When I think today about the loss of a friend, I ask: What defines a life? Is it wealth or fame? Position or power? No, it’s none of these. A life well-lived is a life of obedient service to the Life-Giver. This is the kind of life that leaves an impact, that makes a difference, and even though that may never be realized on this side of eternity, I am confident we will see the true impact in the startling number of souls touched because of their faithfulness.
Edna Rhea Vaughn was that life. I’ve known her all my life, first in watching her friendship with my mother and their camaraderie in service in the church library. These were two faithful women who served their church together. Edna Rhea would serve as church secretary for many years, but also volunteered her time in teaching. This is where she touched my life personally, as she taught us on Sunday evenings in Training Union (a thing of the past) and also Bible drills.
It was in Bible Drills that she instilled in me a love for the Word and the importance of hiding it in my heart. I went on to do well in Bible drill competitions because of her, but even more important, I made the Bible a part of my daily life and service.
Missions was a part of our life together, as Edna Rhea served as chaperone on many of our youth mission trips. She also spent much of her personal time on mission whether locally or on mission trips with others in the church both in the USA and overseas.
When I left the comfort of my church family to serve overseas in missions, Edna Rhea was one of my inner circle of prayer warriors and supporters. She wrote letters, sent cards and most importantly, prayed faithfully for over 30 years for me, my husband and children. She was always interested and kept up with our life and ministry. She played an important role all those who accepted Christ through our efforts and the churches built.
Edna Rhea’s role didn’t end when we returned to the USA in 2009. Now in her 80s and our neighbor, she was close by for visits and continued to support us as we began a new church a few years later.
When my husband died in 2015, I went by her house to talk — but ended up crying, as she comforted me — now widow to widow, for she knew my pain, having lost her dear Charles when she was still a young woman with three growing boys. She knew what lay ahead for me as well. That was one of the most precious moments in our relationship.
Just a few months ago, I stopped by to see Edna Rhea, now in rehab and in declining health. Her back was giving her immense pain, so I stood over her as she bent down in her chair and rubbed her back. As I did, I lifted a prayer to our best Friend to give her peace and comfort and relief from her pain.
She now has that relief in full and is enjoying a new body with Him. Of all the people I’ve known in my life, I know that this dear, unassuming and faithful woman was warmly welcomed with a “Well done, my good and faithful servant! Enter into the joy of your Master!” Well, done Edna Rhea Vaughn.
May we all be as faithful and obedient.
Grace and Peace