A few weeks ago, I lost a good friend to cancer. Jerry Vogel was a great ministry leader who loved the Lord, his family, and kids ministry. Jerry and I were able to work together for almost 11 years. He was a great mentor and taught me a lot about ministry. He was known for his funny stories that he would tell during one of his many conferences he led over the years. Here are a few things that Jerry taught me during our friendship.
- You have to laugh at yourself. Jerry often told the story of one time when he was coming back from an event where he had picked up some plush talking Jesus dolls. Apparently his luggage busted and as he was standing there waiting for his luggage to come out, out pops one of those Jesus dolls wrapped up in a pair of Jerry’s undergarments! At the time he was mortified, but he was able to lighten the mood of so many conferences through telling that story. I always laugh when I think about it.
- You are not a mistake. Jerry told the story of his youngest daughter being born and as the fourth child, she was often told she must have been a mistake. He told how one day he sat her down and told her that she was not a mistake. A surprise, maybe; but definitely not a mistake. He went on to tell everyone in the room that they weren’t there by accident. God doesn’t make mistakes and none of his most precious creation was a mistake.
- Be humble and gracious. Jerry went through suffering, but he was always a man of integrity and graciousness. He loved people and they loved him. He dealt with life’s problems and didn’t let them stop him from doing the work that God had called him to.
- Encourage others. I don’t know how many notes of encouragement Jerry wrote me over the years. He always was willing to tell others when he thought they were doing a good job. He was definitely an encourager.
I could go on and on, but I’ll stop. Jerry was a man of God, a loving husband and father, and a champion of children. He left a legacy. I’m thankful I knew him and I’m excited for him that today he’s enjoying the fruits of his labor with our Savior.
Jeff Land is Publishing Team Leader for Bible Studies For Life: Kids. He holds a BSW from Mississippi College and a MACE from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Jeff has served as children’s pastor and currently teaches second graders each week at his church. Jeff, his wife Abbey, and their four sons live in Coopertown, TN.