Institute in Basic Life Principles

Giving the World a "New" Approach to Life!

John Philip Garvin

March 18, 1928 to November 4, 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!


Second from the left is Phil, the pianist for The Children’s Bible Hour boys’ quartet called “The Nephews.” (Source: From the July 1945 CBH News.)

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.




Brenda Haas Hundley

Mr. Garvin was one of the most tender-hearted people I've known, which I think made him perfect as a musician and soul-winner. I've never seen anyone more concerned about the condition of people's souls.

Jonathan Wedel

There are few people that I have met who have left a lasting impact on me to the point where I remember specific things they said and did as an example to follow to this day. Mr. Garvin is one of those precious few. I can hear his melodic voice and contagious enthusiasm for soul-wining and by that I mean “wining over someone with the claims of the Gospel.” He was bold because he cared a lot about people’s destiny. He often shared that he prayed specifically each day that God would lead him that day to that special person God was speaking to about their eternal destiny. And God answered his simple prayer, sometimes in surprising ways and other times in rather ordinary ways. I thank God to have known Mr. Garvin and for his passionate witness to the claims of the Gospel to reach anyone, anytime and in any place by God’s grace.

Alan Cooke

It was such a blessing to work with Mr. Garvin. He was so very kind and always had time for the people around him. He had such an amazing understanding of witnessing and had such clear and simple ways to share the gospel. I haven't seen him for more than 20 years, but his advice and wisdom are still clear in my mind. His eternal homecoming must have been so exciting!

Allen Armbruster

Mr. Garvin was a great encouragement to me ! We had never met in person, (unless briefly at a Seminar), but through a number of phone calls, it was clear that he was a Brother who "knew the Lord", a man who "walked with God" !! At times the call was brief, as Phil was about to hang the sign on his door, "Gone fishing" -- for men !!! Our Condolences + every encouragement in the Lord to Mrs. Garvin, and to all of you at IBLP..... from friends in Canada.

Add new comment