Psalm 116:15 declares, “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.” Certainly the words are true for my dear long-time friend and mentor Dr.Morris Cerullo, the faithful, godly giant who blazed worldwide trails as evangelist, author, teacher, broadcaster, husband, and father.
Even as we grieve Dr. Cerullo’s passing from this earth, we rejoice at his home-going. My family and ministry staff are praying for his precious wife Theresa of 69 years, his son and daughter in law David and Barbara Cerullo, daughter Susan Peterson, 7 grandchildren, 9 great grandchildren., as well as the many other members of the Cerullo family and ministry staff.
We know that Psalm 37:23 declares that a person’s steps are “ordered by the Lord.” Certainly, this was true of his well-spent 88 years. In him, many generations around the world, including me, saw firsthand a model of courage, determination, ingenuity, integrity, godliness, love, and an unmistakable passion for ministering to the hurting, ill, and lost people.
Many might have discounted that youngster from a Russo-Jewish-Italian family after his mother passed away when he was only two years old and his barber father couldn’t take care of Morris and his siblings. The grieving father deposited all five children on the steps of a Jewish orphanage, respecting his late wife’s request that they be raised in the Jewish faith. Young Morris received Jesus Christ into his life at 14 with the guidance of a orphanage nurse. By 16, he was preaching the Gospel, fueled by a vision from God in which he witnessed people suffering in hell. He married his beloved Theresa in 1951, graduated from divinity school in 1953, was ordained soon afterward, and began ministering the Gospel of Jesus Christ with the demonstration of miracles, deliverances, and healings.
From his beginnings in New Jersey to his crusades, conferences, Schools of Ministry, “Papa,” as he was affectionally known, impacted many generations of students, ministers, churches, and believers around the world, encouraging faith, seeing hundreds of thousands receiving salvation and miracles breaking out as the power of God swept over the massive crowds. During 72 years of ministry, his outreaches impacted more than 400 cities, and 150 nations on 6 continents!
Included among his most imposing successes are his Victory Today daily and weekly television programs, more than 200 Christian books and study Bibles, and the Morris Cerullo Legacy International Center (San Diego, CA). His philanthropic efforts were widespread and effective, especially through medical assistance, orphanages, and humanitarian relief. Even more monumental, Dr. Cerullo personally trained more than five million Christian ministers face to face, an amazing legacy of faith that will continue for generations of leaders to come.
I can’t begin to imagine what my life would have been without the precious times I spent with “Papa.” I’ve never met anyone who was more on fire for the cause of Christ. The intensity of the flames that burned in his heart for the lost was contagious, and I never walked away from spending time with him without my life changed forever. He was always so gracious and supportive, especially for anything that advanced the cause of Christ. He was a shining light that seldom comes along, and his impact will be felt throughout eternity through the passion he poured into so many lives. Only in heaven will we begin to truly understand the full impact of this marvelous man of God!
I think of the historic standard he set for so many ministers to follow. Wherever I’ve traveled around the world, I was often reminded of the sacrifices he made during the early years of his ministry. Dr. Cerullo faced such tremendous opposition, yet kept following God’s direction. Our Lord used him and his precious wife Theresa to pioneer overseas ministries and open many countries that were once considered closed to the Gospel. The churches they started continue to be used mightily.
I always admired Dr. Cerullo’s passion for the lost. The fact that he never slowed down in his zeal for fulfilling the Great Commission is even more of a reason for my admiration. I pray as I long as I draw breath, that God will give me the energy and ever-evolving passion as my dear friend embodied!
Though bittersweet for us who remain, Dr. Morris Cerullo’s earthly journey is now complete, and we can only imagine the reception and rejoicing in heaven among the vast multitudes who were received Christ and learned to live a godly life because of his faithfulness to his calling that came at such an early age!
While I join his loved ones and believers around the globe in shedding tears as we mourn the loss of this great trailblazer of the faith, I also celebrate the reunion in heaven with his family, friends, and with the Lord Jesus whom my brother in Christ served so faithfully during his memorable lifetime!