Hyman Jedidiah Appleman, 1902-1983, Evangelist
AUTHOR: Unknown
PUBLISHED ON: March 13, 2003
PUBLISHED IN: Biographies

Hyman Jedidiah Appelman{SCT} BORN: January 7, 1902
Moghiliev, (White) Russia
DIED: May 29, 1983
Kansas City, Missouri
LIFE SPAN: 81 years, 4 months, 22 days
{SCT}whose ministry has been as effective, far reaching and productive
as that of this converted Jew. He actually helped spearhead the
modern-day swing to mass evangelism, as his city-wide endeavors
in the early forties whipped up enthusiasm for evangelism that
was all but forgotten since the era of Billy Sunday, Mordecai Ham
and Bob Jones, Sr.
     He was born on the banks of the Dnieper River in White
Russia of Orthodox Jewish parents. He was reared and trained in
the Jewish faith by a strict grandfather and grandmother. One
time as a boy he was thrown from a horse with the horse stamping
on him and almost killing him. For days he wore a kind of strait
jacket. He always remembered the day it was taken off and what a
relief that was. He later described his salvation experience as
the same type of relief from the bondage of sin.
     His father had come to America one a half years prior to the
rest of the family. Arriving with his mother and three younger
brothers in December, 1914, Hyman knew Hebrew, and had a fair
command of German, Russian, Yiddish and Polish. Now, he had to
learn English. He was enrolled in the Hans Christian Andersen
Public School in Chicago. He was a thirteen-year-old boy weighing
almost 150 pounds and had to sit in one of the small first-grade
seats. Despite the handicap of learning a new language he went
through the first eight grades in two years with high marks, then
went on to preparatory school.
     Eventually he enrolled at Northwestern University where he
received his A.B. Degree, and also at DePaul University where he
received his LL.B. Degree, attending both schools from 1918-1921.
He graduated from DePaul University as one of the highest in the
class and was awarded a scholarship. He received his license to
practice law in 1921 and was a successful trial lawyer in Chicago
from 1921 to 1925. The two-year scholarship that he received
allowed him to attend evening classes, and in those three years
(1921-1923) he received his LL.M. Degree. In 1922 one of the
professors at DePaul University died and Appelman was invited to
teach his academy classes. Thus he was teaching school, attending
school, and practicing law. His father was now in a building
business and turned over his legal business to his son. At this
time Appelman was not very religious, although he was not what
you would call irreligious or non-religious. He belonged to a
synagogue, attending three times a year, was engaged to marry a
young Jewish girl, did not drink or gamble, but had no contact
with the New Testament. This type of life produced a discontented
unhappiness in his heart for which he could find no satisfaction.
He tried to drown it in work and more work. He became a
     In the fall of 1924 he almost had a breakdown. He was
finally able to go back to the office on a limited basis. One
night when he came home, he found a conference with father,
mother, brother, law partner and family doctor in progress. They
all said that he needed to take a vacation. He decided he would
like to go west, so he left in December, 1924.
     His first destination was Kansas City. He checked into the
YMCA intending to see Rabbi Silbert in a day or two. Being
Saturday (Jewish sabbath), he was in the lobby of the YMCA,
engaging in an argument that lasted from 4 to 10 p.m. Later that
night an elderly man knocked on his door and introduced himself
as Daly, a reporter for the Kansas City Star. Daly had been in
the argument downstairs. For one hour Daly witnessed to Appelman
about the Lord Jesus Christ. He left after he got Appelman to
promise to read the New Testament. Hyman saw a Gideon Bible and
opened it. Once before, while in Chicago, he remembered walking
by a street meeting and hearing one phrase as he rapidly passed
by, a phrase he never forgot: “If a man wanted religion in a
hurry, he should read John.” Appelman, assuming it must be
somewhere in the New Testament, found it, and read about five
lines. At 8 a.m. someone knocked at the door. The man identified
himself as Mr. Garrett, then asked Hyman to go to Sunday School
with him. Appelman didn’t have the heart to say no, so he
attended the Institutional Methodist Church in Kansas City. After
the Sunday School hour was over, Garrett said, “Would you mind
staying for church?” Appelman agreed and attended his first
Protestant Church service of any kind. He had been to a few
Catholic services previously and was surprised to see no
decorations, pictures, statues, crosses, holy water, robes, quiet
organ music. His thought was, “Don’t these people have any
religion at all?” He had never seen a choir loft, a big pulpit
Bible, a preacher without a robe. He endured the service,
although it made no sense to him. He then went to the Rabbi’s
     Hyman traveled with several members of his family to visit
other kinfolk in St. Louis, back to Kansas City, and then on to
Omaha and Denver in March, 1925. He dropped from 213 to 151
pounds in less than four months. He saw one of the secretaries at
the local YMCA where he was staying, Mr. Durrett, and asked where
he could find a good doctor. The secretary said he couldn’t help
him, but told him about his church across the street, Central
Christian Church of Denver, and advised him to counsel with the
pastor, Dr. James E. Davis. This was the largest Christian church
in the Disciples of Christ denomination of that time.
     Appelman crossed the street and met Dr. Davis. The
conversation started at about 3 p.m. and lasted past midnight.
Finally Dr. Davis told him, “You don’t need a doctor, my boy, you
need the Lord Jesus Christ!” Dr. Davis thoroughly explained the
whole truth of the Saviour, and Appelman drank it in. The
preacher dropped to his knees, put his arm around Appelman and
began to pray with a tender, broken voice, great tears coursing
down his cheeks. The devil was losing the fight. The battle was
mostly centered around the fact that his parents, four brothers
and sister–being Jews–would have their hearts broken if Hyman
became a Christian, but the preacher refused to surrender his
soul to the enemy.
     Appelman, upon hearing Romans 10:9, asked for it to be
explained. Finally, through clenched teeth, he said, “Lord, I do
not know, and I do not understand, but this man says and this
Book says that Your Son died for my sins, and that if I ask You
to, for His sake, You will forgive my sins. Lord, for Jesus’
sake, do forgive my sins.”
     The two stood to their feet, and Appelman said, “What must I
do next?” Baptism was discussed and was agreed upon for the next
Sunday morning. He and another young man came forward to publicly
confess Christ, and he was baptized. He walked to the nearest
Western Union office and sent a telegram home, “I’m a Christian,
I’ve been baptized, I’ve joined the church. I’m praying for you.”
He was twenty-three years old.
     A reply came back the same day: “Come on home.” During that
week he received at least a dozen telegrams and letters. The next
week his sweetheart came, but she refused to stay in Denver, so
she went back to Chicago. Their engagement was ended.
     His conversion naturally had created a stir in Jewish
circles, and he became an outcast from his family. Because his
family shunned him, he wanted to stay in Denver to learn more
about the Bible before going back to his kinfolk for a
confrontation. He remained in Denver until August, finding odd
jobs to support himself. In addition, he began to give his
testimony and preach. The first Sunday in August, he preached the
morning and evening messages in the church where he was converted
while the pastor was on vacation. That night he received a
telegram from home saying his mother was dying. He took the first
train home. But when he arrived, he learned that his father had
faked the message to get Hyman home and to plead with him to
reconsider his ways. When Appelman refused, the father with
indignation and wrath said, “When your sides come together from
hunger and you come crawling to my door, I will throw you a crust
of bread as I would any other dog.”
     Appelman took the first train east. He got a job with the
Reading Railroad in Camden, New Jersey, but things did not go
well, and he began to backslide. He worked there until November,
1925, then decided to return to Chicago. He was so depressed
about his life and his alienation from his family that he decided
to commit suicide by swimming out into Lake Michigan as far as he
could, then just drown.
     At Pittsburgh, on his way back to Chicago, there was a
layover between trains. Walking the streets during the layover,
he saw a recruiting sign of the United States Army on the front
of the Post Office building. Hyman decided to enlist on the spot,
thinking this might give him an alternative to ending it all. He
was sent to Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, D.C., where he
was to serve in the medical department for three years, and
arrived on Sunday. He went to a building marked “YMCA Hut” and,
walking in the wrong door, found himself in the parlor where a
Mr. Howard, the “Y” secretary, was teaching a Sunday School
class. He told Mr. Howard his story, and was soon introduced to
the chaplain, a Lutheran preacher. The chaplain got him
interested in teaching a class at the large Gospel Mission in
Washington. It was at this mission he met Verna Cook, the girl
who later became his wife. She was teaching a class of girls. He
was promoted and made a staff sergeant, worked for a while with
the sick and wounded officers, then was made mess sergeant.
Discharged, he had no place to go, so he reenlisted for a second
term in the service. He was sent to a station hospital in Fort
Sill, Oklahoma, near Lawton. He transferred his membership from
the Temple Baptist Church in Washington to the Central Baptist
Church of Lawton, in December, 1927, and began to teach in Sunday
School. By November, 1928, Appelman was preaching, sometimes in
uniform and sometimes in civilian clothes. He held a revival
meeting near Lawton, in a little schoolhouse called Woodlawn.
Every unsaved person in that entire district was converted, the
church was reorganized, and Appelman was called to be the pastor.
This was in March, 1930.
     Because the Southern Baptists do not accept alien immersion,
he was baptized again and ordained May 30 at the Central Baptist
Church of Lawton, Oklahoma, pastored by S.R. McClung. When hands
were laid on him, he surrendered everything he had to the Lord
and purchased his discharge from the Army in August, 1930.
     On September 4, 1930, he married Verna Cook, of Livermore
Falls, Maine. Feeling a definite call to the ministry he went to
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas
from 1930 to 1933, where he received his theological training.
His wife attended the same seminary and received an M.D. degree
in Religious Education. Appelman later received an honorary D.D.
degree from the Western Baptist Theological Seminary of Portland,
Oregon. In addition to his small church at Woodlawn, he was
called to be a pastor of another church nearby and pastored both
from September 1930 until April, 1931. This meant he drove 190
miles each weekend, except when he was in revival meetings
elsewhere. In April, 1931, he held a revival in the Baptist
church of Vickery, Texas. A short time after that the pastor
resigned, and Appelman was called to head up the work. He
pastored there until May of 1934.
     It was in December, 1933, that Dr. J. Howard Williams, the
state secretary for the Texas Baptist Convention, told Appelman
that he was elected to be one of the state evangelists for Texas.
He held that position until January of 1942, faithfully
ministering for eight years in end-on-end crusades for the
Southern Baptist Convention. However, as he was becoming
nationally known, he felt the call of God for a larger ministry.
Resigning, he launched into single church meetings, cooperative
campaigns, city- and county-wide crusades across the country, and
soon was spending some time each year in a foreign country.
     In January, 1942, he held his first large crusade in
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where at the invitation of more than
200 churches, he preached for three weeks in Town Hall, and later
in Convention Hall. Under the organizing guidance of Horace Dean,
the meetings brought salvation to some 2,700 in the three-week
crusade, with total decisions of all kinds over the 5,000 figure.
In 1944, he was in a great tent revival in Los Angeles,
California, sponsored by the various churches and Christian
Business Men’s Committees of that area. Crowds numbered 7,000 to
8,000 with 2,500 conversions in the three-week crusade. In 1948
(January 11-February 1) in Detroit, Michigan, he had 2,700
professions of faith in a city-wide endeavor. Other memorable
crusades included Danville, Illinois in March of 1950 with 1,061
first-time decisions in two weeks, followed by a good San
Francisco, California meeting. in Decatur, Illinois, in 1951
there were 3,300 decisions in three weeks. After preaching a
devastating sermon against Communism one night in Decatur, his
tent burned down. This event seemed to help bring out a crowd of
6,000 for the next service. In Portsmouth, Virginia, in 1964, he
had 1,700 professions of faith in a three-week city-wide
endeavor. He conducted over 25 crusades in the city of Dallas
alone. Many were conducted in Fort Worth, and at least a dozen in
Houston, Texas. At least fifteen revivals were held in Oklahoma
City, Oklahoma. Over 50 crusades were held in California,
including Stockton and Oakland crusades. City-wide crusades were
conducted in such places as Mobile and Montgomery, Alabama;
Phoenix, Arizona; Denver, Colorado; Tampa and St. Petersburg,
Florida; Rockford, Illinois; Evansville, Gary and Hammond,
Indiana; Louisville, Kentucky; Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Lansing
and Holland, Michigan; St. Louis, Missouri; Cleveland, Ohio;
Portland, Oregon; Altoona, Pennsylvania; Bristol, Tennessee; El
Paso, Texas; Lynchburg, Virginia; and Seattle, Washington, to
name just a few.
     His overseas ministries took him to such places as Australia
in 1948 where for six months with song evangelist Homer Britton a
mighty revival took place. Some 9,600 professions of faith were
witnessed in some of the largest auditoriums in the land. He
spent three months of 1951 in Great Britain, and some time in
Mexico City, Mexico in 1952 with 200 being saved the first night
of the crusade there. In 1955 he saw some 3,000 decisions made in
a Guatemala campaign with crowds of 3,000 to 7,000 attending
nightly. In 1957 he returned to the land of his birth to preach,
which took him to a number of places in the Soviet Union. In
1959, he conducted campaigns in Northern Ireland, Greece,
Portugal, Spain, Germany, France, Holland and Russia. In 1960 he
saw 1,350 first-time decisions in a one-month ministry in Mexico
City and Pachuca, Mexico. In 1962 there 2,700 decisions in 23
days in Dominica and Trinidad. In 1969-70 (December to February)
he saw 5,879 first-time decisions in the states of Madras and
Kerala in India. In the fifties, he also ministered in Germany,
Poland, Costa Rica, Finland, Nicaragua, Switzerland, Sweden and
Canada. In the sixties, such places as Korea, Japan, Israel,
Syria, Taiwan, Egypt, Jordan, Indonesia, Singapore, and Hong Kong
were visited.
     He was eight times around the world and made three trips to
Russia as an evangelist–in 1957, 1959 and 1963.
     His 40th year of evangelistic meetings in 1974 had 48
campaigns in nineteen states. He spent 51 weeks of the year on
the road. The test of a competent evangelist is being invited
back to be with those whom he had been with previously, and
Appelman always had a good share of repeat meetings like this.
Decisions in 1975 were 9,809, with 4,158 uniting for church
     During his life, Appelman’s schedule of meetings left one
breathless. It was hard to find a day in 45 years when he was not
preaching somewhere. An average Appelman year would see some
7,000 first-time professions of faith. By 1969 he had seen over
345,000 total decisions for Christ, with some 270,000 uniting
with churches and over 125,000 rededications by Christians. With
the day of city-wide crusades waning, Appelman, in his last years
on the earth, became a local church evangelist, but his results
in single-church meetings were just as large.
     He had numerous song leaders traveling with him: Homer
Britton, Chelsea Stockwell, Stratton Shufelt, John Troy, Garland
Cofield, and Ellis Zehr.
     Ellis Zehr recalls some of the blessings of his association
from 1959 to 1964. He states that wherever Appelman went, men
have turned to Christ through his ministry. He was able to
communicate well even through interpreters. In street meetings in
Trinidad people repeated after him in one grand chorus, “Lord, I
know I am a sinner and Christ died for me. Save me for Jesus’
sake.” A pastor in Indianapolis tells that prayer meetings
doubled the year following Appelman’s meetings. A New York pastor
recalls baptizing 100 Appelman converts who continued on in their
service for Christ. Besides Zehr’s recollections, church after
church testify of the increase. Beth Haven Baptist Church of
Louisville, Kentucky, reported a week with Appelman produced 198
first-time professions, and in the two months following, Sunday
School increased by nearly 300. Pastor James Stuart of the First
Baptist Church of Concord, New Hampshire, sums up what most
pastors say after Appelman has been to a city:
“This has been the greatest single week in the 140 years’ history
of this church. The Appelman meetings have drawn larger crowds,
more visitors, have seen more decisions for Christ than any
campaign of any kind ever held here. This morning we have more
people present than in any one service at any time before.”
The fact of the matter was that Appelman created this kind of a
response. His prayer life, hard work and Biblical preaching
reminded one of the Apostle Paul.
     Appelman spent his last days on earth as a member of the Red
Bridge Baptist Church of Kansas City, the city where he lived.
His children are Edgar, born in 1937, and Rebecca, born in 1938.
     Death came to Hyman Appelman at home on May 29, 1983, of
heart disease.
     His forty-two books were published by Zondervan, Revell and
Baker. Titled included, Formula for Revival, Ye Must Be Born
Again, God’s Answer to Man’s Sin, The Savior’s Invitation, Come
Unto Me, Appelman’s Sermon Outlines and Illustrations, Will the
Circle Be Broken? Effective Outlines and Illustrations, The
Gospel of Salvation, Here Is Your Revival, Crossing the Deadline,
and others.
     In every campaign there was radio, and in more recent days
TV coverage, at least of the interview type, ranging from 10
minutes to 4 hours.
     Appelman was a guiding force in the ministry of the American
Association for Jewish Evangelism, serving as president for a
number of years. He also was president of the Russian-Ukraine
Bible Institute of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada, and president
of the Hebrew Christian Alliance as well as being a board member
of numerous other missionary organizations.
     Tributes to his greatness come from such as R.G. Lee:
“In loyalty to the Bible, in spiritual fervor in seeking the lost
for Christ, in effectual preaching of the Gospel with spiritual
passion, in the success with the things that most matter in
evangelistic effort, Dr. Appelman comes close to weighing sixteen
ounces to the pound on God’s scale.”
Lee Roberson adds:
“The first time that I listened to him preach my heart was
stirred by his fervor, zeal, and passion for souls. Through these
years I have watched the records of his revival campaigns–for
thirty-five years there has been no abatement of his zeal and his
concern for the souls of men. He is a true friend, a gracious
brother, and a mighty preacher.”
Billy Graham concludes:
“Dr. Appelman is one of the greatest and most powerful preachers
of the Gospel I have ever listened to. Twenty years ago I used to
listen to him preach night after night and made notes on his
sermons. Some of my own knowledge and inspiration concerning mass
evangelism came from his ministry. Thousands of names are written
in the Lamb’s Book of Life because Dr. Appelman passed their

Doc Viewed 43603 times

How useful was this post?

Click on a star to rate it!

Average rating / 5. Vote count:

No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post.