FAITH & REFLECTION — Last Sunday, a teenager in my church mentioned that he enjoys listening to J. Vernon McGee. I don’t think he said it to please me, but I was pleased that he said it … because McGee happens to be my favourite Bible teacher.
J. Vernon McGee (June 17, 1904 – December 1, 1988) served as pastor in several churches, but most notably as teaching pastor of the Church of the Open Door in Pasadena, Cali. from 1949 to 1970.
McGee was a gifted teacher and prolific writer, but he is best known for his radio ministry. His popular “Thru the Bible” aired in 1967. Retiring in 1970, he set up radio ministry headquarters in Pasadena and it grew dramatically. Today, 28 years after his death, his sermons are heard daily on over 400 stations in the United States and Canada, and are broadcast worldwide in more than 100 languages.
However, life was not always large churches and popularity for McGee. His father was killed in an accident in a cotton gin when he was 14 years old. They moved to Nashville, Tenn. where he dropped out of school and went to work at a wholesale hardware company. He would be up by five in the morning to obtain, sort, and distribute mail to the various offices. He did this for some time, until a man took him under his wing and he was able to return to school.
The same man sponsored him for college. That man’s son had become an alcoholic, so McGee obtained his unclaimed education fund. However, the sponsorship ran out and in his final year of college, wanting to go on to seminary, he had all but given up. These were the depression years; there were no jobs and no money. A friend, sensing his dejection, asked him, “Did somebody die?”
McGee, explaining his dilemma to his friend, was interrupted by a phone call. It was an invitation for him to visit two widows. He went and they both gave him an envelope, each containing $250. The following Sunday, the church where he taught Sunday school presented him with a check of $100. That money launched McGee into seminary and subsequently many years of fruitful ministry.
Following God’s remarkable provision for his education, McGee embraced Philippians 1:6 as his life verse. He later stated, “This is a great verse of Scripture. I’ve held onto this during many a dark night when the storm outside was beating against my little bark. My, how wonderful to have a heavenly Father like this.”
Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus – Phil. 1:6