Verl Sterns, II, of Fort Worth, Texas, passed from this life at age 95 on January 14, 2022. Verl was born on February 9, 1926, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, as the first of four children born to Verl V. Sterns and Mildred DeShaw Sterns.
For nearly seventy-two years, Verl Sterns was an ordained pastor and missionary with Open Bible Churches. He ministered in Africa, Europe, and throughout the U.S., pioneering churches, launching radio, TV, and other ministries, and bringing stability and wise leadership to distressed churches.
His childhood occurred in the Great Depression when life was difficult, but he developed an early passion for God, helping his father bring children to church in an old pickup truck.
During World War II, Verl enlisted in the Army Reserves at age 17. After one semester at Open Bible College in Des Moines, Iowa, he entered active duty upon his 18th birthday. Assigned to a tank battalion, he served in Patton’s Third Army across France, Germany, and Czechoslovakia. His unit liberated Pilsen, Czechoslovakia, and during a 30-day furlough home, the war ended before he would have otherwise gone to the Pacific.
Verl re-entered OBC in 1946, where he met his life-long love of seventy years, Shirley Gorham. They married in 1949 shortly after his graduation and his mother’s untimely death from tuberculosis. Verl and Shirley planted a church in Forest City, Iowa then pastored in Freeport, Illinois. After appointed to serve as missionaries to Guinea, Verl and Shirley with baby Randy, left for France and Wycliffe in England for language training, then to French West Africa.
In Guinea, Verl worked with the Sousou tribe and assisted in translating the Gospel of John for tracts placed into their first written form. When Guinea declared its independence from France, missionaries were forced to leave the field. Two months earlier, Verl, Shirley, Randy, and Mark (born in Guinea) were already in the states on furlough, due to malaria and health complications.
After serving churches in Iowa Falls, Iowa (where Jonathan was born), Perryton, Texas, Pensacola, Florida (where Lisa was born), Klamath Falls, Oregon, and Jefferson, Iowa, Verl continued to serve as an interim or associate pastor in his golden years in Eugene, Oregon, Burbank, California, Belvidere, Illinois and Ithaca, Ohio. He and Shirley spent eighteen years in Bella Vista, Arkansas, a home in the Ozarks that brought back fond memories of their honeymoon days. In 2017, they moved to Fort Worth, Texas.
Verl loved to read and was a disciplined writer; he loved music, Bible teaching and had a keen interest in media ministry and radio that was initiated in his simple boyhood home in Cedar Rapids after his father purchased a used radio. Operated in a home without running water and electricity, car batteries provided radio power and a long wire from the house to the barn served as the antenna. In that home, Dad listened to Charles Leaming from the Waterloo Open Bible Church and a seed was planted. Later in his ministry, he initiated a radio broadcast from the Iowa Falls Open Bible Church, and subsequently conducted regular radio programs in Pensacola, Florida and Klamath Falls, Oregon.
Verl was preceded in death by his father, Verl V. Sterns, his mother Mildred, step-mother Erbelle and his sister, Donna Mozena. He is survived by his brothers David Sterns and Larry Sterns; his children Randy and Janet Sterns, Mark and Paula Sterns, Jonathan and Kitty Sterns, Lisa and Tim Garcia; 14 grandchildren, including Natasha Stringer (Daryl), Anjuli Long (Matthew), Chandler, Tyler, Paige Ripberger (Michael), Emma, Matthew (Marlies), Tyler, David (Jenny), Michael (Mary), Jaclyn, Shannon Santiago (Benjamin), Christian (Raychel) and Justin; and 8 great-grandchildren.
Donations may be made to: Open Bible Missions, 2020 Bell Ave, Des Moines, IA 50315-1096.
Online donations may be made to: https://www.openbible.org/mission/church-and-minister-care
Memorial service YouTube link at 2:00 PM Friday, January 28, 2022.