I heard yesterday that Vernon Higham has died at 89 years of age, he is the last of his generation of ministers in Wales. For 40 years he was the minister of Heath and as long as I can remember he has always seemed old. I didn’t attend the Heath when I was in Cardiff, but lots of my friends did and my wife was part of the church for 4 years. Mr Higham showed us nothing but kindness infact the Welsh dresser in our dining room was given to us by the Higham’s.
I had been a minister for a couple of years when I went to see Mr Higham on a Monday. I’m not really sure why I wanted to see him but I drove down to Cardiff, he was living in the home that they had retired to in Thornhill. We talked for a few hours and I remember not agreeing with some of the things he was saying however he said one thing that has stayed with me ever since and has been an enormous help.
I asked him what do you do when you get up on a Monday and feel depressed about how Sunday has gone? I was expecting sympathy and some pious advice, he lent forward and with a smile said ‘who cares how you feel’. It was exactly the right thing to say and I knew instantly he was right. I often say to myself on a Sunday night and a Monday morning when I’m tempted to self pity ‘who cares how you feel’.
I don’t agree with everything Mr Higham stood for and some of the decisions he made. I think it’s fair to say there was a sadness about his latter years when they could have been so much better. What is undeniable is there was a period in his ministry when he was greatly used by God. Many people came to faith under his ministry. I heard him once on a Good Friday morning with Alun Ebenezer when we were both teenagers and Mr Higham preached on ‘Christ Jesus came into this world to save sinners’, it was electric, we knew we had heard a man speak of the things of God in a way that we’d not known.