Follow Death is Gain (Ben) and SaulBecomesPaul (Virgil) as they share witnessing experiences, tips, devotions, encouragement and encounters with the unchurched.
Sunday, October 20, 2013
In loving memory...
Virgil Keith Patterson - SaulBecomesPaul
August 31, 1975 - October 8, 2013
Our dear brother Virgil has gone home to The Lord. Virgil has received his eternal reward and fulfilled his life verse:
Philippians 1:21 - to me to live is Christ, to die is gain.
Last May I was able to go see Virgil, knowing that his health was declining, I wanted to go and see him and be able to spend time with him. Praise God he was able to go out and do things while I was there. Virgil and I were able to labor in the fields for The Lord one last time together. We had some great conversations with people The Lord put in our paths and provided them the Gospel and a tract. We had a great time together with his family over those 4 days that I was there to see him. I tried to prepare myself for it possibly being the last time I would see him, it was quite difficult to say goodbye and get on a plane to come back home. I had known money was tight and that I might not be able to fly back out to see him or attend his memorial service should that day would come...
Over the next couple of months we continued talking and praying with one another but our frequency of conversation lessened as his illness got worse. We both knew that his health was declining and that it was up to The Lord if he would get better or go home to our Lord. He inspired me with his faithful attitude and desire to give God glory in his battle with Cancer. He knew he deserved worse than cancer and was grateful that God had saved him and allowed him to be used for God's glory. As he was able he continued in giving tracts or sharing the gospel. He read Gods Word as he was able and I know he stayed in prayer. I imagine that he dwelled on passages that he memorized, like the whole book of Philippians or the many other passages that he memorized and referenced often in conversations.
Following the Caring Bridge site that was setup for Virgil, I learned and stayed in touch with his health and what was going on. In the October 4th update I learned of Virgil's more rapid decline in his health and that he was soon going home to The Lord. My heart was so saddened over this situation and even though I knew it was coming or that I knew where he was going, I was so troubled over this upcoming loss. My heart sank and still sinks for Kelli and their kids. Their world was about to be turned upside down and now different without a Dad or Husband. My wife and I spoke about them and continued to lift them up in prayer. On October 7th I shared with the DiG community Virgil's current status and had spoke with many of the folks from DiG as a result. So many people have been and were praying for Virgil and his family. We learned the next day the 8th that Virgil went home to The Lord sometime in morning.
I knew that I should go and wanted to get to his family and be there for the service when the time came. As I spoke with one of the guys from DiG I shared that money was tight in traveling out there to be there, he quickly said "he would see what he could do and he will find a way to get me there, as I need to be there." I didn't quite know what he was talking about per say, what came later blew me away. He created a donation\fund raising page and spread it around the Internet and quickly raised funds for me to get to his service. I was humbled and so blessed that so many would pull and help me get there. The additional funds that were raised above my travel needs will be going to Kelli and the kids.
I had tried mentally to prepare myself for Virgil's celebration of life service and the reality that I was now traveling out there. I had the honor and privilege to be asked to be one of the three people to give a eulogy for Virgil at his celebration of life service. Quickly to my Bible I felt The Lord leading me to Philippians 1:21 and the rest of Philippians and wondered how I would share from there. As I read Philippians 1 it was so apparent to me how similar Paul and Virgil seemed to be with their desire to serve The Lord and spread the gospel. Paul had his imprisonment in this book and Virgil has his Cancer. Both of them used the adversity in their life to share the gospel and to encourage others to do so. Both realized their desire to go and be with The Lord but knew their time wasn't yet and continued in their faithfulness and obedience to proclaim the gospel to all, and it that they rejoiced, because whether in life or death they were giving God glory in what they did.
As I got to California and the service I wondered how I was going to deliver Virgil's eulogy without crying like a baby. The Lord is so kind and good that he sustained me and the other speakers and allowed us get through our words about Virgil. The Gospel was shared three times with folks in attendance, once through my Eulogy, once through Virgil's Father's Eulogy and the last time through the words of the Pastor as he delivered his message to those in attendance. It was such a beautiful service, it honored Virgil and gave God glory. The Lord was working in all the words that were shared and I believe many left that Church challenged and seeking God in thought and my prayer is\was they would seek God prayerfully in repentance.
I spoke with Virgil's wife and she gave me the blessing to share the eulogy I delivered at the service here with you all. I pray that this blog post is honoring to Virgil and gives God glory and that it will be used by God for whatever He wants. Please continue to lift up Kelli and their kids as they adjust to life without Virgil. He is greatly missed and will be but we take comfort in his eternal reward and that we can rejoice with him when Christ returns or when we are called home to The Lord.
Some of you may like to see the slide show that was used during the celebration of life service, you can see the pictures here, they are such a blessing to see and share with all of you.
I pray that you will take the time to read the below eulogy about my relationship with Virgil, or SaulBecomesPaul, as some of you knew him and be challenged by it and grow closer to The Lord.
Grace and Peace
Ben - Death is Gain
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Virgil, was referred to as SaulBecomesPaul in the gaming world, he came up with this name because of the Damascus like encounter with Christ that he had in a hospital many years ago with his oldest, Trinity who was real sick. Virgil cried out to Christ in prayer and The Lord heard his prayer and granted her recovery and opened Virgil’s eyes to his sin that was separating him from Christ and Virgil repented and put his trust in Christ and began growing in The Lord.
Virgil was my best friend, my brother in Christ, or as we both told each other, “my brother from another mother”. God planned that Virgil and I would cross paths across the country through a video game and some Christian fellowship online. What came next was iron sharpening iron. We pushed each other and challenged each other in our studies of God’s Word, in memorization of Scripture, in finding creative ways to share the gospel and witness to those around us. We prayed for one another and our families. We shared so much with one another and had so many things in common it was as if we were truly brothers.
Virgil and I created a Video Game outreach together called DiG – which stood for Death is Gain, from Philippians 1:21 – To me, to live is Christ, to die is gain. Virgil and I often spoke of this verse and chapter and what it really meant. We sought out people we could find in our lives, whether that was work, the store, in passing, wherever we could go, either with a gospel tract in hand or back pocket or with the gospel on the tip of our tongue to share with those that The Lord would put in our path. We used our Xbox’s to share the gospel with people and those who came alongside us and joined the ministry we would help teach and disciple them to what God’s Word said and teach them what we had learned. We received training from Living Waters and both attended open air preaching & evangelism training. We took what we learned seriously and we did what scripture commanded, to “go”, to go into all world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.
Virgil and I partnered in sharing the Gospel when we first met and we tried to give God glory in what we did, we didn’t want to do it for pats on the back or for our own selfish prideful reasons. We shared the gospel with people because we knew that sin separated people from God, lying, stealing, blasphemy, in fact if you have broken just one law you are guilty of breaking them all. I know that Virgil’s salvation was eternal and that God finished it.
Virgil had a concern for others in what they knew and followed and he wanted people to understand Christ and the Gospel with a passion that could only be supplied by Jesus Christ.
From Philippians 1:12-14
12 I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, 13 so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. 14 And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.
Virgil used his Cancer to reach the lost. He was such an inspiration in ways that I tried to describe to others but could never really explain what God did in my life as a result of Virgil and his peace that God gave him. This is an excerpt from his second blog post why does melanoma happen to good people part 2
For those that don't know, last year I was diagnosed with a type of cancer called melanoma. Thankfully, that trial has only served to bolster my faith. It has recently returned and like I said before when I thought it was gone, Praise God!! Why praise Him you might ask? Well, this will give me a chance to share the gospel with a new set of doctors, nurses and other patients!! Now, don't let the title of this article fool you. I have zero ideas that I am a good person and I am fully aware that I deserve far worse than this. Like R.C. Sproul has said, "Why do bad things happen to good people? It only happened once, and He (Jesus) volunteered." Nevertheless, the question always arises. "Why do bad things happen to good people?" This is a big stumbling block for atheists, keeping them from repenting and trusting in Jesus. This could also be an issue for those who are young in the faith. So, my hope is not only to address that question but also show non-believers God's greatness through this trial and to encourage Christ followers through trials similar to this.
Virgil grew in his faith and used his cancer to spread the Gospel and give God glory, while others heard about this and saw the example, much like Paul’s imprisonment to advance the gospel. Virgil encouraged those outside that were cancer free to be bold and get in their Bibles, get out there and share your faith as we were commanded to with everyone. This was so important to both of us because Hebrews 9:27 tells us this, “we die once than we are judged” so if sinners do not see what separates them, if they do not hear the bad news first, they will not understand the good news and what Jesus did on the cross. Jesus was the perfect sacrifice for you and me.
We encouraged one another and preached Christ crucified and we rejoiced in God’s sovereignty and that HE was in control not us. We thanked HIM that we were just broken vessels used for HIS glory.
Virgil had confidence in his deliverance, it was a win-win situation… if it goes away he wins and can continue sharing the Gospel, if it doesn’t than he gets to be with God. All of your prayers brought him such joy.
From Philippians 1:20-21
20 as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
Virgil wanted Christ honored no matter the consequence, whether through life or death. This was the crux for Virgil and I in what we built DiG on as I mentioned earlier.
I know there were times where he just wanted to go home to The Lord, but he pressed on and loved his family and friends and the lost, so he would encourage, build up and share the gospel as often as he could
If Christ calls you to suffer, my prayer is that you do so in a manner that pleases God and that we can praise God in that suffering and grow in our faith and reliance on Him
I want to leave you with a quote from another blog post that Virgil wrote, he starts out in God’s Word:
John 16:33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world." This may be hard to swallow for some (like the cottage cheese mixed with flax seed oil my beautiful bride has been feeding me lol). Just know that I write this not for my own good but for the others out there who are either lost or are going through a sickness or trial. Like the flax seed oil for me, if you fully digest what I am telling you here it will be good for you. If you've ever come to Christ for a wonderful plan or a better life, something like melanoma can be a faith shaking, deal breaker for you. That's because none of that is promised in the bible. We broke God's Law and Jesus paid the fine as the perfect substitute and sacrifice for our sins. That's the message. Just look above at what Jesus promises his followers in John chapter 16. "In the world you WILL have tribulation." Doesn't sound like a wonderful plan or a better life to me. However if you repent and put your faith in Christ because you see your sins as exceedingly sinful, knowing that the road will be full of trials and tribulations, you will be comforted that He has overcome the world, looking forward to the day you go to spend eternity with Him. You will be able to look at anyone with full assurance and say, "For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain!"
If that is you today and you need to get right with God, seek HIM, seek HIM here, seek HIM now, don’t let the sun go down before you cry out to God and repent of what you have done wrong, your sin is against God who created you and everything around you. Repent and believe so that your sins may be blotted out.
Virgil has now gained his reward and carries forth Philippians 1:21 to me to live is Christ and to die is gain.
May our grieving be honoring yet brief as we look towards where our Husband, Father, Son, Brother, Grandpa and friend is and how he gained his reward through the finished work of Christ on the cross. May we all be as bold as Virgil and encouraged to "go" and proclaim The Gospel to all creation. I Love you brother, till Christ returns or calls me home.