Longtime SBC evangelist Freddie Gage died on Friday, Sept. 12. He was 81.
Born and raised in Houston, Gage was a drug addict and gang leader before coming to Christ as a teenager in 1951. Many knew him by his nickname, “The Cat,” a nod to his pre-conversion days as a cat burglar.
Gage felt called to preach the gospel the same night he was saved, and spent more than 50 years dedicating his life to evangelism. Throughout the latter half of the 20th century, he was widely known as a crusade evangelist. It is estimated that more than 1 million people professed faith in Christ as a result of Gage’s evangelistic efforts.
“We have seen few if any evangelists more passionate about reaching people for Christ than Freddie Gage,” longtime friend and pastor Jimmy Draper said.
“His persistence, determination, passion and energy have impacted the lives of over 50,000 churches and 70 denominations in his crusades. His effectiveness in preaching and rallying people around the cross has impacted millions, and his passing leaves a great vacuum in our lives.”
Gage’s health began to decline over the last few years, and although his crusades became less and less frequent, it did not deter him from personally sharing the gospel.
“One time we were in a restaurant and he asked a waitress, ‘Where do you go to church?’” recalls Craig Etheredge, pastor of First Baptist Church in Colleyville. “She said she hadn’t been to church in years. Freddy said with a smile, ‘You are just the person I’ve been looking for!’”
In addition to his crusades, Gage dedicated a large part of his ministry to ministering to those on the fringes of society. He urged local pastors to make an effort to reach those living on the streets or in prison and as a result saw significant numbers come to faith in Christ with dramatic stories of conversion.
“I have known of few men in my life more focused on leading people to the Savior than Freddie Gage,” former SBTC Evangelism Director Don Cass said. “No doubt the streets of Heaven are populated with people he personally led to the Master or who were saved in revivals and crusades Freddie preached.”
Over the course of his life and ministry Gage was known for telling audiences, “All my friends are dead.” He referred not only to the number of friends he lost to gang and drug violence but the spiritual death that existed apart from a relationship with Christ.
“Freddie Gage has been one of the most colorful characters in the ministry for all the years of my life,” Southwestern Seminary president Paige Patterson said. “When Freddie stepped on Heaven’s gold he was met not only by the Christ whose ambassador he faithfully was but also by a small army of individuals led to Christ by this remarkable evangelist.”
Gage is survived by his four sons, Daniel, Paul, Rick and Rodney, along with their wives and children.