By Message Staff
SABINE PARISH – Longtime evangelist Vernon Stephenson has died from injuries sustained from a weekend car accident.
Stephenson (73) and his wife Rebecca (74) were traveling east on Highway 6 just west of Highway 476 around 12:20 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 9, when the single-vehicle accident occurred. According to a release by the Louisiana State Police, the vehicle exited the right side of the road, hit an embankment and rolled over.
The driver and passenger spoke with Troopers on the scene. Both gave a detailed account of the events that transpired before being transported to LSU Medical Center in Shreveport for treatment. Vernon Stephenson died later that afternoon from his injuries. His wife sustained minor injuries, according to the report.
Stephenson, a vocational evangelist at First Baptist Church in Zwolle and retired missionary at Toledo Bend Baptist Resort Missions, was awarded the “Lifetime Achievement” award at the 2016 State Evangelism Conference in Lafayette on January 27 by the Louisiana Conference of Southern Baptist Evangelists. He served as treasurer of the North Sabine Baptist Association, assisted in the music ministry at First Baptist Zwolle and conducted services at the Many Detention Center multiple times each week.
Ron Thompson, director of missions for District 8 Baptist Convention which includes First Baptist Zwolle, said Stephenson’s legacy will last for years to come, from the inmates he baptized to the visitors who came to Toledo Bend. He said Stephenson had a desire to share the Gospel every day with those he met.
“Every time I saw him, he was always smiling and had true joy in his heart,” Thompson said. “There was never a person he met who didn’t leave a changed person. He was always looking for opportunities for the kingdom to expand.”
Mary Gore, who became the Toledo Bend Resort Missionary in 1993 following Stephenson’s tenure there, said he was well respected by all who knew him throughout Sabine Parish.
“He loved people with the love of Jesus, regardless of what others had done in their lives,” Gore said. “If you knew him, you couldn’t help but love and appreciate him.”
The Sabine Parish Sheriff’s Office posted condolences on their Facebook page.
“It’s with a sad heart that we bid a final farewell to Brother Vernon Stephenson,” the post said. “Brother Stephenson was the Sabine Parish Sheriff’s Department Chaplain for years and he was loved by all who knew him. All were equal in the eyes of Brother Vernon and he brought blessings to hundreds of inmates and countless police officers. 10-7 10-42 DC-36. You are finally home. Rest well in the arms of the Savior.”