Born on September 1, 1912, to Charles and Georgia Harris in Detroit, Michigan, Ralph was the youngest of six children. His young life saw very little in material wealth, but an abundance of love and guidance. "We didn't know we were poor," he said in his memoirs.Harris graduated magna cum laude from Cooley High School in Detroit in 1931 and went on to earn a diploma from Central Bible Institute (now College) in Springfield, Missouri, in 1937. He would add a bachelor’s degree in 1961 and a master’s degree in 1969, also from CBC.Harris pastored from 1936 to 1943, first Nichols (Missouri) Community Church, then Faith Tabernacle in Clio, Michigan. In 1943, he was selected as the first National Youth Leader for the Assemblies of God. During his tenure leading the A/G youth from the national headquarters in Springfield, Missouri (1943-1948), Harris founded the Speed the Light program in 1944-a missions program that focused on providing transportation, from bicycles to 4-wheel drive vehicles, to assist missionaries in the field. This program has grown exponentially over the decades. Last year, Speed the Light giving reached nearly $12 million.From 1948 through 1954, Harris pastored Fremont Tabernacle in Seattle, Washington. There he put his church on the map when in 1949 he and his church recruited 1,189 people to hand-write a chapter each of the Bible. Writers ranged from 8 to 85 years old and came from nearly 30 denominations. The local newspaper provided weekly updates concerning the progress and even President Truman sent a congratulatory note upon the Bible’s completion. "From that time on, people always referred to [us as] 'the church with the handwritten Bible," Harris said during an interview.In 1954, Harris was invited back to Springfield, Missouri, to become the editor in chief of A/G Church School Literature Department, which developed curriculum for Sunday School. He held that position until his retirement from headquarters in
Have a question about this product? Ask us here.