On Sunday February 10th the Standard Bearer of Righteousness by Faith within the Adventist Church over the last 40 years fell asleep in Jesus.
Pastor Morris Venden as his son Lee says, “Had one string on his violin, Jesus,” and oh how beautifully he played that string.
My first encounter with Morris Venden was through his book, “Hard To Be Lost.”
I like many prodigals that return home was trying to work off past mistakes. Whenever someone preached the law or I read about God’s expectations for the Christian life. I left either depressed or angry and resentful that someone had confronted me in that way. Then one day amongst my parents books I discovered, “Hard To Be Lost.” I read it in just a couple sittings.
That book taught me a philosophy that I have tried to live by ever since, “It is harder to be lost than to be saved!”
As I moved out of that phase of my Christian walk and into a true understanding of Jesus and His love for me those sermons that once depressed me or made me angry, now understood in the light of Jesus’ love encouraged me! The law was no longer about Jesus’ love for me or even my salvation, but rather my joyful response to that glorious and marvelous love! Seeing things through the glasses of grace changes how we view everything, Elder Venden helped to teach me that.
Soon after I read that book, I began to read more of Elder Venden’s writings. “Never Without an Intercessor”, “To Know God”, & “Your Friend the Holy Spirit.” I was blessed by them all.
But then one day I discovered some old camp meeting tapes in a box, an entire series by Morris Venden. I remember listening to these tapes over and over again with tears streaming down my face as I would drive here and there. The man knew how to tell a story and tie it to the Gospel!
Just a couple years later at Union College I met a number of people that knew Elder Venden when he had served as the Pastor of the College View Seventh-day Adventist Church. It was through these people I learned about some of Elder Venden’s demons, his struggles, his awkwardness with people. It didn’t discourage me though, it actually endeared my heart to him even more.
He was a man that was far from perfect which is why He always had to lean on our Perfect Savior!
Two years later when I was now attending Southern Adventist University, Elder Venden was the speaker for our ministerial consecration weekend. During one of his messages on Sabbath afternoon, we were meeting in the Thatcher Hall chapel in the Women’s dormitory & the fire alarm went off. We all had to vacate for a few minutes outside into a courtyard. I saw Elder Venden standing there alone and I approached him. It was an awkward 30 seconds. He definitely was not a people person…I had heard this but to experience it first hand caught me off guard. And yet this man could stand in front of thousands and talk about Jesus in such a way that you thought he was talking directly to you or that Jesus had sent him with this message just for you.
Elder Venden is no more. But His message of Jesus lives on in all of us that heard it and were changed forever for the glory of our Savior!
Thank you Jesus for sending us for a season our brother in the faith Morris Venden!