Dr. Jack Hayford, founder and chancellor emeritus of The King’s University (TKU) and Seminary (TKS), passed away on Sunday, January 8, 2023, in his home in the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles, California. He was 88 years old. His family said he died peacefully in his sleep in the early hours of the morning.
In addition to founding TKU in 1997, he was the founding pastor of The Church On The Way in Van Nuys, California, President of The Foursquare Church from 2004 to 2009, bestselling author of more than 50 books, and wrote more than 500 songs, including “Majesty.”
I had only been president of The King’s University for 17 days when I met our founder, Pastor Jack Hayford. As we pulled up to his house on a cool, sunny day in Southern California, I knew this day would be as legendary as the man I was about to meet.
After a few hours of enlightening and inspiring conversation by a warm fire, he gave me a tour of his house. I kept my eyes peeled for all of the awards, acknowledgements and artifacts I imagined I would find, but which unsurprisingly were not on display in this humble man’s home. What I did notice was an abundance of mortars and pestles. When I asked about them, he began to tell me the story that would give me a revelation of the heart behind TKU.
When Jack Hayford was growing up, he wanted to be a pharmacist. He even had a mortar and pestle set to serve as a symbol and directive for his future. Jack envisioned how, as a pharmacist, he would use an empty mortar as the vessel in which medicine would be measured out and crushed up by the pestle—the finished product to be poured out as medicine to heal the sick. But God had other plans. In a moment of redirection, God told him he was not going to be a pharmacist in the way he had originally planned. Yet the mortar and pestle would still be a perfect illustration of what his life would become.
Before he could be used, Pastor Jack had to first be emptied out. He thought he was to be a pharmacist, but God had other plans. We come to God with our plans of how we think life will look only to discover that God is attracted to empty vessels. God was attracted to the empty ditches in 2 Kings 3. He poured oil into the empty vessels in 2 Kings 4. Many of the disciples were challenged to drop their nets and follow Christ empty handed.
After being emptied out, Pastor Jack was measured out. Yes, a mortar was going to be involved in his future. After being emptied out, Christ began to fill him with every good and perfect gift he would need to carry out his destiny. Likewise, we are being measured out for our destiny. God is putting things in us that we will need. Our weaknesses, hang-ups, and shortcomings are all a part of God’s prescription.
Pastor Jack, like the medicine in a mortar, was crushed up. As I heard him share the word he had received, that God would put him in the mortar and crush him up for a purpose, I began to see the beauty in the crushing. We see this word as a negative, but we must remember that the finest wines are made in the crushing of the wine press. The purist oils are discovered only through the crushing of the olive. In fact, the great gift of salvation was only presented to us through the crushing of our Lord and Savior (Isaiah 53:5). We all should go through pressure, strain, and discomfort as we prepare for our ministries.
Finally, Pastor Jack was poured out. This was the part of his life we all saw. This is the dozens of books and hundreds of hymns written. This is The King’s University. This is The Church On The Way. This is Jack Hayford Ministries. The packed pews and overflowing hearts. The hundreds of thousands of lives changed by Christ through Pastor Jack.
As our day finished, I asked Pastor Jack if he would pray about giving me something to put in my office at TKU. This “something” would become a part of every discussion, debate and decision. Pastor Jack stood there in his office, looking around at the work of his hands, peered right at me and said, “Jon, I do not need to pray about that. I am going to walk out of this office, and I want you to pick anything that you want and take it home with you.” What else would I possibly grab but a mortar and pestle from a shelf filled with them?
So, here it sits in my office. A constant reminder to every one of us, from myself to Pastor Robert Morris and the Board of Trustees, to every student that walks through our doors, that like our late founder, we must know this rhythm of discovering our purpose. To be emptied out, measured out, and crushed up, so that we may be poured out as medicine to a lost and hurting world.
And today, this object takes on yet another meaning. It represents Pastor Jack, a man whose service to God on earth may have ended, but who I believe is now hearing these words: Well done, good and faithful servant.