By Kathleen G. Bastian
When I married Don, I knew that he was moving toward Christian ministry as a life vocation, but I didn’t know for sure the specific form it would take. I only knew that he was a ministerial student and would have several years of education to complete. I also knew from the start that I would support him in whatever work he believed he was called to do. That was the way most wives felt back in the 1940s.
I was a primary school teacher when we were married; he was a student and staff member at Lorne Park College west of Toronto, Ontario. After three-and-a-half years, we went on to Greenville College (now University) in Illinois with our two-year-old daughter, Carolyn, so Don could finish his final two years of college. From there, we went to Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky, for another three years of training.
By the time he had completed his studies at Asbury it was clear that the focus of his ministry was to be the pastorate. In fact, for those three years of seminary he was assigned to be pastor of the Free Methodist church in nearby Lexington, and that is 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 pursued his studies, I made myself available to teach Sunday school and often entertained seminary students on Sundays so they could remain in the city and 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 it really meant to stand by my pastor husband in ministry. He led the church in a growth spurt that meant new prospects nearly every Sunday, new programs to meet the needs of a growing congregation, and lots of social events 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. Also, we had simple and inexpensive but good vacations together. As well, 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 standing together in mutual service has enriched our nearly 72 years together.
In it all, I learned that when working in the Lord’s service one must leave the results with him.