More from my autobiography, “From Canterbury to then Ends of the Earth and Back”
During these years of our ministry in our country both our boys, J and N believed the Lord was calling them to come back to our country to serve Him there. They were uniquely equipped for this, having grown up in the culture and speaking the language like natives without any foreign accent. They were truly “international people,” having firsthand experience of living in multiple cultures.
The local believers agreed that the boys were a “new breed” of worker. One local believer introduced N to a friend, saying, “This is my American friend, but he’s not a foreigner!”
We thought for sure that with their great qualifications both boys would be able to raise support easily and quickly. Churches would surely see them as a great “investment,” since they could step off the plane and immediately be actively engaged in ministry, needing very little cultural or language training.
However, the Lord had other plans for them. He knew that they needed time to mature and He knew how to accomplish that, in part by the ministry he had for them in the States.
Both boys spent time living on the farm in CT, where they willingly helped my sister Andrea with the care of my aging father and mother.
For one year J came to our country to work as a teacher in the MK (mis-nary kid) school our group ran. During that time he was unjustly arrested and expelled. This action was an attempt by the government to force workers out of the country by shutting down the MK schools.
It was a traumatic experience for J to be escorted by a policeman right to the door of the plane where the stewardess has to sign for him, and then to be flown out of the country, not knowing if he would ever be allowed to return. But return he did, several years later.
As both of our sons were rapidly approaching their thirties with no potential wives in sight, Barbara and I continued to pray for the Lord to provide spouses for them. We’d actually started praying specifically for this before the boys were born and had confidence that He would provide for them in His perfect timing—if His design for them were marriage.
J had had two relationships that hadn’t worked out; then a third girl had declined his offer to pursue a relationship with him. So he was now “gun shy.”
We knew a girl who, in our minds at least, seemed just right for him. S was a young friend of Barbara’s whom we considered as our “adopted” daughter, a part of the family already. I suggested to J that he consider a relationship with her, and she had all the qualities he had told us he wanted in a wife. She was a committed and growing believer, had already worked in the country for several years, knew the language well, was involved in ministry, was a member of our group and was fully supported. But he was reluctant, fearful of another rejection.
Finally S herself suggested they pursue a friendship and one of the things they decided to do was to read together the book, “Boy Meets Girl” by Josh Harris. They slowly worked their way through it, using it as a stimulus to discuss important issues and to get to know each other.
In the last chapter they were instructed to ask someone older for advice about taking the next step of commitment, so they came to me. My advice was for each of them to take a piece of paper and draw a line down the middle. On one side they were to write all the positive reasons for their getting married and on the other, the negatives. They both came back with a long list of positives, while each had only one reason against marrying,a financial one.
“Well, that issue is easily resolvable,” I said, and helped them see how they could work out a solution. It still took J a while to work up his courage to pop the question, but when he finally did, S didn’t have to think twice before saying, “Yes!”
Having friends and family in three widely dispersed places, they decided to have three wedding celebrations! The first one was held in Connecticut at our home church. It was a very nice time, attended by many friends and family members. One highlight for us was that Dr. Goodell, who had given us advice at our wedding, read the same advice to J and S.
The actual legal wedding took place in S’s home church in Maine, another very nice event with family and friends from both sides coming to celebrate with Josh and Sarah. The ceremony was a joyful one, filled with lots of uplifting songs and words of encouragement .
When they returned to our country as a married couple, we had the third celebration of their marriage at the International Church in our city. For us, it was actually the most special celebration because all the people we’d worked with over the last twenty- plus years were there to celebrate with us as our extended family. It was a wonderful time
Picture J&S’s Maine (main) wedding