As I was telling Eric about the purpose of this blog and "Eric, you need to read this post." Eric said, "Dad I have lived it." What he was saying is "I’ve been a part of this family for thirty-five years." And Chad was the one who really encouraged me to write this stuff down.
I am not sure where Charity learned to be a wife, a mother, and a Pastor’s wife, but from the reports from her husband, children, and church members, she has been a model example. (*I learned from my grandmothers, mother and mother-in-law and other godly women in our churches.)
Before I address Charity’s role in this ministry, let me say an insufficient amount of words about another wonderful example of a mother, and pastor’s wife-- my mother. There are not enough words that I could describe the beauty of my mother.
Why does it take children to become adults before they can see how wonderful their mother was when they were kids? From the beginning I was always a dad’s son. He was my life as a child. I modeled my whole life around dad, but it was mom who gave me life, and character and love.
Mom must have been a Christian early in life. She was even going to be a preacher in those early years, and she would have been a good one, too. When she met my dad as a young girl, she was already studying the Bible at College. Mom starting playing the piano for dad in his tent meetings in North Carolina.... and she played the piano for the next fifty years.
Mom taught me Bible stories that I still remember today. When I am preaching and there is a story in the text, I have flashbacks of the story in my mind, the way mom used to teach.
My dad was on the radio for a number of years, and mom was very active with dad . She was a distinguished writer and an excellent singer. (When I get my research complete about dad and mom I will write a better article) Mom was like Charity-- never grouchy about going wherever dad went. And dad was always going somewhere, pastoring this church and then another church, or starting this church, and then moving to another city. And mom would go with him.
I must have been my dad’s child. Because since we have been in ministry, we have moved a dozen plus times over the last thirty-seven years. Charity doesn’t know how long we will be in any given church. As I look back over the years, it was just accepted that where the Lord called we would go. When we left a church to go to another place, Charity just went.
The year was 1970. Charity had a 1965 yellow Corvair Monza and we took off from Fort Worth to Wooster. Before we arrived, there was no heat in the car, and the brakes had gone out by the time we pulled up into the church’s parking lot. It was really cold and snow was on the ground. We found out that the preacher cut our salary in half even before we started. I worked part time at Hawkin’s Grocery Store for a while, until I felt lead to quit and work at the church by faith. The next week, Charity tells me she is expecting a child.
So off we go to West Portsmouth, Ohio, in March 1971 and thanks to her mom and dad we had a place to stay. We stayed over the Pizza Shop, where her mom and dad owned a pizza business. Eric learned to sleep over the sound of pizza pans banging below.
Oh! A job! I checked out several churches in the area, and finally decided to try out at Madison Baptist Church in Minford Ohio, not far from West Portsmouth in June of 1971. It was a decent cinder block building, no running water, and two outhouses in the back. (* That is where the Lord taught me a valuable lesson while painting the outhouse fences. Sharon Vest painted the men’s fence and I painted the women’s fence. I was "Miss Picky" and was determined to do a perfect job. Sharon got the job done an hour before I did. So what if there were some paint drips on the grass! Once it was mowed what difference did it make? LESSON: You don’t have to be a perfectionist about everything. Do the best you can and in some areas, Good enough is good enough.) And twelve people voted for us to come to pastor, and they were willing to pay me five dollars a week. Plus a house that was owned by one of the deacons. So Charity and I and Eric go to Minford.
WHY CHURCHES CALL PASTORS, AND WHY PREACHERS GO TO THE CHURCH?
Really, things were going well for the first six months. Charity got a job at her aunt Betty’s pizza shop, and I took Eric in his baby carrier and set him on the front pew of the church while I preached on Wednesday night. Thanks to Sharon Vest and her mom and dad, Everett Vest, for taking care of us for the next few years.
Now let us see, Fort Worth, Wooster, West Portsmouth, Minford, Porstmouth, all in three years. Charity is still dangling in there. Do you wonder why preachers’ wives wouldn’t like to leave their husbands? Why they wouldn’t encourage their husbands to get into another profession?
While I was having a great time preaching, not realizing the hardship this was on Charity. What I didn’t realize was that the difficulty at the church, was precipitating Charity’s emotions. Although I was overlooking plenty of the challenges at the church, Charity was taking all this personally. Charity was never going to get personally involved in the challenges with the people. Often in churches, the pastor’s wife will try to run interference for the pastor, and cause more trouble. Wives leave their husbands or harass them until their husbands leave the ministry. And in many cases, do you blame them?
This was our third stop in ministry, and many more yet to come, but at this point Charity and Eric were doing okay, and we are now getting ready to discover the next place of ministry the Lord has for us in 1974. That will be for the next time......
Is there a message here? How could we have averted all this in the first place? What kind of training could we have taken that would have avoided our experiences?
What kind of advice would I give young preachers and his wife about ministry? What kind of advice would I give preachers before they accept a call to a church to be their pastor or be on the staff?
How should Bible Colleges and Seminaries and churches give advice to new preachers how to contend with ministry in churches?
I was totally clueless about pastoring people I guess. I definitely believed I was equipped to do ministry, and I wish somehow we could have been able to communicated better. What I can say is this. Many of the ideas and planning that I had hoped to see happen at Madison, and was the cause of unsettledness, subsequently after I left, those very things were implemented by the church.
I can’t say that I really believed the Lord wanted us to go or not to go to Madison Baptist Church, or any other church we have been to. The issue was that I wanted to be in ministry and preach the gospel of Jesus Christ.
I had hypothesized, not really, I imagined I was prepared for ministry because of the success we had in my father’s church. I had seen my dad and mom, they were an illustration of good parents. And dad was a prototype pastor. My mom was a great mom and pastor’s wife. Even to this day, I believe that.
This article’s events ended June 1974. Charity and I were still married. Eric is three years old. Charity is working still at the A Plant. My mother and sixteen year old sister have come to live with us. And I am looking for a place to nevertheless minister in another church.