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Charismatic minister William "Bill" Basansky died in his sleep Thursday at his home in Fort Myers, Fla. He was 78.

He and his wife, Beatrice, spent 40 years in ministry, planting churches and establishing Bible schools across the former Soviet Union. A former pastor and the author of 13 books, Basansky also was known for his Word-Faith teaching that focused on healing and living a victorious Christian life.

A native of Ukraine, Basanksy and his family were interred in Nazi prison camps during World War II. At the end of the war they were relocated to displaced persons camps until they were able to immigrate to the U.S. in 1949. He recounts the testimony in his book Escape From Terror.

Basansky later served in the U.S. Air Force, and then worked as a police officer and teacher. He accepted Christ in 1969 after eight years of alcohol and drug addiction that resulted from an accident that left him in constant pain.

He taught at Oral Roberts University for five years while earning a master's degree from Oklahoma University in Norman, Okla. He later earned a doctoral degree in counseling from Union University in California.

Basansky and his wife traveled full-time in ministry, preaching, planting churches and delivering millions of dollars worth of humanitarian aid to nations in the former Soviet bloc. The couple eventually settled in Fort Myers and founded Love and Grace Fellowship, which they led for 14 years.

He returned to traveling ministry in his later years, preaching and assisting hurting pastors across the U.S.

In addition to his wife of 56 years, Basansky is survived by his two sons, Eric and Jerry; his sister, Linda Ninowski; 12 grandchildren; six great-grandchildren; and numerous nieces and nephews.

A funeral service was held Sept. 14 at 2 p.m. at Life Church in Fort Myers, with Bible teacher Kenneth Copeland officiating. The service was to be streamed live at Life Church's website.

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