As previously shared, I grew up in a small Methodist church called Moorefield Methodist Church. Dorothy was born in Rhyl, North Wales, and following the death of her oldest brother, Alan, her family immigrated to Sydney, Australia. They almost went to Thunder Bay in Canada, just across the border from Minnesota.
Eventually, her parents bought a house just down the road from the church I attended. So it was there that we met. I often say that bringing her to my church saved me from going all the way to Wales to find her.
We were both in the youth group, which was called “Wesly Guild.” After a while, we became a pair. Dorothy was only about 14 years of age when we started going together. When my daughters turned 14, I wondered why our parents let us do that. We ended up with a long courtship until we were married in 1958. She was 20, and I was 23.
We had purchased some land in a suburb called Padstow Heights to build a house, which I had the pleasure of designing. It was only small, a kind of starter home. While it was being built, we lived in a 20x10ft garage on the land, through one hot summer and a cold winter (at least by Sydney standards).
So, we settled down. By now, I had finished my schooling and was working as an architect. Our first child Beth was born in 1961. We enjoyed our first home and spent time landscaping and developing the property.
But then life changed as God led me into the ministry (We will save that story for later), and in 1963, I entered Leigh Theological College to train for the Methodist Ministry. I was appointed a student pastor in a nearby Methodist circuit, and Dorothy became a pastor’s wife. Life would never be the same again.
Over 60 years later, I look back and realize how important it was that I married Dorothy. Our gifts and ministries complemented each other, and quite honestly, I doubt I could have been involved in all I was over the years without the love, support, encouragement, prayers, counsel, and even correction of my wife.
CHANGES ALONG THE WAY
Now, sometimes people give the impression everything is smooth sailing when you get married, like the fairy tale ‘and they lived happily ever after.’ That wasn’t the case with us. In fact, over the years, friction developed between us in how we each thought and acted. Let me share an important example.
Dorothy was ‘black and white’ in her thinking; something was either right or wrong. I used to ask, “Why are you so rigid about things?” On the other hand, I was much more flexible and could change more quickly. As Dorothy so beautifully described it, “Why are you so wishy-washy?”
I have discovered that you not only need love in a marriage, you also need truth. It was about this time in the early 70s that I was invited to be a speaker at the Annual Four Square Church Camp. The main speaker was Don Pickerill from America. He had what was for me a brand new concept concerning “Motivational Gifts.” (This was initially presented by Bill Gothard of Basic Youth Conflict). I purchased the whole set of tapes on this new subject of motivational gifts.
Not long after that, Dorothy and I went on a trip in preparation for a ministry God was calling us into. We started off traveling from Sydney to Adelaide in our new camper van to visit churches in several large cities. As we drove, we played the tapes on motivational gifts, and it all came together for us. If you haven’t studied the motivational gifts, it involves 7 personality types, with illustrations from scripture. They are Prophetic Insight, Server, Teacher, Exhorter, Contributor, Facilitator, and Mercy. As we listened, we realized we were two completely different personality types. I was a “Facilitator” personality type, and Dorothy was a “Prophetic Insight” personality type. It wasn’t that one was right, and the other was wrong; we approached life differently. Incidentally have observed people often marry opposites.
During this time, God took us back to my days as an architect, giving us the example of reinforced concrete. Dorothy was the strong, rigid steel, and I was the wishy-washy concrete. Put the two together, and you could build a skyscraper. This set us free. No longer did we try to make the other person conform to our perspective but instead accepted the different gifts of personality that God had given us. We realized that together we could do what God was calling us to do.
DOROTHY’S IMPACT ON MY LIFE AND MINISTRY
Looking back, I can see how marriage to Dorothy impacted my life and ministry. Let me give some examples as I share seven ways she did this.
She recognized God had a special call on my life before I did. I thought I would probably be another Methodist minister, starting with a church out in the country somewhere. However, Dorothy said, “You are not going to be an ordinary pastor. God has something more in store for you.” She believed in me before I believed in myself.
She spiritually pressed on ahead of me. In the early days, she had a spiritual passion in her pursuit of the Lord that I did not share.
- She sought water baptism before I did.
- She sought the baptism of the Holy Spirit before I did.
- She was hearing from God more clearly than I was.
To be honest, it was threatening to have a wife more spiritually discerning than I was. That changed after I got baptized in the Spirit, and a balance came when I realized that we both heard from God, even if in different ways.
She had different giftings and callings to me. Her gifting and calling were in the area of prophetic ministry. My gifting and calling developed into an apostolic ministry. Eventually, we realized God gave us complimentary gifts (like reinforced concrete, steel, and cement placed together). As such, we were stronger together. Consequently, I always had Dorothy on the ministry boards I directed when it was possible.
She often heard from God ahead of me, and it seemed that God was preparing her for the coming change. For example:
- God spoke to her about me becoming the head of Vision Bible College before it actually happened.
- God spoke to her about moving to the other side of the world before I received the call; she was prepared for such a big move.
- God spoke to her when I became pastor of the church in Eden Prairie that we would soon experience difficult times, and we did.
She was a woman of faith and obedience. If you have read Dorothy’s book “Called Together,” then you would have read stories of how she was faced with impossible situations but never gave up. She kept believing in God and seeing the miracles that resulted from her faith and obedience. A number of these situations involved believing God for all that was needed to go on many trips.
One time, she had a “free ticket” (her brother worked for Qantas Airlines) to fly to Australia. She was told there was no space available for two months for that particular ticket. Nevertheless, she went to San Francisco to connect with the flight, and right at the last moment, a seat opened up for her to fly in first class.
She was a wonderful wife and mother. Usually, a person’s family life is critical to the success of their ministry. For over 60 years, Dorothy has been a wonderful wife and mother to our two daughters.
For most of my ministry, I was on the road around the nation and in approximately 40 countries worldwide. It was Dorothy who held the family together, for which I am ever grateful. There was a time in the 1970s when I got too busy, and my priorities got out of whack. I neglected her and my family until God dealt with me, and I sought to change.
She was a woman of prayer. Dorothy prayed for me more than anyone else. We also prayed together, and that undergirded many of our adventures. We found that when we prayed and when we agreed about God saying something to us, we were usually right. When we disagreed, we were often wrong.
A WORD TO SINGLES
I want to say a word to those who are single or never married. Marriage may not be for you, but God has a calling for you that you can reach. You don’t need to be married to have a meaningful life and ministry. In January 2020, I penned an article entitled “In Praise of Single Women.” The article shared how many single women had wonderful ministries. Marriage was for me, but it may not be for everyone.
As I wrote before, I could not have been involved in all that I have been without Dorothy at my side, without her love, support, encouragement, prayers, counsel, and correction.
Proverbs 31 describes a “virtuous wife.” Literally, it means a wife of valor. Proverbs 31:28 says, “Her children arise and call her blessed [her children, grandchildren, and spiritual children call her blessed]; her husband also, and he praises her.”
I certainly do, and I thank God for the gift of Dorothy in marriage together now and for over 60 years, the second foundation stone for my life and ministry.