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Hero Series - Vance Havner
If Vance Havner were alive today he would probably brush off the fact that I would call him one of the heroes for God. He was a humble man and calling him a giant in the faith would probably make him blush but nonetheless that is what he was. I find that is so with most of the followers of Christ whom I classify as heroes of the faith. They all displayed a type of character so that when you came across one, he seemed strangely familiar as though you'd heard him before or met him before, when really his way was just like that of another and that other's way was just like that of Christ. In the end, the men who I would consider role models do have a way of Christ about them. After all, it is He whom they followed.
Born in Jugtown, North Carolina in 1901, Vance Havner lived a quiet simple life. He said that it was filled with things like the outdoors and exploring and that " it would drive a teenager frantic with it but I thrived on it." When he was still quite young, he decided that he wanted to preach. His father, a devout Christian,had for years entertained many a preacher in his home and young Vance would sit and listen to the Godly talk that would occur on such visits.
He asked permission to preach and began at the young age of 11 or thereabouts. From then on, Vance knew that his ministry was to preach. Today, years after he has gone onto the Promised Land, his recordings are available for all to hear if they choose to. I am sure he never dreamed that the words that he said so many years ago, would live on after him. All he was concerned about was the work that he had to do.
When speaking about that first time going to a neighboring town to preach as a boy, he recalled his father waiting for him when he got back and asking his well-known question. "How'd you get along?" He said then that he would like to think that when he reached to Heaven, his father would be waiting for him with that same question. It was about doing what he had to do. No praise necessary.
To hear Dr. Havner preach and talk about Jesus is to hear a friend of Jesus talk. His tone and voice betrays his love for Him. In his sermon Jesus Never Comes Next it is plain to see who was the Captain of his ship. Yet he never boasted of his closeness to the Lord but rather pointed out others who he found to be great friends of The Most High.
He talked about Daniel and the lions and the Hebrew children in the fiery furnace and the fact that they were in trouble mattered not because God was there with them in the midst of the lions and the furnace. Once you are with God, God is with you. Make no mistake, although he seemed a tame, quiet person, Havner had a way with words. In one sentence he could hit the nail on the head and in a way which even if you felt offended (because the truth does offend sometimes) you had to laugh. His joy for the Lord was contagious. He was so honest about himself and his life. He never pretended that he did not have his struggles in the Christian life and this is what makes me appreciate him all the more.
The mark of a good preacher is one who talks of revival and pleads with the people of the Church to open their eyes and see Who is with them. To turn around and realize, Look Who's Here. When Christ walks with you, there is nothing to fear, no problem to big to face, no grief too deep to bear.
Well it is as I predicted, beginning to talk about a man who followed God, I end up talking about the God Who he followed. And isn't that how it should be? The work which we do on earth should highlight Christ so much so that when someone starts to praise us for our work, before they even realize it, the praise has gone to God as he deserves.