Where did you grow up? How did where you grew up contribute to preparing you for life in small-town pastoral ministry?
I was born in a small town in Northern California in the early 1960’s to a pastor & wife. In fact, when I was brought home from the hospital, an actual church was my first home! Yes – one of the Sunday School classrooms was my parent’s room, and another was mine. We didn’t live there long after I was born, but it was still my first home! So, I guess you could say that I was born with a love for small rural churches in little towns! My dad pastored two other churches (one in Oregon, and one in northern Idaho) before I went away to college and then married a month after I graduated.
I think that my parents really had a huge influence on my life – to serve in a small, more intimate setting. When a community is small, you run into people you know at cafes, the post office, grocery stores, school events, or just out for a walk. Watching my parents interact with people and becoming true and caring friends with many of them had a tremendous effect on my own desire to be involved in full-time ministry, too. People were always at our home for meals and/or conversations that were valuable. Our lives were constantly intertwined with many around us. My parents proved that they cared about other people and longed to see them come to know the Lord and grow in knowledge, truth, and discipleship. A huge heart burden of mine was formed because I watched my parents live out their Christian values. From my earliest memories, I dreamed of marrying a pastor or missionary. Little did I know that those desires would be fulfilled by God!
Where have you served in ministry? Can you describe the particular culture in those areas and how that affected your ministry there?
My husband and I have served together in four different churches since we were married in 1982. We joined Village Missions, who sends full-time pastors/missionaries to rural America, the often forgotten little areas that need to be loved and cared about. The first was in a small rural town about 12 miles outside of Spokane, Washington. We were elated to be asked to move there. We told Village Missions that we would go anywhere in North America that needed us, and the decision was made on our behalf. I remember pulling in there, late at night with our U-haul and car being pulled. Excitement and anticipation and the “unknowns” were on our minds. In the morning, as the sun rose and shone, we looked out the windows of our new home, to our community. We were already in love! We were very aware that God had sent us there for an important purpose, both in our lives, and the lives of the church and community. There were several hundred people in our community, and we lived there for four years. We LOVED living there and felt that everyone in our little church and community loved us right back. Although we were really young, we felt valued and appreciated by most. Our first two children were born to us at this field of service, which was very special indeed.
How did God bring you to a place of serving in small-town/rural ministry? Did you have any sort of “calling” in this? If so, describe the circumstances.
I grew up with the desire to serve the Lord because of living in a pastor’s home that always talked about missions. We had missions conferences regularly at our church, and missionaries stayed in our home. My dad cared deeply about reaching people with the gospel and we sang songs about serving the Lord a lot at church. We sent letters to missionaries and even sent cassette tapes to them with our voices on them, encouraging them in their work. I knew I wanted to be a missionary as a young child, and that desire continued as I grew up. I wanted to stay in America and reach the forgotten people that lived in little places that didn’t have the gospel in their towns.
How did God bring you and your husband together to serve in this way?
When we met at Bible college, we both had a lot of the same desires given to us from the Lord. We wanted to serve in the church, full-time, with our own God-given gifts. So when we started courting, we knew that this
ministry would be together. We had a week of MISSIONS emphasis, and one of the MANY booths, was the Village Missions booth, so we both spent time at that booth and with the missionary representatives there. A few months later, we were married, and began our internship at a church outside of Portland, Oregon, just one week after our honeymoon!
Did you have any particular areas of ministry in which you served in your church and community and what led you to those decisions?
Tony is a gifted preacher, teacher, and discipler. God radically saved him in 1978, and then he became a sponge to learn as much as he could in as many Christian settings as he could (home groups, services at church, jail ministry, etc). After a few years, he enrolled at the collegiate level. My own service over the years of being a pastor’s daughter was to serve in music, helping with VBS, and doing secretarial services for my dad. My parents hosted a lot of people in our home for meals, Bible Studies, other hospitality — like having missionaries and musicians stay in our home — so it became second nature to want to continue the legacy!
What has been one of your greatest challenges in this ministry context and how did you persevere in it? What did God teach you through it?
I believe that the hardest or most challenging thing for me is when we spend a lot of time with people and get to know them and counsel them, and then trouble comes up in their lives, and they end up leaving the church. Then others ask us why that couple no longer comes, etc. We cannot say anything and just hold it inside. We hurt when people leave our church for any reason, but when we know the issues, it’s complicated because we know the truth and can never reveal it. And we don’t! So others might speculate, or gossip, but we never enter into it. That’s tough stuff! But the Lord certainly experienced that a lot when He lived and walked on this Earth, so I cling to that. His example means everything to
What God teaches me through times like this is that I can ALWAYS trust Him. He’s been a very faithful God in a very unfaithful generation.
What has been one of your greatest blessings in this ministry context and how has that affected your perspective of small-town and rural ministry?
I absolutely love our little town and the people in it. I well up with tears when I picture ever having to leave this place. And I know it’s coming, as we have been here nearly 30 years and are getting closer to retirement age. My greatest blessing is helping people come to know the Lord and helping them grow in Him. Leading God’s people in worship each Sunday is a close second. Our little church loves to sing praises to the Lord and sing in several harmony parts. I have to have tissues at my piano because I never know when the combination of the truths of the songs and the beautiful melodic sounds will capture my immediate attention and I’ll need to grab one! Helping people grow in the Lord is a blessing, too. And loving these people in our town who have never stepped foot in our church is a blessing as well. I LOVE KNOWING the people in our little 1,600-people town. They know they are loved.
If you could give a piece of advice to other rural and small-town pastors’ wives, what would it be and why?
Without a doubt, I would say to keep up your prayer life and hide God’s Word in your heart. Be a picture of the Lord wherever you go and whatever you do. Even when people act like they don’t care about God or church, those people watch us. And when they go through tough times in life, they go to the people with constancy in their lives. They remember that church, your family. All of a sudden, they just might want to reach out to you. REMEMBER that God is faithful 100% of the time, and He will give you strength and will encourage your heart unlike anyone else can. AND when you lack wisdom (which can be often), He will generously supply it to you when you ask Him for it. Please avail yourselves to what He offers! Before you get out of bed and start each day, pray and ask God to use you for whatever He has for you. When we pray that prayer, we will have God-given courage to speak to or do things for others when we feel prompted by Him.
Other info you might want to include: — Married for 37 years –Pastor’s daughter for 57 years — Mother of 4 — Grandma to 3 — Hobbies are piano, baking, photography
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