I have told the story of my call to preach and Virginia’s response many times. I believe that was the secret of our ministry in Japan and for sixty-two years of ministry together.
On Thanksgiving night of 1954, I made my calling to the ministry known to my church. A few weeks later, Virginia went forward and made a public commitment to be the best wife she could possibly be so I could be all that God wanted me to be. Until the morning of July 8, 2017 when she breathed her last breath on this earth, she was faithful to that commitment.
On two different occasions we left everything we had to follow the leadership of God. After my call to preach, we realized I needed to go to Bible college.
I had a good job. We had paid off a small house trailer and had planned to buy a new house. However, we gave the trailer to my parents, quit my job, packed what few things we had into a 1951 Pontiac, and moved to Nortonville, Kentucky. In January of 1956, I enrolled at Bethel Baptist College in Hopkinsville, Kentucky. In that year, I also became a pastor of two part time churches. In addition to that I worked at a service station on Saturday. Virginia was a faithful and praying wife and mother. She was a great asset to my ministry.
After graduation from Bible school while pastoring in Providence, Kentucky God led us to make a very difficult decision to leave the Southern Baptist Convention. We immediately lost all of our friends.
We knew God was leading us to the mission field. After serving two years in an independent Baptist church as the associate pastor, we sold all of our household furniture and moved to Japan in 1965 along with our daughter Renee and our son Tim. Virginia was totally behind the move. It took time, but both Renee and Tim adjusted well to life in Japan. I believe it was because Virginia made Japan our home. She studied Japanese with me and after one year we were able to start a church. Renee and Tim both helped in passing out invitations and gospel literature. Renee became our pianist. God blessed, and we enjoyed many wonderful experiences as a family. Without the help of a godly wife and happy children, I do not believe we would have seen the great results that we saw in that church.
That was what a strong family meant on the mission field. To our surprise, our time in Japan was limited. In 1974, we returned to America. I became the Far Eastern Director and then General Director of BIMI in 1984.
Eventually, both of our children with their mates would serve as missionaries. Even to this day both families are totally involved in world evangelization. I have often said raising children is not an exact science. However, I am thrilled that our children have done well. For that I give God all the glory and Virginia all the credit.
After our children were raised, Virginia was able to travel with me nearly everywhere I went. She was a great blessing to churches all over the world. Her ministry to pastor’s wives was amazing. It is impossible to overestimate the importance of a strong family life for missionaries.