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Ed Bousman spread the gospel around the world

Lead Summary
The Highland County Press

NOTE: This is Part 1 of a series leading up to the Highland County Historical Society inducting four more into its Hall of Fame. This week, we profile the late Ed Bousman.

Ladies and gentlemen, in the 1960s, Ed Bousman had a dream. This dream became a reality when Ed went to his congregation at the Lynchburg Church of Christ one Sunday morning with a challenge for them to go home and ask God for something impossible.

Ed took his dream to God that day, asking for the impossible – a nationwide radio broadcast. Many in this area know the rest of the story – The God is Just a Prayer Away (GIJAPA) ministry was born, and for 50 years, Ed Bousman’s voice was heard over the airwaves and has continued after he passed away in 2011 at the age of 92.

“He loved radio, and he knew that if could get on a 50,000-watt station, he could preach the gospel to a lot of people,” said Bill Wills, a Lynchburg native and former WLW-AM host.

Born in 1918 in Matewan, W.Va., Mr. Bousman earned a bachelor’s degree from the Cincinnati Bible College and Seminary and a master’s in communications from Xavier University. He started his ministry in 1943 and began broadcasting in 1962 by buying a Sunday half-hour evening time segment on WCKY-AM for $180.

Mr. Bousman switched to paying WLW for a time slot before 1970, said Wills, who as a child attended Bousman’s Lynchburg Church of Christ in Highland County.

“He did not want to be called a ‘reverend.’ He was a pastor and an evangelist,” Wills said about the longtime family friend.

At the time of his death, Mr. Bousman was heard on stations in Indianapolis; Louisville and Prestonburg, Ky.; Wheeling, W.Va.; Richmond, Va.; Waterloo, Iowa; Little Rock, Ark.; and on short-wave stations in India, Russia, Europe and Africa. He often mailed Bibles and clothing to African and European regions that listened to his broadcasts, Wills said.

“Lynchburg is a town of 1,000 people, and he had it on the map,” Wills said.

Mr. Bousman also hosted “Preaching Christ TV” (1984-94), which ran on both Channel 19 and satellite television, according to his wife, Naomi Angel Bousman. All former broadcasts can be heard on the ministry’s website (

His theme song – which Mr. Bousman sang each broadcast – was written by his first wife, Roberta, who died in 1980. Mr. Bousman recorded the program in his home studio.

In December 1982, he married Naomi, a former teacher at Sycamore High School.

In 2010, after Mr. Bousman became ill, the couple “got organized” Mrs. Bousman said. They recorded an estimated five years’ worth of future broadcasts to be heard without repetition.

In addition to his radio program, Mr. Bousman traveled frequently on weekends, speaking across the country at Church of Christ-hosted revivals and annual events such as the Hillsboro (Ohio) Family Camp and Prayer Clinic in Grundy, Va.

“He was a living Bible, who had the entire New Testament memorized,” Mrs. Bousman said. “He ate, slept and drank scripture.”

“Over one billion souls can hear the gospel each week,” said Kerry Allen, longtime director of Person To Person Ministries in Hillsboro. “Only God could do what GIJAPA has done. Ed was brilliant in scripture. He was a genius in making his point and making it stick. As Ed got older, he got busier … at age 92 he was still recording broadcasts for the future … after he was gone. And from Highland County, through God is Just a Prayer Away, the gospel has been spread around the world.”

In addition to Mr. Bousman, the 2020 Highland County Historical Society Hall of Fame inductees are Benton Raymond Duckworth (1890-1996), public school educator and conservationist; Harriet Amelia (Hack) Fenner (1936-2019), the first and only woman elected as a commissioner of Highland County; and Wenona Marlin (1871-1945), journalist, lecturer, author and leader in the suffrage movement.

The induction ceremony will be held Sunday, Aug. 22 at 2 p.m. at the Presbyterian Church, 201 E. Main St., Hillsboro, followed by a reception at Highland House directly across the street from the church. The event was canceled in 2020 due to the pandemic.

The public is cordially invited to attend. For more information on the Highland County Historical Society, please call (937) 393-3392 or email the society at

Steve Roush is vice chairman of the Highland County Historical Society Board of Trustees, a vice president of an international media company and a columnist and contributing writer for The Highland County Press. He can be reached by email at


Gregg Ragle (not verified)

3 September 2023

I earnestly started listening to brother Ed, every Sunday morning starting in 2009 here in Cincinnati, on my GE P780!!! His voice would come BOOMING in on my GE. His sermons came to me, at a time, when I REALLY needed to hear it.

Thanks to Ed and his wife and the GIJAPA team. The souls this man led to the Lord, I'm sure are into the 1,000's.
Can't wait to see him again. AMEN AMEN!!!

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