We were Diamonds in the Rough! Really rough!
But, to God be all glory, we just celebrated our Diamond Anniversary!
(In a nutshell…)
I graduated from high school on Saturday afternoon, June 16, 1956, in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. Sunday morning found me driving down to Milwaukee in my just-purchased, 4-year old green Studebaker coupe, picking up a share rider to California. I dropped him off in Los Angeles and arrived in San Diego on Wednesday, June 20th. My brother had invited me to live with him to make and save money for college. The Yellow Pages (remember them?) found a good church of our denomination.
How was I to know what would happen next?
I was sitting in the Sunday School class for young adults. (I was an 18-year-old kid…yes, 18 was ‘a kid’ in those days.) In that same classroom was a young lady who had moved to San Diego with her parents the year before. She was home for the summer. During greeting time this young lady who had already spent one year away at college, introduced herself to me: “I am the pastor’s daughter. I tell that to people because if I don’t, the other kids will tell you.” So…so what? I thought. Unknown to me, she knew who I was! (My uncle, a professor at the college she attended, had told her about my coming.) And now, having watched me from the choir loft during her dad’s sermon, she went home from church that Sunday and told her mother, “I think maybe I could marry that man!”
A whirlwind summer in San Diego and we were both off to college! By then, we were pretty sure this was more than a summer friendship. By October, we were secretly engaged. It could not be publically announced until a holiday, and that with the administration’s permission. So, our first joint Christmas card shared the good news. On June 8, 1957, we made our commitment to each other…for better or worse, in sickness and in health…’til death do us part. We were mere nineteen-year-old diamonds in the rough! Three more years of full time college and working full time (4-12 midnight) and two children (Kevin and Greg) later, we both graduated with BA degrees (debt free), ready to “take on the world!” Little did we know all that God had in mind!
Three years of middle school teaching in Las Vegas, Nevada gave me the experience to apply for a California Teacher’s Credential. I had also begun work on a Masters degree. And our third son, Byron, was born. The next three years were middle school teaching in Torrance, California and completing my Master’s at Pepperdine College (before it went to Malibu and became a university). The work also qualified me for my California Administrative Credential. A search began for an assistant principal’s position. I was a signature away from that position when my uncle called. (That same professor-uncle who talked to Yvonne about me.) After the appropriate congratulations, he asked, “Have you ever considered Christian school?” My response was quick and to the point: “No I haven’t and I don’t intend to!” Two months later and a whole lot of prayer, I was principal of Westminster Christian Schools! That lasted for five years. During that time we adopted our daughter, Tamara Dawn.
Public school for one year. Then off to teach missionary children in Peru. Called home after two years by Chuck Smith to start Maranatha Christian Academy in Costa Mesa. After a good two-year start, we were off to Brazil in an emergency situation as principal of one and superintendent of five schools for missionary children. Home, again in 2½ years, I thought to start another elementary school, this time in San Diego. The pastor did not have a facility for a school, nor a core student body, though he had many who wanted to teach in Christian school.
But, he had just started the San Diego School of Evangelism. He asked me to take the leadership of that fledging program. The program had a very strong emphasis on cross-cultural ministry. My fifth year there, we fielded 23 full-time missionaries, several who are still on the field!
And, after five years with that ministry, EMMAUS ROAD INTERNATIONAL was birthed!
Thus, for the last 34 years, Yvonne and I have been enjoying a wild and wonderful “ride” on the Emmaus Road. God has taken us around the world…literally! Several times! We have written five books. One has been translated into 21 languages. Yvonne has led 50 ministry trips. We have helped to train hundreds of missionaries; thousands of partners to missionaries. Through the one book, Serving As Senders~Today, we have launched a new initiative of missionary care, focusing on the personal-relational level of care. Seminars, conferences, webinars, CDs and DVDs, published journal articles. A company wants to make a movie of one of our books.
What the Lord has for us in the days and years to come is solely in His hands. And that is where we rest…in His hands. The best place to be! For His glory.
We just enjoyed a three-day holiday on Catalina Island. At 8 o’clock in the evening of June 8th (the exact hour of our marriage sixty years before), we watched pictures of our wedding copied over the audiotape of our wedding. (Let us know if you would like a digital copy of that recording.)
In the process of these sixty years, there has been intense grinding and polishing of the rough edges of those “diamonds.” And, we are still a “work in process!” If you would like a longer version (or details of any aspect), let us know. We will be happy to share more to the glory of God! For, in all, we acknowledge: Great things He has done! (Psa 71:19)