Lester Roloff

by Baptist.org Editorial Team on January 17, 2011 · 5 comments

On November 2, 1982, Roloff and four young female staff workers were killed when their plane crashed near Normangee, in Leon County, during a flight to a preaching and singing service they were scheduled to conduct.

As part of his eulogy, Dr. Bob Jones, Jr., said the following about Brother Roloff,

“he bore the brunt of the battle. He stood in the gap. He never retreated. … He was a man who- what he began he finished- and his motivation was always love.”

Bobby R. Glenn, long-time friend of Brother Roloff and member on the Board of Directors of Roloff Evangelistic Enterprises said, “after having known Lester Roloff for more than 47 years, I am convinced he was a man whose faith was in God alone. By faith he spent his endless energy and gave his vibrant life doing God’s bidding. No other man in our times has come close to him in proving what can be wrought through faith alone. Even so, he prayed continually that God would increase his faith. He was a faithful representative of Christ. His methods of ministering were learned from God’s Word. He trusted God to bless the ministry. Multitudes can attest to the fact that God was faithful to His believing servant, Lester Roloff.”

Mrs. Roloff, revised her “Living By Faith” work about Brother Roloff and released a book entitled “Lester Roloff, in Life and in Death.”

Following a memorial service, he was interred in Memory Gardens Cemetery across the road from and near the home in which the Roloffs had lived since 1972.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Houston Post, November 3, 1982. Vertical Files, Barker Texas History Center, University of Texas at Austin.
H. Allen Anderson

Date of Birth: June 28, 1914

Date of Passing: November 2, 1982

Laid to rest at: Memory Gardens Cemetery

Pastor’s Church: People’s Church

City: Corpus Christi

State: Texas

Country: United States

Association: Independent Baptist


Lester Roloff in the last years of his life had become a symbol and example to all who believe man ought to obey God rather than men. Until his death in an airplane crash in 1982, he was engaged in a battle against some of the forces of the State of Texas, primarily the Welfare Department–that would silence or greatly curtail his ministry if they could. The irony of it all is that he had done nothing but help change lives of countless youngsters who had nobody else to help them. It is hard to believe that the story you are now going to read could happen in America.

Lester Roloff
1914 – 1982

“The world’s greatest need is preaching preachers. The Gospel is our emancipation proclamation: let’s take it to the slaves of sin.”

Lester Roloff was born in Dawson, Texas, in 1914. His conversion at the age of fourteen came during a revival meeting when a godly Sunday school teacher urged him to give his heart to Christ.

He received his education at Baylor University, taking his Jersey cow, “Marie,” along with him and paying for his room and board with four gallons of milk per day.

After finishing school, “Brother Roloff” conducted a work of ministry both as a pastor and as an evangelist in his own inimitable style. His ministry touched the lives of millions of people throughout the USA and in many foreign countries.

Roloff was never shy about voicing his convictions. He opposed Baylor University’s plan to grant an honorary degree to President Harry Truman because of his frequent use of profanity. In 1950, he separated from the Southern Baptist Convention.

In 1969 Roloff became pastor of the People’s Church in Corpus Christi, Texas. Under his leadership, the church began an outreach ministry to troubled teens and adults under the blanket name, “The City of Refuge.”

Roloff’s homes included: Rebecca Home for Girls, Anchor Home for Boys, Lighthouse for Men and Boys, and the Jubilee Home for Women.

Roloff fought an eight-year battle with the state of Texas regarding licensure of his ministry. He refused to allow his church ministries to come under the control of the state.

“This is going to be the greatest day of my life,” Lester Roloff said to a friend as he flew off to a meeting on November 2, 1982. And truly that was his greatest day, for on it he completed his earthly journey and reached his heavenly Home.

The church and the homes he started were not ended by his death in a plane crash; they continue to this day.

Additional Information Links: http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=17018517


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Baptist.org Editorial Team

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Baptist.org is a dynamic community of people that is passionate about being Baptist. Authored by a team of Pastors, and laymen, the site focuses on a variety of topics of interest to Baptists. Since beginning in 1995, Baptist.org has over 5,000 unique visitors a month and continues to grow each week.


    The Roloff homes are not anything like they were when I was there. Bro. Roloff would be rolling in his grave if he could investigate the homes and people working there today. I would like to see supporters go down and make a thorough investigation, as well as have Independent Baptists TAKE ACTION TO GET IT BACK IN PROPER RUNNING CONDITION!

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  • Joanna Hannah

    I called Lester Roloff Homes as I needed help with my rebellious 15 yr. old son. I was referred to Anchor Home in Mo. I talked to Dennis McElwrath several times and explained to him the problems that I was having, but then decided not to take my son there as he seemed to be better. Dennis encouraged me to come and told me how this would bennifit my son. (I had explained to him that my son was asbergers and bipolar. He said that was no problem. So my husband and I drove a thousand miles to get him there and there seemed to be no problem. Dennis interviewed my son and told him to go down for a nap.(The other boys were napping, as it was Sunday). we signed papers and was ready to be on the way. Then it was like a complete change came over Dennis and he told me that I didn’t have some papers notorized and I would have to do that the next day. so I did. then he said he needed a release from my son’s doctor. we got that. then he kept coming up with other little things but he said the Holy Ghost told him not to take my son b/c that he didn’t feel that I had been honest, but could not come up with any lies or deceit. My concern is, there was no one to appeal to. No one was over Dennis. No one who could listen to what happened and be objective. This was truely a one man show as I tried to call so called board members that seemingly knew nothing of the school so could not disagree with Dennis. I intend to take this farther as we were not treated with respect and all but kicked out of there. Something was wrong…it was not on our end. we come from a good chruch (Trinity Baptist/Asheville, NC) with references of our charater. Anchor Homes should not be recommented until Dennis McElwrath has an active board of directors that can take a closer look at Dennis’s decisions and talk to each boy there individually. When I told him that I was going to call some board members…his reply was; “Go ahead. It won’t do you any good.” Something is very wrong with this picture.

  • disqus_7mJCcwzrx0

    NO ONE should donate to this ministry. They are criminals dressed up as christians. I spent 1 year @ Rebekah Home for girls and it was a total hell house ” HELL ON EARTH” they claim to be christians but I believe they turned out more people that became violent and non-functioning members of society because of all of the abuses that took place. NEVER send your children to this place if you truly love them.

  • ba

    I was in his mission, tx home as a 15 yr old boy.. we worked our ass off and got whipped when we went to the orchid for fruit.. they wanted us to work, but not feed us?