Our new friend, Vern, stopped coming for a while, (see Can We Please leave now Lord ) but when Bruce agreed to pastor the church for a year if needed, Vern came back. He began cleaning up his life, and became an enthusiastic member of the congregation.
Vern had health problems, but he almost never missed a service. One Wednesday evening he entered the church early looking for my husband. "Brother Bruce, I just came to tell you that I will have to miss the service tonight. I'm passing blood and I need to go to the hospital. Would you pray for me before I go?"
Bruce prayed that the Lord would cauterize the bleeding, and Vern left, but came back later to let us know what the Doctor had said. "He told me that he saw evidence that I had been bleeding," he said, "but it looked like someone had gone in and cauterized the bleeding." We rejoiced with him, and he continued to be a blessing to all of us.
He was always telling his friends and family what a wonderful friendly church we were, and inviting others to come. He had a passion to see souls saved, especially his family.
One day we decided to invite him to come with us to an evangelistic service a few miles away. We had a nice visit with him as we drove. "You know," he said, "I am glad you obeyed the Lord in deciding to pastor this church. I wasn't going to come back when I found out the church had no pastor. I knew I didn't want to be floundering around on my own."
He told us that he had made things right with God and had corrected his errors as much as was humanly possible. Then he made another statement which we will never forget. He said, "If the Lord should take me home tomorrow, I know that I am ready to go." He continued on by saying his only concern was for the salvation of his family.
The next day we got the call. "Come to the hospital quick. Vern is dying." Vern passed on to be with his Savior before we reached the hospital. Bruce had the job of giving the news to all his family as they arrived. What a blessing it was to have those final words of assurance to pass on to them!
At the funeral Bruce preached a salvation message just as he knew Vern would want. At the end he asked for a show of hands of those who wanted to make a decision to serve the Lord. Five people raised their hands.
We taped the service and sent the tape to one of Vern's sisters in Nova Scotia. Some time later Bruce got a call from her. She said she wanted him to know that she agreed with what he had said at the funeral, and she had committed her life to the Lord. She said she was going to pass the tape on to her sister who also needed to hear it, and eventually we heard from that sister also.
God had used Vern's death just as he had used his life. His greatest desire had been to see his family serve the Lord, and death didn't stop those prayers from being heard.
......Now, unless God sends us a miracle, it will be Bruce's time to go. He, too, is ready to go, and he, too, has one great desire, an overwhelming longing to see all his family serving the Lord. Bruce is still praying that whether through life or death his family will all be joined together in Christ. That, to him, is far more important than whether he lives or dies now.
To my dear friends who read these blogs, I would ask that you pray with us, not just for Bruce, but for his family as well. Thank you so much for the love you have already showed.