At 88, Pat Boone could take it easy and look back on a life of accolades and accomplishments. He has recorded more than 2,300 songs—that’s more than any other artist in history. He holds the record for the number of consecutive weeks on the Billboard singles chart—220—that’s more than four years. He has starred in several Top Ten box office movie hits, as well as the 1970 Christian film “The Cross and the Switchblade.” He has owned a professional basketball team and a radio station, co-founded a Christian record label and written 15 books, including two that were million sellers. Even in his 80s, he has played significant roles in several faith-based films.
But today he is focused on what matters most of all—the salvation of souls. Actually, his passion for evangelism is nothing new. He has always been winsomely vocal about his Christian faith. He and his late wife, Shirley, who passed away in 2019, were close friends of Billy and Ruth Graham; Shirley and Ruth were prayer partners. Pat has read the Bible through every year for 42 years, and the Boones have hosted many Bible studies at their home. Over the years, more than 300 people have been baptized in their swimming pool. And because of their genuine faith, many people in the entertainment industry have approached them privately to ask questions about Jesus Christ.
Boone’s desire to see people saved is at the heart of his most recent book, “If,” which he calls his most important project to date. The book was the focus of a Feb. 4 book signing at the Billy Graham Library, in Charlotte, North Carolina. Hundreds attended, and Boone chatted casually with guests, continuing to sign books well after the scheduled ending time, until he had talked with every last person in line.
“The world is in a freefall, so it’s wonderful when you have Christians who are courageous and who speak their mind,” said Jean Tilanus as she stood in line. “It’s thrilling, and it’s encouraging for other Christians because we are swimming upstream as Christians.”
In an interview after the book signing, Boone remarked: “I’m looking back and I realize that I have kept the faith,” he said. “I haven’t finished my course yet, but it’s getting close. I can almost see the finish line.”
So why write this book?
“If—as I found out since God impressed me to do it— turns out to be the most important word in the Bible,” he said. “Now, that’s saying a lot, isn’t it? Two letters: I-F. It’s used over 500 times in the Old Testament and New Testament combined. If. If. If. God will bless us in every conceivable way He wants to. He wants us to be in His family. He wants to be our Father. He wants us to be His children—if we will receive Him. And God impressed on me that there’s not one blessing of God in the Bible that doesn’t come with an if.”
In the book, Boone presents the case that God exists, that the Bible is the divinely inspired Word of God and that Jesus is Messiah and Savior. And he calls on readers to decide what to do about those facts.
“I want you to know this One who died to save you, who loves you, and this Father who wants you to spend eternity with Him,” he said. “And the big if—the reason for the title of the book—is He’s offering it all, if you will accept it.
“Jesus is—and has always been, since I gave my life to him at 13—my Friend. Yes, He’s my Savior who guarantees I’ll spend eternity with Him. And in the 23rd Psalm, He promises to walk with me always, even if and when I walk through the valley of the shadow of death. … As my life has unfolded, I’ve carried the deep knowledge that Jesus, my Friend, the very Son of the living God, was watching and caring and opening doors for me. The all-powerful, loving and capable Son of God knows and cares about each of us, and He desires to be our best Friend! That’s who Jesus is and has always been to me.” ©2023 BGEA
Photos: Thomas J. Petrino/©2023 BGEA