A Tribute to Nellie Johnson Vandeman

December 19, 1916--July 25, 2001

By the Journal staff

Nellie Florence Johnson was born on Decerliber 19, 1916 in Beloit, Wisconsin, the fourth of seven children born to Inga and Sverre Johnson. Nellie was baptized at age 12 and then drifted away from the church during her high school years.

On Easter Sunday of 1937, she was involved in a serious car accident that caused her to think very seriously about her life and future. She went to camp meeting that summer where she rededicated her life to the Lord. While there, she met a recruiter for Emmanuel Missionary College who inspired her to attend college.

The first Saturday night, Nellie sat in the packed EMC auditorium as a short speech was given by another student—George Vandeman. Nellie later recalled that "as he walked out on the platform and started to speak, a hush fell over the auditorium. I won't tell you what came to my mind! (I'm sure many other girls had the same thought!) Little did I dream then that I would marry this young man!"

Several months later, George launched his first radio broadcast in connection with a public evangelistic crusade in nearby Elkhart, Indiana. Nellie was among the students who would gather in the lounge of the dormitory and listen to the broad­casts. One night Nellie was invited to help. "George asked if I could be one of the regular helpers each Sunday night. Could I! I was thrilled! That was the beginning of our very special friendship!"

George and Nellie were married October 2, 1938. After two years in pastoral evangelism, they returned to EMC where George finished college, then went on to get his Master of Arts degree from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

After four years teaching evangelism and speech at EMC the Vandemans were invited to move to Washington, DC where George worked in evangelism training for the Ministerial Association at the world head­quarters of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

The years 1952 and 1953 saw Nellie and George doing very successful evangelism in England. Returning, George was asked to prepare 13 pilot television programs. The It Is Written telecast started out small, but gradually spread to many parts of the world. Nellie reflected, "I never doubted for a minute that George was called by God to do this work. I didn't travel extensively with George until 1974 when my life changed drastically as we started holding Revelation Seminars. Oh, the wonderful experiences we had!"

In 1981 came the Teleseminars uplinked to cover 22 cities from Los Angeles and San Francisco to New York and Montreal. Again God blessed in a remarkable way!

The years following brought increasing global travel to the Vandemans. Nellie often accompanied her husband to the many strategic events that marked the continuous expansion of the It Is Written telecast. She dearly loved her husband and his ministry. She loved her family. She loved her God!

Nellie waged a courageous battle against Alzheimers Disease from 1996 on. She passed away peacefully in her sleep at 7:05 am Wednesday, July 25. Nellie is survived by four children: George, Ron, Bob and Connie; seven grandchildren; five great-grandchildren; relatives and a host of friends.