In the middle of our discussion of the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force (GCRTF) Progress Report, a very real setback to the fulfillment of the Great Commission has occurred.
Vivian McCaughan has passed from this temporal life to eternal life with her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
We were in the middle of a series of articles that discuss the GCRTF Progress Report. We will return to those very important discussions in my next column. But I am interrupting those discussions to pay tribute to my friend, colleague, mentor, prayer partner and someone who was continuously, passionately and effectively involved in the fulfillment of the Great Commission—Vivian McCaughan.
In part, I shared the following exposition of Philippians 1:3-6 with the dedicated women of the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) at the 2010 M-Counter.
I should explain.
From my first year on the MBC staff, Vivian McCaughan has invited me to M-Counter. M-Counter is an annual meeting that celebrates the work of MWMU and Women’s Ministry in the MBC. As WMU/Women’s Ministry Specialist for the MBC, Vivian has been responsible for bringing those two groups together and coordinating the missions and ministry of Missouri Baptist women. Vivian has been a bridge builder, a peace-maker and an encourager to the women of the MBC. The work of MWMU/Women’s Ministry will go forward. They have very capable leadership. But we will all greatly miss Vivian McCaughan.
In preparation for M-Counter this year, and thinking of the friendship, work and ministry of Vivian McCaughan, the Lord brought me to Philippians 1:3-6. The Apostle was writing to the church at Philippi. The Spirit of God meant that passage for us, for such a time as this.
Remembrance—in verse 3 we find remembrance. “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you.” I acknowledged to the participants of M-Counter, that every one of them had their own memories of Vivian. Some of them would recall her effectiveness as a teacher. Others would remember missions/ministry events they had attended with Vivian. Still others would think of specific mission trips Vivian had led. I know, as well, that many of you have memories of Vivian McCaughan. I encourage you to tell those stories to one another and in so doing “…thank God upon every remembrance” of Vivian.
One of the memories I have is of Vivian telling the snake story. I asked her to tell that story at every Missouri Baptist church I pastored. Vivian was a career missionary in Ghana, West Africa. She was travelling, in a small all-terrain vehicle, with a national guide when they came upon what appeared to be a log lying across the road. But when they rolled the first set of wheels across the log, the log (actually a python) curled up around the vehicle. And Vivian and her guide rolled up the windows as fast as they could. You can imagine how that story would get the attention of the children in the multi-housing communities of north St. Louis County. And then Vivian would share the Gospel in terms that they understood.
Request—Philippians 1:4 refers to prayer requests. The verse says “…always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy.” Vivian McCaughan was the greatest prayer warrior I have known. Vivian was a prayer partner to Myra and I for almost 25 years. I cannot tell you the number of times she would call Myra and ask, “What’s going on with you guys? Are the kids alright? Is everything alright in the church? God’s had me praying for you guys all morning and I just want to know that you’re okay.” I doubt that I will ever know a prayer partner more committed than Vivian McCaughan. Myra and I miss her already.
I want to take this opportunity to remind all of us to continue to pray for Vivian’s family. For a long time, Vivian has been primary care-giver to her mother who was recently moved to a nursing home in Jefferson City. Pray for Imogene Hargrove. Pray also for Jim McCaughan. Jim McCaughan is a missionary in his own right, currently serving through Parker Road Baptist Church in Florissant. When I first met Jim, he was serving in the St. Louis Metro Baptist Association. At the same time, he was caring for his first wife and the mother of his three children, who also died of cancer. Jim McCaughan needs your prayers.
Relationship—the Apostle Paul understood the importance of relationship. He gave thanks to God “…for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now.” And, Myra and I thank God for the unique relationship we enjoyed with Vivian McCaughan. We were grateful to visit Vivian and Jim a few days ago. Of course, Vivian already was very sick. She was in a hospital bed and barely able to communicate. But as soon as Myra walked in the room, Vivian asked about our children. Vivian always asked about our children. She loved them and prayed continually for them. Myra assured her that that kids were alright. Next Vivian asked about Myra’s health. When Myra assured her that she was doing fine, Vivian said “Good. I’m glad someone is.” You have to know that for Vivian to acknowledge frailty was monumental. She was a realist. She knew very well about her condition. But she was determined to live all of her days in victory. And she did.
The relationship of our families crossed the generations. Even before I knew Vivian, I knew her father, through my father. The Reverend Billy Hargrove was an iconic figure among Missouri Baptists. Vivian’s dad was a pastor, evangelist and, for several years, he served on the missions staff of the Missouri Baptist Convention. In a very real sense, Vivian McCaughan’s heart for missions was inherited—missions was in her DNA.
Realization—Philippians 1:6 brings to mind the realization that God is in control. The verse says “…being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” It will take several people to do the work of Vivian McCaughan. Literally. We plan to use three contract workers to continue the ministry previously conducted by Miss Vivian. Even at that, I know that the work will suffer. But I am also convinced that the work will continue. The great relationship now enjoyed between MWMU and the MBC staff will continue. GA Retreats, Acteen events, and Mission Friends will continue to be vital ministries of the MBC. The Women’s Ministry programs begun by Vivian and those who assisted her will go forward.
We will greatly miss Vivian McCaughan. But it was God at work in His servant who made those ministries effective. Now God has called His servant to her reward. And, even as He rewards Vivian, our Lord will complete the work He began in her. Amen.