Jamall Badry Now With the Lord

post date: August 30, 2010


Jamall Badry at the MEF Conference. (Picture credit: Lisa Branham)
Whenever I called him on the phone, I would always ask, “Is this the Old Singer?” and he would reply with a laugh, “What’s left of him.” I thought of that when the news came that my dear friend Jamall Badry died suddenly over the weekend. The news was a shock to me in so many ways. Just last month I had chatted with him on the phone and we talked about his plans for next year’s MEF Conference in Colorado Springs. We were going to have to move to a new venue, and he couldn’t find a good location. “It has to seat at least 1500 people and that’s hard to find in Colorado Springs.” Then some talk about this year’s conference. “It was the best ever,” he declared, and then he added, quite truthfully, “But we say that every year.”

Twenty-nine years ago Jamall had the vision of establishing an interdenominational Bible conference that would draw Christians to Colorado Springs from the Plains States and across the Southwest. More than once I heard him tell the story of how in the first year, they started with something like 15 people. This year at least 2500 people gathered for the big opening night. And the crowds stayed strong all week long. 

I first preached there in 2005. Then again in 2006. Then again in 2008. And again this year. Because Jamall was a music evangelist, he insisted that each service be filled with abundant music. So he invited more musicians than preachers. I can honestly say this is the only conference I know where the music stands in equal importance with the preaching. This year I preached at the conference along with Erwin Lutzer, Colin Smith, and my new friend Charles Price. Jeannette Clift George shared an amazing dramatic presentation. And the list of musicians was unbelievable, including Huw Priday, Greg Buchanan, Carolyn Reed, John Hall, Twice Adopted, Scott Cameron, Linda Skaret, Paul and Marjorie Ferrin, Dino Kartsonakis, and the incomparable Russell Newport. Plus there were three guest choirs. If I’ve forgotten anyone (and I probably have), I apologize in advance. 

The first time I went to the conference by myself. But when I got home I told Marlene, “If I’m ever invited back, you’ve got to go with me.” So the next year we went together and the worship and the preaching lifted us into the heavenly realms.

This morning Marjorie Ferrin told me that she believed God had put a special calling on Jamall’s life. It had to be that way because there was no other reason for the conference to exist. It was virtually the only Bible conference left that was not attached to a school or an organization of some kind. Jamall shouldered the burden for 29 years. I knew when we saw him this year that the burden had become very heavy. The financial commitment alone was overwhelming. A sensible man would not have attempted it.

I can see my dear friend in heaven laughing at that last sentence. “It wasn’t sensible,” he would say, “but God was in it.” Yes, he was. 

When I spoke with Colin Smith about Jamall’s passing, he remarked that Jamall was “very unique.” I think that’s a bit of Scottish understatement. He was in truth his own man, very stylish (he was almost the last man I know who liked to wear a hat), very funny, and easily moved to tears. I’m so glad I knew him.

He had a particular thing he said when a musician or a preacher had surpassed expectations. He would go to the microphone when they were done and say with a smile, “That’ll do.” We always clapped and cheered because that was his highest accolade. So I think it happened like this. Sometime Friday night or early Saturday morning, God looked down from heaven and saw his weary servant who had served so well for so long. He knew the burdens had become too heavy, and so he said, “That’ll do, Jamall.” And the Old Singer went home to heaven. 

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