DONALD M. LYON, age 89, was born on July 9, 1931, in Egeland, North Dakota to Frank Lyon and Florence (Booher) Lyon. The family later moved to the State of Oregon, where he lived until he moved to Rockford, Illinois. He was the youngest of four children and the last to be called home.
While attending Open Bible College in Des Moines, Iowa; Don married his childhood sweetheart, Donna Faye Swaggart in Eugene, Oregon on August 9, 1951 and 69 years later they were still as devoted to each other as the day they said “I do.” They had four children, Faye (Jeffery) Jacobs, Curtis Lyon (deceased), and twins Carla (Brad) Hampton and Marla (Jonathan) Eash. They have seven grandchildren, Chad (Jill) Hampton, Krysten (Joseph) Zarembski, Colin Eash, Harrison Eash, Jeffrey Jacobs, Justin (Cally) Jacobs, and Brandon (Caitlin) Jacobs. They have nine great grandchildren. And many sons and daughters in Christ.
He graduated from Open Bible College in 1953 with his bachelor’s in theology, and in 1973 he received an Honorary Doctor of Divinity Degree from Florida Beacon College and Seminary.
In March of 1954, Don and Donna Lyon moved to Rockford, Illinois, where they founded Open Bible Center in the Loves Park area, and it grew in attendance to 1200 people. They pastored Open Bible for 25 years. While there he started one of the first daycares in the area to assist working parents.
Open Bible Center produced a weekly, 30-minute television program entitled QUEST FOR LIFE. It aired not only locally, but nationwide for 16 years. During that time, God gave Apostle Lyon a vision of a mobile television van, that was able to pull up to live events and film an event on location. This was the first ever to be built and was leased by all three national broadcast networks (ABC, CBS, NBC) to film their live events. Soon those networks built their own based off from the one Apostle Lyon had built.
At Open Bible Center Apostle Lyon built the first Christian academy in the Rockford region, Open Bible Academy – preschool through 12th grade. He also started a fully accredited Bible School, Rockford School of Theology, which trained ministers and lay leaders.
While pastoring at Open Bible, Apostle began the first Christian radio station in Rockford, 100.9 WQFL.
Our dad loved America and loved the biblical foundation and freedoms that America is founded on. In 1977, when he believed those core values were being eroded, he ran for Congress in a closely watched election, his opponent narrowly won. That was his opponent’s last election, so he ran again in a five-way race, but again lost by a narrow margin. In the 1980’s, Apostle Lyon was the key player in bringing legislation to Illinois that would not require churches with schools to become licensed in their day cares. He was present when the governor signed it into law.
In 1978 Apostle started an interdenominational church, Faith Center International Ministries. During Faith Center’s 42 years of ministry and outreach, Apostle Lyon built the Faith Academy Christian School for pre-school through 12 grades. In 1991 he started a second station 88.30 WFEN radio station. Faith Center enjoys and is growing in its various ministries. Children, Youth, Music-Worship, Prayer, Healing School, Prophetic Ministry, Young at Heart Seniors, small groups, feeding our local families, MightyX Men/Women, Young Families/Adults, WFEN Radio, video and audio outreach. He also started a charitable organization downtown Rockford, to feed and cloth the underprivileged, but also to have classes for ex-offenders and tutored young children who had fallen through the cracks.
Apostle Lyon is actively involved in the Rockford community and many ministerial organizations. Locally, he is a charter member and past president of the Rotary Club of Loves Park. He started the local organization of Rockford Evangelical Ministers to bring local pastors together in fellowship. He has also served on the board of the National Religious Broadcasters. He serves on the Board of the National Association of Evangelicals. He is an Honorary Member, a member of particular status with the International Coalition of Apostles.
His 69 years of ministry he has traveled to many lands for missionary work, up to the age of 85, when he took his last trip to Nigeria. He defended his faith in many arenas. He was pro-life and participated every year in the pro-life public demonstrations that were held. He was persistent in writing letters to legislators, national networks, and companies who he believed were improper in their legislation, message, or conduct before the public. He loved people and would do whatever was in his power to do to help someone in need. He was a charismatic and energetic personality, which sometimes drew criticism, but he knew he only needed the approval of God. He was faced with and weathered many challenges, but never lost his faith in God. His unwavering and consistent ministry caused him to be accepted as an apostle and father to many pastors, evangelists, and ministry leaders across the globe. He was often introduced as a “pastor to pastors”.
Within the family he was the host to many popcorn nights, where he prepared his own special popcorn, popped in real butter.
A viewing will be held at Faith Center, 4721 South Main, Rockford, IL on Saturday, October 10, 2020, from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. and on Sunday, October 11, 2020, from 9:00 to 10:30 a.m... A celebration of life service will be held at Faith Center on Sunday, October 11, 2020, at 11:00 a.m... Private family internment. A memorial is being established to honor his life. Please consider a contribution instead of sending flowers.
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