Dr. Roy Thompson
Roy Thompson was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan in May 1933, the youngest child of Henry and Mabel Thompson. After years of suffering abuse at the hands of a raging alcoholic husband, Mabel finally fled with her children. The next five years were spent finding a “home” wherever they could – and that often meant a railroad station or public park.
Though filled with loathing for his father, Roy followed in his footsteps, and by his teenage years, was himself an alcoholic. By age 19, he had already served a stint in the army (having enlisted with his brother’s name and birth certificate) and was a hardened street thug and petty criminal.
Meanwhile, his sister Dorothy had married, and she and her husband were attending Akron Baptist Temple in Akron, Ohio, having gone at the invitation of a friend. Both had gotten saved and were anxious for Roy to hear the message of God’s forgiveness. During a visit to Akron, he agreed to go with them to a Friday evening revival service where Dr. B. R. Lakin was the guest evangelist. The preaching immediately brought conviction, and when the invitation was extended, he walked to the altar and was shown the plan of salvation by Dr. Jim Moore, who would become a beloved mentor. The transformation began immediately, and his pastor, Dr. Dallas Billington, became a surrogate father to him.
Shortly thereafter, the call came from Uncle Sam. This time, he would be serving under his own name. Rather than succumbing to the peer pressures of his military comrades, this baby Christian used every spare minute to saturate himself with the Scriptures. Aboard the ship bound for Germany, he read through the New Testament eleven times in thirteen days.
After completing his military service, he returned to Akron and enrolled in a local Bible institute for a year. There he met his future wife, Faith Sherban. Then came the move to Baptist Bible College in Springfield, Missouri. Despite the rigors of working two jobs to support his family (two babies had come along) and pastoring a small church in Nevada, Missouri, Roy graduated as class valedictorian in 1958.
Immediately after graduation, the young family moved to Cleveland, Ohio to start a new church. They’d been given ominous warnings that, in fundamental Baptist circles, Cleveland was nicknamed “the graveyard of preachers,” but Roy was convinced of God’s calling. They knew no one in the entire county, had no employment prospects, no house, and no relatives to rely on. Struggles were abundant, but the Lord provided two jobs, and every “spare” minute was spent “pounding the pavement.” The church held its first service in August 1958 in the living room of a rented house. Not long thereafter, Cleveland Baptist Church was formally organized. The young congregation’s phenomenal growth necessitated four building programs in the first decade – including a 1000 seat sanctuary. In the years to follow, Heritage Christian School and Heritage Baptist Institute were founded as ministries of the church.
Dr. Thompson pastored the church for 37 years before retiring in 1995. During his years in the pastorate, he became a champion for the cause of Christian education and world-wide missions. He was instrumental in the founding of Christian Schools of Ohio, the Christian Law Association, and B.E.M.A., a missions board established to serve the unique needs of foreign nationals.
After his retirement, Dr. Thompson spent much time in the Philippines working both with American missionaries and national pastors and establishing an orphanage.
Dr. Thompson went home to be with the Lord on June 14, 2010 at the age of 77. He was loved by thousands of Christians all around the globe. His impact will be felt in Cleveland and the regions beyond for many years. We are truly grateful for the life of Dr. Roy Thompson.
Below you will find some of Dr. Thompson’s messages, including his funeral service.