Jack T. Chick was born in Boyle Heights, California, on April 13th, 1924.
He was fortunate not to come from a broken family. His dad and mom, Thomas and Pauline, stayed married till death and his dad was a hard worker who provided for his family.
But Jack didn't come from a loving family, either —at least, not to him. His sister, Doris, seemed to receive the affection. He told me his mom hardly ever spoke to him. His dad only spoke to him about work and things that interested him.
From early childhood, it was obvious that Jack had an ability to draw. He even failed the first grade because he was so busy drawing airplanes in battle. As he grew, Jack was constantly drawing, and honing skills that God would later use in a great way.
Another talent Jack had was acting and public speaking. From his junior year at Alhambra High School, he was involved in several school plays and was quite good at it.
The yearbook review said, "Jack Chick was outstanding in his portrayal of Karl Gunther."
It seemed that he was fast becoming a successful actor. So it is no wonder that he won a scholarship to the famous Pasadena Playhouse. Jack took his first semester and started his second.
But on February 1, 1943 he was given a formal invitation to join the US Army, which also suspended his acting career, for awhile that is.
So, at the age of 18, Jack was drafted —In the middle of World War II.
He spent the next three years in the Army, which took him overseas to countries like New Guinea, Australia, the Philippines and Japan.
Jack signed up to go to another unit, for any duty to get him out of where he was stuck. But he was never assigned to any other unit.
Of course, that saved his life.
Almost everyone he knew who went into battle was eventually killed. But in his whole enlistment, Jack never saw battle, not even once. Jack was never fired at and never so much as saw a gun being fired at an enemy.
Jack's assignment was cryptography (the art of writing or solving codes). So just like his army buddies, Jack sat around and worked and talked and smoked —a habit he later gave up.
Jack rose to the rank of Sergeant before he was discharged on January 28, 1946.
After being discharged from the service, Jack returned to the Playhouse, where he met and married his wife, Lola Lynn Priddle. She was instrumental in his salvation.
Jack gets saved!
While visiting Lola's parents in Canada on their honeymoon, Jack's mother-in-law insisted that he sit and listen to Charles E. Fuller's Old Fashioned Revival Hour radio program.
Jack recalls, "God was already working on my heart, but when Fuller said, "Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow," those words shot right through my soul and brought me to repentance.
So that night on his honeymoon, Sunday night at 8:30 PM, right after the radio broadcast, Jack went into the kitchen and cried out to God to save him.
And He did!
Once married, Jack used his artistic talents to earn a living. He knew it would be very hard to make enough money to support a family by drawing comics.
So in 1953, Jack got a job doing advertising art and other graphic work for Aerojet-General Corporation, an aerospace company in Azusa, about 20 miles northeast of Los Angeles.
Aerojet created rocket engines and greatly assisted in WWII with the invention of the JATO (Jet-Assisted-Take-Off) engine. Jack drew advertising mockups for the JATO rocket to help sell the idea to various government buyers.
But Jack didn't think only of his day job and his family. He still wanted to draw comic art.
While at work one day in El Monte, California, Jack was sitting in his car reading a copy of "Power From On High" by Charles Finney, that an old welder had given him. He remembers, "That book pushed my button. I went to church and saw all the deadness and hypocrisy, and I thought, 'that's why there's no revival.'
"So I started making these little sketches. My burden was so heavy to wake Christians up to pray for revival."
He couldn't find a publisher who was willing to print his first book, so Jack borrowed $800 from the credit union and paid for the first printing of "Why No Revival?". It was more of a critique of the church than a gospel tract.
Right after the book was printed, he was driving down the road, when his eyes were drawn to a group of teens on the sidewalk. Jack remembers, "At the time, I didn't like teenagers or their rebellion. But, all of a sudden, the power of God hit me and my heart broke and I was overcome with the realization that these teens were probably on their way to hell.
"With tears pouring down my face, I pulled my car off the road and wrote as fast as I could, as God poured a story into my mind."
Within 15 minutes, "A Demon's Nightmare" was written. After going home and drawing the art, Jack Chick's very first soul-winning gospel tract was completed.
Now, where would he get the money to pay for the printing?
Jack went to his boss, George Otis, a Christian man, who had just recently bought the company.
First, he gave a copy of "Why No Revival?" to George's secretary. Later, George called Jack into his office. He said to Jack, "My mother-in-law said you're a man of God and I should help you on your next printing."
Jack didn't even have to ask! God already had it all arranged.
Jack also would meet people at Christian Businessmen's meetings where he visited and spoke.
One day, Bob Hammond, missionary broadcaster of The Voice of China and Asia, told Jack that multitudes of Chinese people had been won to Communism through mass distribution of cartoon booklets. Jack felt that God was leading him to use the same technique to win multitudes to the Lord Jesus Christ.
"THIS WAS YOUR LIFE!"
Not long after, he was invited to present the gospel to a group of inmates at a prison near his home. He drew several pieces of cartoon art and prepared a flip chart to illustrate what he was saying. At the conclusion of his message, nine of the eleven inmates present trusted Christ as their Saviour.
Jack became convinced that God had given him a method of reaching people with the gospel that worked. So, using the art from the flip chart, Jack published the story as his fourth book and called it, "This Was Your Life!"
This tract was Jack's most popular title and is recognized around the world. It's been translated into over 100 languages.
Jack continued writing new tracts as God gave them to him. Throughout the rough early years, he persevered as many bookstores were reluctant to accept his revolutionary concept.
Jack recalls, "We were having a tough time out there. A lot of the bookstores were really outraged at some guy using these cartoons to present the gospel. They thought it was sacrilegious."
But demand for the tracts increased, and Chick Publications was formed as a self-supporting publishing ministry.
For over fifty years, the work has flourished. Jack Chick has written and published over 200 illustrated gospel tracts in more than one hundred different languages. Hundreds of millions of copies have been printed and read world-wide.
We frequently receive testimonies from Christians who say they were saved after reading a Chick tract or that they were an important part in their Biblical education.
To the world, Jack Chick was an enigma. Some cast him as a purveyor of hate, angrily consigning all rotten sinners to a burning hell. To his friends, however, he was generous to a fault. But anyone attempting to divert his life calling met a steely resolve.
One pastor summed up the life and ministry of Jack Chick like this: "The thing I appreciate most about Jack Chick is that years ago when I read my first Chick tract, it was a pure soul winning tract, presenting the gospel in a simple format anyone could understand. Today, years later, he hasn't changed a bit. While many other Christian leaders have left soul winning far behind, Chick is still faithfully producing soul winning gospel tracts with a salvation message anyone can understand. He has never strayed from his calling to share the gospel with the lost."
Jack Chick passed away peacefully in his sleep on Sunday evening, October 23, 2016. He was 92.
All of us at Chick Publications loved Jack and we were fortunate to see what kind of person he was on a daily basis —some people served the Lord with him for over 45 years!
Jack Chick passed on to a magnificent reward but he planned for this day and assembled a staff of likeminded believers.
The vision God gave him will go on. We are privileged to continue it. Soul winners have been handing out his tracts for over 50 years and coming back for more. Chick Publications will continue to make these no-nonsense gospel tracts available to help you seed your neighborhoods.
Please pray for us as we continue to spread the same vision, the same purpose, by the same method, to the ends of the earth.