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Long before Don Wilton was born in South Africa, God had a specific purpose for him to be set apart as a preacher of the gospel, a pastor, and an author far away in the United States of America. He grew up attending boarding school where even as a young boy he felt the call of ministry and was busy preaching the gospel to the nearby tribesmen. Many times he rode his horse into the hills of Zululand with a small wind-up record player and played a recording of the gospel in the native language of Zulu. After graduating high school and serving the required year in the South African Military as a tank commander, he enrolled in Rhodes University in South Africa where he met and married Karyn Bolton Wilton. After graduating from college they continued to feel God’s call on their lives for ministry, and they sold everything they owned, packed two suitcases, and headed for the United States of America to attend seminary and prepare for the gospel ministry.
Dr. Wilton graduated from the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and is the recipient of six earned academic degrees. He went on to serve there as the Associate Professor of Evangelistic Preaching for a number of years, as well as pastoring a nearby church. Dr. Wilton accepted God’s call in 1993 to be the Senior Pastor of First Baptist Spartanburg.
In addition to serving at a downtown thriving mega-church, Dr. Wilton is the founder and president of The Encouraging Word television and broadcast ministry. The Encouraging Word is aired on TBN, DAYSTAR, CTN and numerous other stations—with the potential to reach households in numerous countries around the world. The ministry also distributes a highly sought after daily devotional called The Daily Encouraging Word.
Along with writing manuals, articles, reviews for the Southern Baptist Convention, and publications such as Preaching and Decision Magazines, he is the author of a number of books, devotionals and Bible study guides. Dr. Wilton hosts Christian teaching tours to the Holy Land with each tour being focused on a different area—including Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Rome, Turkey, and Greece.
Dr. Wilton had the deep honor and privilege of serving as Dr. Billy Graham’s pastor. They remained close friends for many years. Dr. Wilton is also a frequent speaker for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association Schools of Evangelism and at The Cove. In his introduction to Dr. Wilton’s book, Totally Secure, the evangelist said:
Don's expository preaching at the First Baptist Church of Spartanburg, South Carolina, and by means of The Encouraging Word broadcast ministry has been a great blessing to me.–Billy Graham
Prior to Dr. Graham's passing and for almost 25 years, Dr. Wilton would visit with him on a weekly basis as they would encourage and pray for one another. Dr. Wilton would often share his sermon for the coming week with Dr. Graham and he would give insightful feedback that was greatly cherished.
Dr. Wilton’s ministry has been hallmarked by his strong expository preaching of the absolute truth from God’s Word. He often says, “I have nothing to say apart from God’s Word.” His ability to pull those around him together in unity and love has characterized his leadership. As a result of these characteristics, he is in great demand as a Bible expositor and preaches literally around the world in crusades, revivals, evangelism conferences, state conventions, and on seminary campuses.
Don and Karyn were both brought up in godly pastors’ homes, and as a result they have passed on the rich heritage of ministry to their three grown children and eight grandchildren. Karyn leads the Women’s Ministry at First Baptist Spartanburg and is a strong supporter, encourager, and helpmate in ministry. Don enjoys reading, golfing, fishing and watching football, rugby, and cricket. He loves spending as much time as possible with his family.