A Few Stories About Vance Havner
By Michael Catt
Vance Havner came to my home church when I was a teenager. His messages and his life changed my life. I had never heard anyone preach with such authority and power. Although he stayed behind the pulpit and barely even raised his head, there was a power in his preaching. I remember one night in particular. It was youth night. At the end of the message, Vance called on the young people who were serious about God to come to the front – but it was a different kind of invitation. He told us to get our hymnals out and turn to ‘I have decided to follow Jesus’ and said, “I want you to come up here and sing that verse, “Though none go with me, I still will follow. I want you to face this congregation and sing it as a solo. There won’t be any piano, no duets, trio’s or quartets. I’m not interested in your voice, I want to hear your heart.” That night, I was the second one to the front. I am eternally grateful for a country preacher who made his way to Pascagoula, Mississippi to challenge a teenager to take a stand.
Michael Catt ©
I heard about the time when Dr. Havner was preaching at the Moody Church in Chicago. They had the windows open and a cool breeze was blowing through the building. Havner stood up and said, “I’m too old for the draft.”
Another time he was preaching in Chicago and was late arriving. His plane had been delayed. He stood and said, “I’d rather be Vance Havner late than the late Vance Havner.”
In the 1990’s Lehman Strauss told me he was at Winona Lake when Havner was preaching. Havner got up on that July day and said, “I’ve been reading this morning about this preacher, Norman Vincent Peale. I also read this morning the Apostle Paul. Personally, I find Paul appealing and Peale appauling.” The crowd roared.
At the Southern Baptist Convention in June 2005, Adrian Rogers told me about having Vance Havner preach for him at Merritt Island. He had secured a condo on the river for Havner. He told Havner he was going to sleep on the river. Havner in his usual wit replied, “Won’t that be a little hard?”
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