Pastoring Second Ebenezer Church in Michigan for more than 40 years, Bishop Edgar L. Vann, has done nearly everything. From marrying couples, burying the dead, helping his congregation walk through some of their most difficult times, the senior pastor of the Second Ebenezer Church is a man of knowledge, heart and wisdom. It is that wisdom that has grown over the years, especially a few short years ago when he medically died.
In hi book entitled, “I Did It to Myself,” The True Confessions of an Overachiever, he shared with the world the best story that he has ever told. He chose to write a tell-all book about his life, a product of a “life to death and “back to life” experience that changed his perspective on the nature of work, career commitment and his personal goals and ultimately, the meaning of success.
According to the Michigan Chronicle, Vann devoted his time to his ministry and the call on his life, Vann’s daily work schedule was nonstop with the growth of the ministry and his civic involvement. Being busy became very strenuous and demanding throughout the years. This same schedule that was the blessing throughout the span of his career had become a major contribution to his severe health scare. One New Year’s Eve service, Vann’s life changed completely after a life-altering moment when he collapsed during church in front of his congregation. With a health emergency: “sudden cardiac death” a rare form of heart failure, his heart stopped and there was no pulse, no consciousness and no breathing for three minutes. Without any warning signs or pains, sweating or tingling, which are signs that something is going wrong with the heart.
While this was rare where it happened, Bishop’s heart failure and others like it are becoming far too common.
Heart failure is more prevalent in African Americans than in whites, imposes higher rates of death and morbidity, and has a more malignant course. According to American Heart Association statistics, the annual incidence of heart failure in whites is approximately 6 per 1,000 personyears, while in African Americans it is 9.1 per 1,000 person-years.
In the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities study, the incidence of new heart failure was 1.0 per 1,000 personyears in Chinese Americans, 2.4 in whites, 3.5 in Hispanics, and 4.6 in African Americans.
Followed by a back-to-life recovery on the floor of the church, Second Ebenezer’s First Response Medical Team who are registered nurses and a few physicians went into action immediately. The team responded and with the help of a trained young lady doing CPR, Vann was given a second chance at life. This would be the wake-up call to the man who felt like he could do it all. This was the practical guide to breaking out of the prison of overwork and needless stress. It was time to change what he knew as the norm.
“This health challenge recovery compelled me to evaluate life forever from a fresh perspective. Sometimes we have this syndrome called “I don’t, it won’t.” So often we feel if we don’t do it ourselves, it won’t get done. I was so used to just doing it myself that it became natural. I knew if I did it, it would be done oppose to asking or waiting for someone else to do it. This syndrome has messed a lot of us up today, because it doesn’t give us the ability to learn how to delegate to others and just simply ask for help.”
“Delegating properly or allowing others to help releases tension and stress from the visionary who is caring out the vision. It also allows us to free up time to still work in our calling, gifts and talents, while still maintaining stability without overdoing it. I have always looked at myself as a multi-talented multi-tasker who thought I could do it all. You get up, you go to work, you come home, deal with what you need to deal with at the house and you go back to bed. You wake up and start all over the next morning, it becomes a cycle. I never knew being a do it all- “work martyr” leads to a dead end.” says Vann.
Changing his life has been one of the most precious things to him because it allowed him to adjust and live a better life by putting the important thing first, which was himself and his health. Vann’s reasoning behind the book “I Did It To Myself” is to inform, infuse and inspire someone along their journey and to help them not make the same mistakes he’s made along the way. Building a ministry with over 3,500 congregants, the pastoral side of him has