September 2006

Some things in life rate extra special and fifty years of happy marriage stand high on the list. Going about life today as total white-haired strangers to others, we even find ourselves being made over as so “cute and unusual,” because of the way we act with each other! To us it’s normal; maybe that’s what makes us so abnormal in the eyes of a society that is so accustomed to broken homes.

While training for the ministry in college, I didn’t have a lot of time to think about a future wife, and, frankly, I just didn’t find the right one! After graduating from college, I went to El Dorado, Kansas, and worked in the establishment of my first church, Temple Baptist Church. My dear mother was most concerned with her son and feared that he had some aversion to marriage. Again, I was terribly busy pastoring, working on a church building and then working as an electrician to keep body and soul together. And, frankly, I just hadn’t met the right one.

That “deplorable state of affairs” dragged on until I went to a nearby country area to play the piano and organ for a revival meeting being conducted by my home pastor and another pastor friend who was leading the singing and singing (he had a lovely Italian singing voice). A high school senior in the area wanted to attend those meetings but had to finish a lot of ironing before she would be allowed to do so. Her church didn’t care much for “revival meetings,” and this young lady had dared to question the assertion of her pastor that Jesus was not born of a virgin!

I barely met that unusual young lady at the last of those meetings. But a mutual pastor friend would later play cupid and got us together. Our “courting days” took place on a red sofa in the front room of her home where I taught her the book of Romans and where we talked about what we might do with our lives. I discovered that this young lady had a tremendous love for Christ. In fact, she had long prayed to marry a preacher and made herself available to serve Christ even on the mission field if He so commanded.

It was a hot day in July fifty years ago when we committed to love and treasure each other until death changed things. Our honeymoon of three days was nourished with watermelon and baloney sandwiches! Our salary was $15 per/week at Temple Baptist Church. But never have we been happier than we were in those days.

Kathleen has ever been a dedicated wife, so unselfish with me, and never has she balked at any price we needed to pay to serve God. First it was as a pastor’s wife in El Dorado, then preparation for Lebanon when she got her Bible college training while I was on deputation, then seventeen strenuous years in Lebanon. Following that brush with death, it has been thirty years in Australia with great blessing as well as great trials.

She has been so unselfish in giving herself to our wonderful daughters and in serving a sick husband for most of the Australian experience. Sixteen years ago she became the sole driver to get me everywhere I needed to go. With my damaged sight and hearing, she is a veritable external eye and ear to me. She is a jewel in the crown of ministry to which we’ve been privileged to participate, and she is ever that dedicated home maker and companion with whom it is a joy to share life.

God has been so gracious to us. We celebrated fifty wonderful years with another wonderful day. It is, indeed, very “cute and unusual” in a day when marriage has become so trite and fickle. May God bless Kathleen and give her many more spiritual sons and daughters who are influenced by her life and example. She is, as Proverbs 31:30 says, greatly to be praised. I thank God every day for her; “Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.”