Making Money Wasn't Everything, I Found Something Better

by John Vaughn as told to Muriel Larson

This skeptical Air Force sergent couldn't argue against his subordinate's lifestyle.

Something is radically wrong with your baby's head," the doctor told my wife Brenda and me. "He has a rare problem called 'cranio-synostosis. ' The two plates in his head that are supposed to float freely and allow for expansion have grown together. That is why his head has grown very long and high, but not any wider. He will need an operation."

"Well, is it essential that this operation be done?" I asked.

"If you don't have it done," he answered, "and he finds out later in life that you could have, he will probably hate you!"

I looked at our three-month-old son and his already grotesquely shaped head. I had been so busy with my duties at the Air Force base and my moonlighting with pots and pans that I hardly knew the little fellow. Perhaps if Brenda and I had been with him more, we would have noticed this sooner.

The Air Force gave me temporary duty at the Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio so we could take John to the hospital there for the operation.

Brenda and I hadn't really had time to talk for months. Now we suddenly realized how our relationship had deteriorated. "What in the world has happened to us, Brenda?" I wondered.

"I don't know, John," she said. "But there's got to be more to life than what we're having!"

During those several weeks in Texas, I fell in love with my wife all over again and became better-acquainted with our little son. The operation on his head was successful, and we returned to Tampa with the idea of giving up the pots and pans business.


On our return, however, I became manager of the other salespeople because of the record sales I had made. I had to hold regular meetings for them and potential recruits. The meetings were conducted like church revivals, with peppy songs, testimonies of sales, an "evangelistic" message and an invitation to recruits to join the group.

These meetings reminded me of my boyhood days, the "revivals" that had been held in the churches my dad had pastored. At these I had often heard that Jesus Christ had died for our sins. Yet I had somehow gotten the idea that salvation depended on my believing, being baptized and living a good life, rather than on Jesus Christ.

When, as a teenager, I discovered I couldn't live a perfect enough life, I had become disillusioned, especially when I had seen the hypocritical lives of others who professed to be Christians. So I had turned wholeheartedly to the atheistic humanism that my literature teacher in high school fed me. From that it was only one step to adopting a "me-first" attitude and learning how to manipulate people for my own advancement. But while selling the pots and pans, I discovered there was no real satisfaction in that either.


During the next several years I sought satisfaction in furthering my education and advancing my career in the Air Force. On my second tour of duty overseas, as an E-5 staff sergeant, I had a crew of 12 guys under me to service planes.

One night a new guy named Gus came on duty. "Now I belong to Jesus," he started singing.

"Oh, no!" I groaned "not one of those!" But Gus turned out to be the first guy I had ever met who not only professed to be a Christian, but actually lived it.

Then I met another Christian, Gary, at the USO. He asked me, "Are you a Christian?"

I gave my stock answer, "Yeah, my dad is a preacher." But there was something so Christ-like about Gary that afterward, for the first time, I felt guilty about telling that lie.

I told Gus I had met another Christian. "Oh, there are lots of Christians on the base now," he told me. "We even have a saved chaplain."

"What do you mean?" I asked. "Aren't they all Christians?"

"Oh, no," he answered, "not everybody who claims to be a Christian is one."

So for the first time in my life I realized that those I had thought were hypocrites when I was young had probably not been Christians at alland neither had I ever been. No wonder we hadn't been able to live the Christian life like Gus did!

One night Gus gave me a Gospel tract called "The Beast." As I read it, I remembered that my grandmother had told me the same things that were in this tract when I was eight years old. I suddenly realized that there was a difference between what she had believed and what I had grown up believing about Christianity.

Now all the experiences I had had in life?the learning of man's philosophies, the sales work, the frustrations I had encountered flashed through my mind. God had let all these things happen to bring me to this point tin my life. I knew it!


What a fool I've been! I thought. What have I been working for all these years? I've practically thrown away my family because of my neglect of them. I'm lost?I'm lost!

During the next month I tried to clean up my life, still thinking my salvation depended upon me. But finally I said to Gary, "I'm lost. What am I going to do?"

"Everybody is lost without Christ, John," Gary said. "Satan has led you into all kinds of things that are nothing but substitutes for the truth of the Gospel."

"Yeah, but I was raised in the parsonage."

"Uh-huh, but your church and your beliefs have stood between you and the truth all your life. Look, the simple Gospel is that Jesus Christ died for your sins. If you're willing to admit that you're a sinner, that you really deserve to go to hell, and trust Jesus Christ as your Savior, you can be saved. "

That night Gary took me to a Bible study at a missionary's home. Afterward, each person in the circle prayed one by one.

What can I say? I wondered. I haven't talked to God for eight years! My turn came. "Lord," I exclaimed, "I've been a fool! I've tried to make myself what I thought I ought to be, but I can't. If Jesus Christ really died for my sins?and I believe He did. I want to give my whole life to You. I'll be whatever You want me to be!" Christ entered my life that night and completely changed it. I had instant victory over cigarettes and other bad habits. During the next 90 days of my overseas tour Gary discipled me, praying with me daily, teaching me how to live for Christ and to win souls.

Although my wife wasn't particularly pleased when I wrote home to tell her I had been saved, she too eventually got right with the Lord. Eventually, God called me to preach, I completed my education at a Christian school, and now I am the pastor of a growing, Christ-honoring church in Greenville, South Carolina. Now to persuade people to come to Christ I depend upon the power of the Holy Spirit rather than myself!

Note: Dr. John Vaughn's church in Greenville SC is now one of the largest in the city. He also founded "Hidden Treasure Christian School," for children with special needs.

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