MS; Sweet Jesus Retreats; Pickwick Landing State Park in TN; Green Acres Baptist Church in Tyler, TX; Bailey Smith’s Ministry Conferences; West Rome Baptist Church in Rome, GA; First Covenant Church in Grand Rapids, MI; First Baptist Church in Merritt Island, FL; First Baptist Church in Starkville, MS; Wayne Hills Baptist Church in Waynesboro, VA; Mud Creek Baptist Church in Hendersonville, NC; First Baptist Church in Cartersville, GA; Spring Baptist Church in Spring, TX; First Baptist Church in Highlands, NC; Immanuel Baptist Church in Pine Bluff, AR; Idlewild Baptist Church in Tampa, FL; First Baptist Church in Lavaca, AR; Northport Baptist Church in Northport, AL; Rockdale Baptist Church in Conyers, GA; and Riverbend Community Church in Ormand Beach, FL. Some of these churches he only preached at two or three times, but most he had a longer relationship.
In 1991, Ron’s third book was published by Thomas Nelson, Don’t Just Stand There, Pray Something.
In 1991, Ron preached a three-week “To Tell the Truth Tour” through England, Scotland and Wales.
In 1991, Ron spoke at the Rapha Luncheon at the Southern Baptist Convention.
In 1992, Ron’s book Don’t Just Stand There, Pray Something was number one on the Christian Bookseller’s List in the UK
In 1992, Ron preached at the Texas, Georgia and Missouri Evangelism Conferences.
In 1992, Ron preached at the Keswick Convention in Capetown, South Africa.
In 1993, Ron preached the Campus Revival at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.
In 1994, Ron was presented with a special award from the Christian Booksellers in Blackpool, England. There was formerly a strict policy that it only be given to British authors. On this same tour, Ron preached at All Souls Church in London, England for Rector Richard Bewes. It was one of his favorite places to preach.
In 1994, Ron’s fourth book was published by Thomas Nelson, When Heaven Is Silent.
In 1994, Ron made videos for Bill Gothard’s Institute in Basic Youth Conflicts to be used in pastor’s and leader’s seminars.
In 1994, Ron preached at the Knoxville Institute in Basic Life Principles for Bill Gothard.
In 1994, Ron preached at The Cove, Billy Graham’s Training Center.
In 1994, Ron’s Faith Book was number one on the Christian Bookseller’s list in the UK.
In 1995, Ron preached for six weeks at Woodland Park Baptist Church in Chattanooga, TN, while the pastor was on sabbatical.
In 1995, Ron taught a class at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.
In 1996, Ron preached at the Teaching Director’s Conference at Community Bible Study in Amelia Island, FL.
In 1996, Ron preached at the Pastor’s Conference of the Southern Baptist Convention in New Orleans, LA.
In 1997, Ron’s fifth book was published by Multnomah, Will God Heal Me?
In 1997, Ron led an Academic Workshop at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.
In 1997, Ron did a UK Tour—Keswick in Birmingham, All Souls Church in London and the Bangor Worldwide Missionary Convention in Ireland.
In 1998, Ron did a Kingsway Book Tour in the UK.
In 1998, Ron preached at Teen Missions International Conference in Merritt Island, FL.
In 1999, Ron preached at the Keswick Convention in Keswick, England.
In 1999, Ron preached a week at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, MO.
In 2001, Ron’s last book was published right before his death by Thomas Nelson, Surviving Friendly Fire.
Ron has preached in the following places: Canada, England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, Switzerland, Barbados, West Indies, Jamaica, South Africa, Australia, Austria, Italy, France, West Germany, East Germany, Israel, Greece, Hawaii and Alaska.
Influences in the Life of Ron Dunn
Dr. J. P. McBeth
We first heard Dr. J. P. McBeth preach at our home church in Ft. Smith, AR, while we were teenagers. What a delight to get to know this man personally and how thrilling it was that Dr. McBeth recommended Ron as pastor to MacArthur Boulevard in Irving in 1966. Ron was only 29 years old at the time, but Dr. McBeth assured our committee that Ron “would grow out of it.” Dr. McBeth was a preacher, writer and Greek scholar who like to doodle by parsing Greek verbs. He was definitely one of Ron’s earliest mentors and loved to teach young pastors things he had learned.
He and Mrs. McBeth would invite us to their home where he grew all his own organic vegetables, fruit trees and marvelous varieties of grapes. We never went away empty-handed nor did they come to our home without bearing some cantaloupe, watermelon or grapes fro, their vineyard. After dinner, we would gather in our living room, drinking some fresh grape juice while Dr. McBeth would always pull out papers and began teaching us something helpful about the ministry or preaching. He taught Ron how to think in images, drawing from his own life, rather than using books of others’ illustrations. He taught him to indent his paragraphs in the pulpit by moving from one side of the pulpit to the other. He was writing a book on preaching and Mrs. McBeth passed his notes on to Ron after Dr. McBeth went to Heaven. He was a wonderful mentor to a young pastor eager to learn.
Dr. Vance Havner
As teenagers at First Baptist in Ft. Smith, AR, we heard the great Dr. Vance Havner preach several times, never guessing that we would have the privilege of being counted among his friends in later years and considering him one of Ron’s mentors.
He preached for us at MacArthur Boulevard while Ron was pastor, and he and Ron preached in several Bible Conferences together. Dr. Havner was at least 40 years old when he married a lovely lady named Sarah and how he loved her. She became such an integral part of his life, and he never got over the pain of losing her to Cushing’s disease. Of course, he said, “You haven’t really lost someone when you know where they are.” But he was very honest with Ron about the void in his life when she went to heaven. Our oldest son died soon after Sarah, and Ron and I listened to Dr. Havner’s tape about Sarah’s death at least 20 times immediately following Ronnie’s death to gain strength and comfort. That made for an immediate bond in our lives.
Ron saw in Dr. Havner a simplicity that he loved and tried to implement in his own life and ministry. He admired the fact that he always stuck to the main thing, which was preaching the gospel.
When we began LifeStyle Ministries there were always people with big plans wanting to expand the ministry through various means. It may have been fine for someone else, but Ron always felt he was supposed to tend to his preaching and let God handle his ministry. Dr. Havner exemplified what Ron wanted to be, a simple preacher of the gospel always making the main thing the main thing. It was a thrill for Ron that Dr. Havner wrote an introduction to one of his books.
Odds and Ends Concerning Ron
Ron loved to collect guns since his first pastorates were out in the country and he was taught to target shoot. One year, The Milldale Bible Conference presented him with an Uzi, and he was thrilled by that. We took his collection to our farm each summer and both spent time on target practice. He loved cleaning and oiling his guns and particularly making his own ammunition.
In 1985, Ron was robbed and shot at in a Holiday Inn parking lot in Little Rock, AR, by two men while we were visiting my parents. His main doctor was in Little Rock, and every three months he came up for an exam and got three months of medication as this dear friend had finally discovered what was wrong with Ron. Ron happened to have his gun collection in the trunk of the car, and when these two men grabbed the bags out of his hands to steal them, they got a bag with some of his guns and a bag with his three months of medication. The local newspaper headlined an article, “preacher robbed of guns and drugs.” The prosecuting attorney did a wonderful job of explaining the gun collection and the medication during the trial, and the man who shot at him got a 60 year sentence for armed robbery. This was his fifth felony conviction.
He also loved horses. He became interested in riding during the days of his rural pastorates. Kim was given a thoroughbred quarter horse when she was 14 years old by a friend. She lost interest in the horse quickly, but we took him to our farm in Arkansas several summers and enjoyed riding while there.
Ron loved spending summers and holidays at our family farm in Greenwood, AR. He and the children loved to set up a trot line in the evening and go out in the middle of the night to check it. He loved riding the tractor and mowing the pasture while wearing his gun and shooting snakes when he came upon them. He was even known to shoot a fish or two! He and I loved to sit at the lake in the evenings; I would spot turtles for him, and he would shoot them. Most of his time at home was spent behind a desk, studying and writing, so this was a welcomed retreat. Ron’s parents and brother and his family lived on the farm, and we loved our time together with them as we would gather as a family each night for dinner and then play charades or card games afterward.
Ron always claimed that one of his main hobbies was thinking, and I know the time away at the farm allowed him creative, reflective time in which sermons and books were conceived. His first book, Any Christian Can, was completed while we were there one summer, and I had the privilege of typing and editing it for him—a joint effort which was exciting.
Ron was a man with simple tastes. He loved very plain food—just give him a good hamburger steak or spaghetti and meatballs, and he was a happy camper. He loved junk food, and at night we would crawl up in the bed with our stack of books and a big bowl of popcorn, chips or sweets and read. This was something he began doing while he traveled, and I fell into the habit quite happily as I traveled with him.
Of course, being from Dallas, Ron was a Cowboys fan. That interest waned some in later years after Tom Landry left the team, but he enjoyed all the professional football games. We were always on the road on Saturdays, so he didn’t watch much college football. We used to love to play tennis and enjoyed watching tennis on TV, especially Wimbledon. During all the months he was sick in bed, we watched any sport that was on to pass the time when he was too sick to study or read.
Ron had several favorite cars, but one of his favorites was his little black Nissan 280 Z and later a black 300 Z, which were great traveling cars since he spent so much time on the road. He would pack them to capacity and then head off for a meeting. One time a porter at a Chattanooga Hotel just sat down on the curb and watched as Ron packed the car, declaring that he didn’t think it could be done.
Years ago some friends at our church gave our children a tiny, snow-white toy poodle puppy against my better judgment and desires. The children liked the puppy, but Ron fell in love with it, and it became his. Ron suggested we name him Belshazzar since he was “weighed in the balance and found wanting.” Shaz and Ron became inseparable for sixteen years.
While preaching at Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis, TN, Ron shared about being part Cherokee. He explained that his last name meant “a yellow horse” in Cherokee. So, Adrian Rogers began calling him “Chief Yellow Horse” when he would introduce him at the Bible Conferences. This became a running joke between the two friends.