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 Church, Spartanburg, South Carolina where he continues to serve.
In addition to serving a downtown thriving mega-church, Dr. Wilton is the founder and president of The Encouraging Word which is broadcast over WSPA-TV, WYCW, WMIT, INSP International, and various times on Dish Network and Direct TV. The Encouraging Word has the potential to reach households in 158 countries through television, radio, and the Internet. The ministry also distributes a highly sought after daily devotional called The Daily Encouraging Word.
In addition to writing manuals, articles, and reviews for the Southern Baptist Convention, and publications such as Preaching and Decision Magazines, he is the author of a number of books: The Absolute Certainty of Life After Death, See You at the Finish Line, Totally Secure, When God Prayed, A Hope and a Future: Overcoming Discouragement, Praying for a Miracle, Encouragement In His Presence, and Defying the Odds: Standing Up When You Want To Give Up.
Dr. Wilton hosts Christian teaching tours to the Holy Land with each tour being focused on a different area each year including Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Rome, Turkey, and Greece. He has been asked to preach alongside Dr. Charles Stanley and Dr. David Jeremiah on various Christian cruises as well.
Dr. Wilton also has the privilege of serving as Dr. Billy Graham’s pastor. They have remained close friends for many years, and Dr. Wilton is 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 personal blessing to me.” Dr. Wilton visits with Dr. Graham on a weekly basis and they encourage and pray for one another. Dr. Wilton often shares his sermon for the coming week with Dr. Graham and he gives insightful feedback that is 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. He has served as the president of the South Carolina Baptist Convention and was elected to be the annual preacher for the Southern Baptist Convention. He has been a favorite speaker for the International Gideon’s Convention both at home and abroad.
The Wiltons have two married sons, a daughter, six grandsons, a granddaughter and two daughters-in-law. Both of their sons serve in ministry, and their daughter recently graduated from college. She spends much of her free time serving the Lord in missions such as Mission Lab at the New Orleans Seminary and by organizing events such as Stand for Freedom through the International Justice Mission. 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 children and 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.