Not ready to say goodbye to beloved minister
These are the words of his wife, Carol. The message is small and short, quite unlike the man himself. Yet I dare say thousands of people are walking the earth right now with this sentence hanging over them like a dark cloud.
Don is Don Vinzant, one of our ministers at the Edmond Church of Christ, where my family worships and serves. He has been there forever, and before that he worked with another congregation forever. And before that he was a missionary in Brazil forever.
Sick is really, really ill. Don has a rare form of cancer and a little-diagnosed and untreatable type of leukemia — which, when you think about it, is probably about all that could knock Don down. Add to that a staph infection and you’ve got a man who has been hit hard.
Had this been anyone else in our spiritual family, Don would be doing the comforting. He’d be driving his big sedan over right away to sit with their loved ones and pray over the wounded while they lay in bed. He’d be comforting the rest of us, administering the bear hugs for which he is famous. He’d be reassuring us, putting it all into the proper, eternal perspective.
But he can’t.
So in his physical absence, we’re floundering some. Sure, we’re trying to be there for one another and follow Don’s example, but it’s pretty clear that we’re nowhere near as good at this as he is.
For example, some of us simply cannot follow the procedures and protocol of Don’s hospital stay. Someone who shall remain nameless recently decided she would drop off some soup and chocolate at the hospital for Don and Carol, because it was a cold, rainy day and really, any day is a good day for chocolate (which this unnamed female knows Don likes a lot).
Before this person knows it, she is inside room 409, a privilege reserved for family only, sheepishly looking across at another rule-breaker.
The Vinzants are loved. They are quirky and funny, with servant hearts and self-deprecating ways, which of course means we don’t want Don to leave us. We don’t want Carol and their four children to experience that kind of loss. We as a spiritual family don’t want to hurt that way and feel such a giant void in our personal lives and our community of faith.
It’s a contradiction, really – a big group of Christ-followers who all want to go to heaven selfishly praying for God to let a beloved minister stay with them a while longer. But we are. We can’t help it.
“You don’t have to go far … any of the big emergency rooms in town, the big hospitals in town, there’s groaning, crying and weeping. And yet because of that suffering, there are all kinds of opportunities that God gives us to minister to people. And it’s been my limited experience in life that if you help people when they’re suffering, when they’re at their wits end, and you help them with a ministering word from Christ, from Scripture, they never forget that word and they may never forget you … and they never forget the church that ministers to people.”
Sign Don Vinzant’s guestbook on his Caring Bridge page.
FeedbackOne more of God’s singers gets home. What a marvelous breakfast we shared at the Abundant Living work shop in Branson, Mo. in October. Thanks for the memories.Jim HollingsworthTimberlaneTallahassee, FL
USAMarch, 12 2011Bud and I first met Don and Carol when they first came to Edmond. We took them out to lunch after church and from there we four formed a friendship. To me they were both people of God and Don a big teddy bear who loved everyone with a Christ like love. When we got to Edmond we always went out to lunch and Don would pick Bud’s brain on things he wanted to know. He will be miss but we know where he’s gone to be with Jesus. Many people have been eternally blessed by both Don and Carol.Bettty WilcoxWillow Park Church of ChristBenbrook, Texas
USAMarch, 11 2011I am praying with all my heart for Don and his family. He has been a tower of strength and a great example for my family for years and years. He baptized my daddy in 1985 and my dad was truly reborn! Through Don, God has worked many wonderful works. It seems way to soon to see Don cross over, and it is my prayer that he is left here, healthy, for a long time, to be God’s vessel. Love you Don and Carol!Roxie Prescottchurch of ChristMarshalltown, IA
USAMarch, 9 2011What a precious brother and equally precious sister is Carol. I am writing this from Singapore visiting our son Dave who ministers to the Moulmein Road church of Christ and is sponsored by the Edmond congregation. Don has encouraged Dave & Debbie as well as all the Hogan clan. We love and appreciate you.Gordon & Jane HoganCollege church of ChristSearcy, Arkansas
U.S.A.March, 9 2011I’ve known Don since we were students together at Abilene Christian College. He’s one of the most genuine, caring persons I know. My wife, Ann and I are praying for both Don and CarolNorman BalesCedar Rapids CentralMarion, Iowa
USAMarch, 9 2011Don has always been a great encourager and I’m sure he’s doing that now, as much as he can. Thank you, Don Vinzant, for all your work in building up the kingdom of God on this earth! And thank you, too, Carol, for your tireless labor alongside Don. Our prayers are with you and your family.Chris StinnettSeminole Church of ChristSeminole, OK
USAMarch, 9 2011Don is one of the finest human beings that I have ever known. He encouraged me to go into preaching, and the day I preached my first sermon as a new preaching minister in Liberty, Missouri, he called me and prayed for me that day.
I pray that God gives him healing. He is such a good man.James NoredHigh Pointe Church of ChristMcKinney, Texas
United StatesMarch, 9 2011My prayer is that–instead of viewing Don’s precious qualities as a “gift” that few if any can duplicate–more of us give our lives to trying to do just that!
Not only has his life thus far been the proverbial “open book” for all to see, but the love he and Carol have shared–their fun-loving(and my family and I have seen that first-hand!) roles as a team even in the oddest of settings(Halloween parties come to mind!), the demonstration of “Wherever one is, the other is(in heart, if not physically)!”, and so many other things that others could mention, will never be forgotten.
Where will this world be if such people are revered but not imitated(in our own imperfect way), respected but not taken on as true role models?Russ SharpEdmond church of ChristEdmond, Oklahoma
USAMarch, 9 2011So sorry to hear this news. I don’t this this man personally, but as his fellow sister in Christ I can’t help but feel for his immediate family and hid church family. Our congregation suffered a similar loss recently. This man was a pillar in our congregation and seemed very much like Bro. Vinzant. His church “family” would sneak in to see him in the hospital too. You just wanted to be there with him and his wife to comfort them and they were the ones comforting us. Praise God for “family” like them. May God’s will be done and have grace on those who are close to him.Gail HarrisGreater Springfield church oh Christchicopee, ma
UsaMarch, 9 2011Don is so many things to so many people. He is my source for answers to the tough questions and a secret key to a hidden library of unnumbered books! Thanks for your special thoughts.Brent KeckEdmondEdmond, OK
USAMarch, 8 2011My parents, Joe and Edith Giallombardo, faithful Christians-now members of Buckingham Road Church of Christ, Garland,TX celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary March 1. My in-laws, Odis and Nelda Walker, faithful members at Hyde Park Church of Christ, Austin, TX also celebrate their 70th anniversary March 15. What wonderful examples they have been to their 7 children, 15 grandchildren and 17 great grandchildren!Sue WalkerWaterview Church of ChristRichardson, TX
USAMarch, 8 2011