Joel Hemphill Obituary

Joel Hemphill

Joel Hemphill

Joel’s speaking and preaching has uplifted and strengthened the faith of many. His years of Bible study and teaching have given him a powerful understanding of the Word of God.

Joel loves the Word of God. In his mind he judges every book, every song, every sermon that he heard by the Bible. If it does not stack-up with the truth of the Scriptures, he knows it. He is also very careful with his words in everyday conversation.

Led of God, Joel Hemphill came to more light and understanding about the One God of the Bible. In 2005 he wrote the book, To God be the Glory. That book is a must read for every person with an interest in the one true God and his Son Jesus Christ. Joel is the author of numerous other books and tracts including: Is the Holy Spirit A Third Person of God? and Should we pray to God the Father or our Savior Jesus?

The Early Years

Joel Hemphill was born in Fresno California on August 1, 1939 to Beatrice Brown Hemphill and Rev. W.T. Hemphill. Joel spent his childhood from the age of 5 in West Monroe, a small paper mill town in Northeast Louisiana where his father was founder and pastor of a local church. From his earliest memories, the music of the church was an important part of his life. Exciting, exuberant, heart-felt singing and preaching laid the foundation that Joel’s life is built on. Elder Hemphill, Joel’s father, a very compassionate and caring man, loved to sing. He sang when he was happy and he sang when he was sad. Even though he could not play the guitar, he owned the finest Martin and carried a guitar pick in his pocket at all times. He was always prepared to have one of his children, including Joel to play whenever he wanted to sing. Joel was raised in church by Godly parents. The Jesus Only Apostolic church was founded at that time by Joel’s dad and it became the heart-beat of Joel’s existence.

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Love for the Word of God became evident very early in Joel Hemphill’s life. Many nights Joel’s dad would come into his room to check on him just before going to sleep, and find nine year old Joel reading his Bible. Joel loved to read about the prophets of Israel, especially Elijah and Elisha and he loved reading about the kings, David, Solomon, etc. Joel Hemphill also had a keen understanding of the sequence of events. He could pretty well remember the order in which things occurred. His first Bible was one that his parents ordered from a radio preacher, with his name engraved in gold on the front. He was so excited to have his own Bible!

Joel Hemphill was saved and filled with the Holy Spirit when he was 10 years old. Brother Joe Duke was conducting a revival in Joel’s home church when he gave his heart to the Lord. In the 1940’s it wasn’t hard to get people to come to church. There were very few distractions to keep folk at home so most of these revivals were packed with people from all around. The services were uplifting, and the music was joyful and spiritual. People clapped their hands and worshiped with enthusiasm.

When Joel Hemphill was in his teens he became one of the church musicians playing the electric guitar and later, after answering his call into the ministry, became a young associate pastor serving under his father. On June 28, 1957, just one month before Joel’s 18 birthday and immediately following High School graduation, Joel Hemphill married LaBreeska Rogers after a brief courtship. LaBreeska was singing with her uncles Rusty & Howard Goodman and her aunt Vestal in an evangelistic team. Their travels had brought them from their home in Evansville, Indiana to northeast Louisiana holding numerous revivals in various towns including at Joel’s home church in West Monroe. Shortly after they married, Joel & LaBreeska began launching out into evangelism. Their singing, in addition to Joel’s preaching, became a very important part of Joel Hemphill’s ministry and helped to create a demand at out of state functions such as conferences, youth camps, camp-meetings and Christian School graduations.

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The Hemphill Family Years

While Joel and LaBreeska Hemphill began their ministry as an evangelistic preaching and singing team, they added new members and eventually included their children, Joey, Trent and Candy. The Hemphill family became one of the foremost groups in gospel music. They were renowned for their singing but also famous for the songs that they sang. Joel became one of the most respected songwriters in the world of Southern Gospel Music. The Hemphill’s received eight Dove Awards and Joel was nominated ten times by the Gospel Music Association as song writer of the year.

Among the well known songs which Joel penned have been such gospel music greats as: “Jesus Saves,” “He’s Still Workin’ On Me,” “Every Need Supplied,” “Master of the Wind,” “Consider the Lilies,” “I Claim the Blood,” “Let’s Have a Revival,” “The Only Real Peace,” and a host of other celebrated songs. The years the Hemphills traveled with their children forever enriched gospel music.

A Difficult Time

In 1990, the Hemphills children decided to pursue other interests and the group disbanded. Joel and LaBreeska’s ministry had come full circle and it was just the two of them once again, yet they were excited and looked forward to the challenges and opportunities this presented. However, just as they were about to start their new ministry in earnest, the greatest trial of their lives began. Joel was diagnosed with colon cancer and their ministry was suspended pending Joel’s recovery. The surgery was successful but prolonged complications began to take their toll and plummeted him into severe clinical depression, totally disabling him for over two years from his normal life and ministry.

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However, with the love, support and prayers of their many friends, Joel and LaBreeska saw a wonderful deliverance of God for Joel’s condition. On Sunday morning, November 8, 1992, while being prayed for by his Pastor and church, Joel received his complete healing. Crediting God for the miracle, Joel’s doctor says, “Prayer lifted his depression.” Although having written the song “Master of the Wind” years before, the lyrics now took on new meaning. “I know the Master of the Wind, I know the maker of the rain, He can calm the storm, Make the sun shine again, I know the Master of the Wind.” The Master of the Wind calmed Joel and LaBreeska’s storm and restored their ministry, empowering them with an awareness of His presence as never before.

The Best Years

Today, totally restored, Joel is now sharing his marvelous testimony to the awesome healing and restoration power of God. Since his healing some 18 years ago, Joel has written over 100 new gospel songs including, “I’d Like To Say It Again,” by the Cathedrals, “When Jesus Says It’s Enough,” by the Gaither Vocal Band and “Two Out of Three,” which was recorded by Charlie Daniels. They are frequent television guests and have appeared as regulars on the Gaither Homecoming videos. Their ministry of singing, preaching and recording continues with greater anointing than ever before.

With the benefit of seasoning and greater faith, Joel has now turned his attention back to his first love – God’s word. Bringing the word to the public through an amazing ministry of in person teachings, videos, tracts and books, Joel’s teaching is becoming sought after by congregations of many backgrounds.