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John Philip Garvin

November 6, 2018


John Philip Garvin was born in Elyria, Ohio, March 18, 1928, the son of a Baptist minister. Mr. Garvin was eight years old when he asked Jesus Christ to come into his heart to be his Savior and Lord. From that time forward, the Lord blessed him with a love for playing Gospel music. He began taking piano lessons when he was fifteen years old. Mrs. Leary, mother-in-law of the well-known Mel Johnson, was Mr. Garvin’s first teacher. His next teachers were notable Gospel musicians: Maxine Takens and Lois Hatt, former WMBI radio organist.

Soon Mr. Garvin was asked to sing and play piano on The Children’s Bible Hour of Grand Rapids. Johnnie Hallett, pianist and composer for the radio program, was a very special inspiration for Mr. Garvin. In fact, when Johnnie Hallett resigned as pianist, Mr. Garvin took his place and many thought it was still Mr. Hallett playing!


During the Korean War, Mr. Garvin was stationed in Germany as chaplain’s assistant and played the piano for a traveling servicemen’s choir. Later, he served as a missionary in Europe for five years, where he played for Bible conferences.

Phil joined the ministry of Institute in Basic Life Principles in 1969, and served in various capacities for over forty-five years. The job title that he was most noted for was an unofficial one—“soul winner.” Phil was always ready to share the gospel with sales people, truck drivers, or repairmen who were visiting the Institute. He also gave lectures on how to present the Gospel to a stranger. His many years of experience are captured in the book, Fishing with Phil.


On Sunday afternoon, November 4th, our Lord brought Phil home to Glory. God only knows, and now Phil does, how many souls were brought into the Kingdom through his faithful witness.



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