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24 August 2015

A tribute to Maurice Rowlandson

by Alex Bowler 

Maurice Rowlandson, a former member of staff at the Evangelical Alliance and the former director of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association in the UK,  passed away on Thursday, 13 August - just two days before his 90th birthday.

Maurice was a key figure in British evangelism for more than 60 years, and was used by God to organise some of the greatest gospel missions the United Kingdom has ever seen.

After working for the British evangelist Tom Rees, he joined the Campaigners Youth Movement. Then, on 29 September, 1952 he was invited to become the extensions secretary of the Evangelical Alliance, a position he held for nine years. 

When Dr Billy Graham was invited to come to England to hold the Greater London Crusade in Harringay Arena, Maurice was appointed by the Crusade Committee to be the assistant to Roy Cattell, the Crusade director, and together they organised what was to be the longest gospel mission ever held in Great Britain, lasting three months.

During the years that followed, Maurice spent time showing Billy Graham films in prisons and in Armed Forces bases in Britain and Germany, where many lives where affected as a result including Billy Strachan's life. He went on to become the director of Capernwray Bible School. 

In 1961 Maurice was invited to join the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association to be the UK Director, a position he held for more than 30 years. 

During this time thousands of people registered that they had committed their lives to Christ in venues such as Wembley stadium, Ashton Gate Stadium and Crystal Palace Stadium, through watching live broadcasts of the Billy Graham missions on large screens or  through watching messages by Billy Graham on television. 

Maurice was well-known for his love of sailing and started the Venturers Cruise on the Norfolk Broads. He was also the secretary of the Keswick Convention for 14 years and the chairman of TWR.  

Maurice wrote several books including 'Life With Billy' and 'I'm Going To Ask You', which featured the testimonies of some of those who had come to Christ through the ministry of Billy Graham. 

I was one of those people, becoming a Christian in Crystal Palace Stadium one summer's evening during the 1989 LIFE mission in London. In that same evening, I received the call to preach the gospel as I stood in the crowd in front of the platform. 

I first met Maurice Rowlandson five years later in 1994 in London and following our first meeting he invited me to have lunch with him at the Italian restaurant where he had sometimes dined with Billy Graham. It was there that he told me that he was going to help me in my ministry and calling as an evangelist. For the next 21 years he did just that.   

I, like countless others who had the privilege of knowing Maurice, found him to be one of the kindest and most thoughtful men you could ever hope to meet. His motto seemed to be 'why not?', when faced with the question of whether something could be done to help people to hear about Jesus, no matter how big the challenge. Maurice Rowlandson truly lived out his Christian life to the full, in the certain knowledge that soul-winning was at the very top of God's agenda.

I will miss my dear friend Maurice very much and I thank God for him, but I know I'll meet him again one day because of Jesus, who died for our sins on the cross and rose again.

Maurice Rowandson is survived by his wife Marilyn and two children, their spouses and eight grandchildren, their spouses and four great-grandchildren.

A Thanksgiving  Service for his life has been arranged for the 26 September in Greyfriars Church, Reading at 11:00am.

Alex Bowler is a British Evangelist.