A Missionary Legacy
Longtime Assemblies of God pastor Randy L. Valimont remained a champion of global missions to the end.
Valimont, 59, died Oct. 31 from complications from surgery. Since 1993, he had been senior pastor of Griffin First Assembly in Georgia.
When Valimont became senior pastor more than a quarter century ago, the church had an average attendance of 400. Today, the megachurch, with a weekly attendance of almost 6,200 across seven campuses, is consistently in the top three annual contributors to Assemblies of God World Missions among the U.S. Fellowship’s 13,000-plus congregations.
Valimont devoted his final month on earth to missions emphasis at Griffin First Assembly. He entitled his last sermon to the church “Do We Have Enough Lifeboats?”
To help facilitate his vision for providing for missions, Valimont’s family asked that donations be given to the missions fund at Griffin First Assembly in lieu of flowers, “so that we can fulfill pastor’s dream of building a bigger lifeboat.”
Georgia AG Superintendent Mark L. Merrill says Valimont, who also served as assistant superintendent of the Georgia AG,
is greatly missed.
“Because of his worldwide ministry, the shock waves of grief are being felt all over the world,” Merrill says. “Since his passing, I have been in five foreign countries on two continents. In every country that I have visited, there has been someone who has asked about him, his family, and Griffin First Assembly.”
Jelly Valimont, married to Randy for 39 years, says it has been difficult for both the church and the city of 23,000.
“Randy was not just a pastor of Griffin First Assembly, but of the entire community,” she explains. “To some, Randy was the only pastor they had ever known and was truly their spiritual father, mentor, and friend. Many have stated that they felt they lost a family member.”
During Valimont’s pastorate, Griffin First Assembly raised more than $28 million for missions. Under his leadership, the church became a district and national leader in missions and church growth.
“We acknowledge that we were not ready for him to go into eternity,” Jelly says. She notes that interim pastor Ron Crum has encouraged adherents to grieve the loss of the longtime pastor. Nevertheless, Jelly, whose official title for the past 15 years has been administrative consultant, says winning converts to Christ remains a priority for the congregation.
“Although we miss Randy as our pastor, the mission of the church has not changed,” she says. “It is about the kingdom of God going forward and not about Randy Valimont being gone.”
Merrill believes Valimont uniquely distinguished himself as a missionary statesman.
“He was a pastor’s pastor who mentored scores of emerging leaders in America and around the world,” Merrill says. “My prayer is that the seeds that he has planted in the lives of so many ministers, missionaries, and ministries result in a spiritual awakening that he lived his life pursuing.”
Rick DuBose, assistant general superintendent of the U.S. Assemblies of God, notes that a family that attended an AG church adopted Valimont as an infant.
“They could not have known the world impact the child would have,” says DuBose, who attended Valimont's funeral. “They embraced him because he needed a family. They enjoyed being his family and watching him grow into a preacher and pastor, without knowing he would eventually have local, denominational, and world influence.”
DuBose says Valimont’s devotion to God's kingdom and compassion toward the disenfranchised resulted in part from the unconditional love he received from his adoptive family.
“He would grow to be a good judge of character, a great leader, inspiration and friend to many,” DuBose says. “My hope is that his life will not only inspire others to live at a high level, but many to become adoptive parents. Who knows who could be the parent of the next Randy Valimont?”