On the morning of September 24, 1999, the Rev. Terry D. Dirks passed away in his sleep while on an International Renewal Ministries prayer summit consultation trip to Nagano, Japan. Dirks was a vice president for Multnomah Bible College and Multnomah Biblical Seminary and oversaw International Renewal Ministries, Mission Portland Networking, and Public Relations.
Dirks was the voice behind the vision of IRM, a movement founded in 1989 by former Multnomah president Dr. Joe Aldrich. Dirks became the spark that ignited this international movement of God created to encourage denominational and racial reconciliation within the greater body of Christ. In its beginnings, Dirks helped IRM touch the lives of Northwest pastors and church leaders, encouraging them to seek unity and reconciliation in Jesus.
Today this ministry reaches out to more than 10,000 pastors and church leaders worldwide, with prayer summits and conferences in more than forty states and a dozen countries, including Japan, Russia, Israel, Australia, and Canada.
In addition to the prayer summits, Dirks coordinated Mission Portland Networking, the local expression of IRM in the greater Portland area of Oregon, which was instrumental in coordinating the 1992 Billy Graham Crusade in Portland. In Dirks’ work overseeing Multnomah’s Public Relations department, he helped to foster strong relationships with churches, pastors, government leaders, and the media.
Dirks served the Lord at Multnomah for thirteen years beginning in 1986. After graduating from Multnomah in 1966, he attended Northwest Nazarene College where he met his wife, Judy. They were married in September 1968. Mrs. Dirks continues to serve with IRM as a women’s/couples prayer summit facilitator.
Prior to his ministry at Multnomah, Dirks served for three years as executive director of Planned Living Seminars and Ross Associates in Yakima, Washington. For twenty-two years he served with Youth for Christ, first in the greater Portland area, then for nine years in Boise, Idaho, and for nine years in Yakima. During most of that time, he served as executive director for local YFC chapters and fulfilled several regional, national, and international responsibilities for the organization. In his years prior to leaving YFC, he was especially active in staff training and development, as well as in administrative functions. In 1972, he was ordained as a minister of the gospel by the Evangelical Free Church of America and was granted Career Credentials with Youth for Christ USA.
He remained consistently active in local church fellowships serving on church boards and committees, teaching, and acting as interim pastor. He served on the board of directors for the Cannon Beach Conference Center, and chairman of the board of Portland YoFC. He also served with the board of the Oregon Association of Evangelicals and on the executive committee of the 1992 Pacific Northwest Billy Graham Crusade.
Dirks is fondly remembered as a competent, steady man with a quietly intense spiritual passion. Many who have worked with him confess that Dirks represented a paradox. His personal demeanor was reserved and unassuming, yet his inner strength, unrelenting sense of purpose, and authentic manner won the affection and confidence of friends and associates. Through his administrative and organizational skill, Dirks has been credited with stewarding a worldwide movement with simple efficiency. Dwight Steele, pastor of Montavilla Baptist Church and a Multnomah board member, commented, ‘Most great managers can’t resist the temptation to put their faith in their ability. Terry was an organizational genius who had learned the trick of not putting his faith in that, but in the Lord that he loved. That was his genius, and that was his heart.’
Dirks’ gentle style and gracious personal presentation won him recognition as a diplomat and a team builder. Through his work with IRM and the pastors prayer summits, Dirks has been widely recognized as a worldwide ambassador for prayer, traveling extensively to assist Christian leaders in drawing diverse expressions of the church together. In his role with the summits, Dirks contended earnestly to keep ‘seeking the face of God’ as the singular focus of the prayer gatherings, while seeking to maintain a strong working relationship with other ministries with a more tactical focus. His steadfast, conciliatory approach won him friends across the country and around the world.
Dirks served as a model for applying Christ-like gentleness to relationships whether in the workplace or at home. He was a gifted mediator, known for maintaining an uncanny sense of perspective even in challenging circumstances. ‘He was a meek and loving man,’ said Pastor Don Frazier of Genesis Community Fellowship. ‘He loved us no matter who we were. That’s what drew me to him. I would hate to think that I knew a man like Terry without learning something from him.’
As a devoted family man, Dirks was deeply invested in the lives of those closest to him. The Dirks’ had two daughters, Dana and Debbie, and three grandchildren, Addie, Nathan, and most recently, Jacob, born six hours after Dirks’ departure to Japan. Dirks was aware of Jacob’s birth prior to his passing. In addition to his immediate family, he is survived by his mother and two sisters.
He is remembered as the consummate grandfather, taking to the role with enthusiasm that was only exceeded by his zeal for God. ‘His love for his family was second only to his love for Jesus,’ remarked Dick Palmer, a long-time friend and associate who also serves on the board of Multnomah. ‘Pictures in his office and pocket were shown proudly. Judy and the girls were the center of his life.’ Dirks also enthusiastically acknowledged his sons-in-law Rob and David as welcome members of the family.
Dirks was an obvious servant of Jesus Christ. His humble spirit and loving personality warmed the hearts of those who knew him. He actively sought out opportunities to serve and always had time to minister to others. He identified three things as paramount in his life: the Word of God, intimacy with God, and other people. He will be greatly missed by all who knew this extraordinary man. Reflecting on Dirks’ passing, Frazier drew upon his work with him as a facilitator of pastors prayer summits. ‘Terry is facilitating again,’ Frazier said.’ By leaving, he’s causing us to draw together to do what God has called us to do in the city.’ Multnomah has established an assistance fund to help the Dirks family with final expenses, and a memorial endowment fund that will help continue the ministry of IRM.
(Terry, you were truly a servant-leader of Jesus Christ. You will be greatly missed!)