So began a life long friendship with Vern Vaughan and a love for Bearing Precious Seed, a local church Scripture printing ministry. Some of the members of our church would go down to the print shop one evening a week and help with collating, binding, trimming and packing. Our young people even did some all night sessions. Over the years our church distributed tens of thousands of New Testaments all around the world.
Vern became one of my best friends. A person is fortunate if he has half a dozen real friends during his lifetime. We have many acquaintances but few friends. A friend is a person who knows all about you and loves you anyway. A friend is one who is coming in when everyone else is going out. A friend will be your friend, even when you are wrong. A friend won't hurt you. That was Vern.
Vern went to be with the Lord on February 6th, something he had been looking forward for years.
I would like to tell you a little about my friend Vern.
Vern was dedicated to God and to the Scripture printing ministry. He was one of the founders of the Bearing Precious Seed ministry of the Berean Baptist Church of Greenwood, Indiana. He quit a well paying job in the printing industry without the promise of one dollar from anyone. He had to go on deputation to raise money, not only for his own support but also finances to purchase printing equipment, supplies and paper. The ministry never kept count of the New Testaments they produced but it is well over a million and the ministry is still going strong. He and his family went through some trying times financially but I never heard any of them complain.
I wish you could have heard Vern pray. Few people I have heard ever prayed like him. He prayed like he was in the room with God. He didn't use any of the old cliches like many of us do. He actually talked to the Lord.
Vern was a man of convictions-- convictions about a lot of things. He would be quick to tell you when he thought you were wrong, but then he would love you.
To understand about Vern's nature I need to tell you about the flamingos. I left Indiana and moved to Florida in 1994 and we kept in touch. Once I found a couple of those plastic pink flamingos that people put in their yards. I think it must have been at a yard sale and, I don't know why, I thought of Vern. I bought them and sent them to Vern. Not long after that I received a box of plastic eggs and he told me that the flamingos were laying eggs all over his yard. After that, every time I would find anything with flamingos on it, I would buy it and send it to Vern and he would do the same. I would then call him or he would call me and we would have a good laugh. We often said that it was a good thing we didn't grow up together because we would probably have both wound up in jail.
I remember receiving a beautiful Christmas card from Vern. However, when I opened it, Vern had drawn a line through the person's name that sent it to him and then signed it. I almost rolled on the floor laughing.
Every time I heard a new joke I would call and share it with Vern and he would call me when he heard a new one. It got to the point that we would start laughing when we heard the other one on the phone. Lately we had to call the other soon after we heard a new joke, otherwise we would forget it.
In ways Vern was a very private person. He never wanted any glory for himself. I never heard Vern complain. He had been in poor health for several years but to this day I do not know what was wrong with him. When I would ask he would always change the subject.
I flew up to Indiana for Vern's burial and memorial service. His desire was to just be taken out and buried without a funeral. He didn't want a lot of fuss made over him. That isn't quite the way it worked out. We had a nice group for the graveside service with his pastor, Bill Blakely, officiating. The next day was the memorial service, and what a service it was!
It was the most remarkable memorial service I have ever attended. Berean Baptist Church of Greenwood, Indiana, was packed and it lasted two and a half hours! There was some great singing, his pastor spoke and then I spoke. After that the pastor allowed anyone to speak who wanted to say something about Vern. Some of his family spoke and many others did also. Pastor Blakely closed it out with a short message on salvation.
The print shop printed a special memorial New Testament with Vern's picture on the cover. He would have never allowed that but his wife, Tootie, said they didn't tell him.
This service was truly a celebration with a lot of laughing and a lot of praises to God. It was really not about Vern, it was about a great God who could take a man surrendered to His will and do great things. Vern would have loved it.
I miss Vern but I am thankful that I had him as a real friend. As someone said, "Don't be sad that it is over, be happy that it happened."