When I married Don, I knew that he was moving toward some form of ministry as a life vocation, but I didn’t know for sure the specific form it would take. I knew only that he was a ministerial student and would have several years of education to finish.
I also knew from the start that I would support him in whatever work he felt called to do. That was the way most wives felt back in the forties of the last century.
I was a primary school teacher when we were married and he was a student and staff member at Lorne Park College west of Toronto, Ontario. After we lived there three-and-a-half years, we went on to Greenville College in Illinois with our two-year-old daughter, Carolyn, so Don could finish his final two years of college. From there, we went on to Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky, for another three years of training.
By then it was clear that the focus of his ministry was to be the pastorate. In fact, he was assigned to be pastor of the Free Methodist church in Lexington, nearby, for his three years of seminary, and that’s when I got my first taste of what it meant to stand with him in that sort of ministry.
Besides caring for the three little children we had by then and taking as much of the burden of the household as I could while he studied, I made myself available to teach Sunday School and often entertained seminary students on Sundays so they could canvass the community with my husband.
When we went to our second church, the Free Methodist church in New Westminster, British Columbia, I discovered what standing by my pastor husband really meant. He led the church in a growth spurt that meant new prospects every Sunday, new programs to meet the needs of a growing congregation, and lots of social entertaining in our parsonage to get to know newcomers and otherwise promote fellowship and community.
One aspect of our experience stands out in my mind. We both worked hard at our assignment and my husband did lots of evening calling to follow up on new prospects and care for other pastoral duties. This usually involved two or three nights a week. During these times, I was at home alone with our four little children.
It wasn’t that we didn’t have time together. He was home for the noon and evening meals most days. We had simple, inexpensive, but good vacations together. We certainly were in touch with each other in the social life of the church.
But one night when my husband was out calling and I had put the children to bed and the house was quiet, I found myself wondering, “What is this all about anyway? I don’t like being alone so much in the evenings. There’s got to be more to life than this.”
After musing about this for some time I suddenly said to myself, “When I free my husband to be out doing the Lord’s work like this, I am really a part of that call he’s making. It is my ministry too.” That set my heart at rest. I never after that had the same feeling of personal deprivation about releasing him to work in the harvest field of the
Lord. And such mutual service has enriched our nearly 62 years together.