Family and friends honor his contributions to international evangelism
MONTREAT, N.C., July 6, 2012 /Christian Newswire
/ -- Dr. Sterling Huston, 76, former Director of North American Crusades for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and one of Billy Graham's closest associates, died on June 29, 2012, in Rochester, New York, after a courageous battle with cancer.
"Sterling was one of my closest associates and his vision, his unique gifts and his strong commitment to evangelism were indispensable to my Crusade ministry," Billy Graham said, "Over the years Sterling organized and directed dozens of our city-wide crusades, and his winsome spirit and his confidence in the life-changing power of the Gospel inspired countless Christians to reach their communities for Christ. Without his dedication and careful attention to detail, our Crusade ministry would have been severely limited."
For almost half a century, Sterling Huston was an essential laborer and leader in the ministry of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) – instrumental in spreading the Gospel message around the world. For a little more than a quarter of a century, as chair of the BGEA/Billy Graham Center (BGC) Liaison Committee, he was a champion of BGC's programs, including the Archives, located at Wheaton College in suburban Chicago.
"Sterling will be greatly missed, as he was a wonderful servant of the Lord and a real friend," said Franklin Graham, BGEA president and CEO. "All of us at BGEA are indebted to him for his years of faithful service, especially to my father and his team."
In addition to his service with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, Huston served on numerous boards and committees, including Evangelism Explosion, Mission America, and Operation Starting Line (a coalition of ministries focused on prisons). He was an early proponent of using the Internet as a means of evangelism, and was Chair of the Internet Evangelism Coalition.
"Sterling Huston was one of the great models of elegant, godly Christian statesmanship in our time," said Evangelism Explosion President Dr. John Sorensen. "He was a man of strong commitment to the gospel of Jesus Christ, and was truly a leader among leaders.
Sterling Huston was born on May 19, 1936, in Perham, Maine. He graduated with Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in industrial engineering from the University of Maine, and pursued advanced studies at the University of Rochester in upstate New York. After three years as an engineer with Eastman Kodak in Rochester, Huston sensed that God was calling him to leave industry and serve as local Executive Director of Youth for Christ. In 1966 he was asked to join the Billy Graham team as a Crusade Coordinator, and later became Director of Associate Crusades. He assumed the responsibility of Director of North American Crusades in 1974, and in recent years served as BGEA's Director of Special Ministries.
"Sterling was a true servant of the Lord, and, of course, to Mr. Graham and this ministry," noted Ken Barun, BGEA chief of staff. "Even up to the last few weeks of his life here on earth, he was working on BGEA matters. He was always, without fail, a perfect gentleman."
Dr. David Bruce, executive assistant to Billy Graham and one of Sterling Huston's long-time colleagues, added, "Sterling not only had a deep commitment to Mr. Graham's public ministry, but he wanted to pass on to others the lessons God had taught us about evangelism. For example, he oversaw the development of BGEA's Christian Life and Witness program, which has helped many thousands strengthen their relationship with Christ and share their faith with others."
Huston also taught at numerous BGEA Schools of Evangelism, and was a speaker at several major international evangelism conferences, including Amsterdam '83, Amsterdam '86, and Amsterdam 2000. He also was Chair of the 1994 North American Conference for Itinerant Evangelists, which brought together more than 2,500 evangelists to develop new strategies for reaching their nations for Christ.
"Sterling was literally the first in my door to encourage and help me when I was asked to head up BGEA's new Internet evangelism efforts," said Duane Gaylord, vice president of video and digital media services. To date over 3.2 million people have been exposed to the Gospel message through BGEA's Internet ministry, with more than 550,000 indicating their commitment to Jesus Christ.
Huston was the author of two widely influential books, The Billy Graham Crusade Handbook (1983) and Crusade Evangelism and the Local Church (1984, revised edition 1996). In addition, until his death he was Chair of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association - Wheaton College Liaison Committee, which oversees the work of the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College in Illinois. In 1984, he received a Doctor of Divinity degree from Roberts Wesleyan College in Rochester.
Dr. Huston is survived by his wife of 47 years, Esther, and their two children, Todd and Alissa, and their families.
A memorial service will be held July 21 at 1:30 p.m. at Browncroft Community Church in Rochester. The family has requested that in lieu of flowers, gifts be sent to the Billy Graham Library (www.billygrahamlibrary.org
) or Evangelism Explosion International (www.evangelismexplosion.org
Note to Editors: For more information or to arrange an interview with a representative of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, please contact Melany Ethridge of A. Larry Ross Communications at (972) 267-1111 or via email at Melany@alarryross.com.