Much of this article was adapted from an original interview with Sam Cathey by Karen Brewer, publisher of The Christian View Magazine.
OKLAHOMA — Dr. Sam Cathey died in his home on Tuesday afternoon after an extended illness. He was a renowned evangelist, Bible conference preacher, pastor, and mentor. His influence and the impact of his life touched the hearts of multiplied thousands of people through the years since he preached his first sermon in 1950. In his sermons he could denunciate sin with the fervor of the most vociferous evangelist, but always offered a message of grace that could warm even the heart of those thought to be incorrigible.
Cathey was the last of 13 children, but at age 17 was called to pastor his first church, the newly-established Grace Mission near Camden, AR. The first person he led to Christ was his own father. After preaching a sermon on the radio Cathey returned home to find his father, 76 and crippled from a stroke, sitting by the radio after having listened to his sermon.
Sam recalled, “I knelt by his chair and presented Christ to him, and he gave his heart to Jesus. The next day, he walked the aisle in the First Baptist Church and that night was baptized. Four years later, he died to go meet the Lord.”
Cathey served as pastor of churches in Arkansas, Michigan, and Oklahoma before being called into vocational evangelism in 1967.
Cathey said that his years as a pastor helped prepare him for evangelism. “No man ought to be an evangelist until he has pastored,” he said. “You’ve got to know churches. You’ve got to know how they think. You’ve got to know how they feel. And you’ve got to know a pastor’s heart.”
In addition to preaching in hundreds of revivals, Cathey preached in more than 100 state Baptist convention pastors’ conferences and evangelism conferences. He served as president of Morningside Ministries and past-president of the National Conference of Southern Baptist Evangelists. He has authored five books and has written for several periodicals.
Cathey said that the blessings of being in the ministry include “seeing God touch people’s lives, seeing God save people, and seeing God reveal to people how to think and how to live and understand the sovereignty of God and understand that the providence of God controls our life and that there’s no such thing as luck.
“I tell everybody that God’s got it rigged. You might as well do it God’s way, because He’s got it rigged. It’s going to happen the way He wants it to happen. That doesn’t destroy human responsibility. In my judgment, it augments it, because my knowing that God’s got something going tells me to get in on it. God takes bad things and works them to good. But He’s not surprised. He knows the end from the beginning.”
Sam Cathey was born in Camden, AR in 1934. He received his education in the public schools of Camden, Ouachita Baptist University, Southern Seminary, and Immanuel Baptist Seminary. He is married to Lucille Lawson Cathey, of Hazard, KY. They have three daughters.
There will be a Celebration of Life Service for Dr. Cathey on Friday, March 11, at 10:30 a.m. at Graceway Baptist Church, 1100 SW 104th St., Oklahoma City, OK. Wayne Robertson, pastor of Morningside Baptist Church in Valdosta where the Catheys were members for years, will bring the memorial message. The service will be live streamed from gracewayokc.org.