My Joy, My Love, My Wife

A tribute to Mrs. Virginia Cooper.

Charles S. Cooper

Let me tell you about the girl who became my wife in 1942-58 years ago. I was preparing for the ministry and it was important that I find the right kind of girl to become a preacher's wife.

When I first saw Virginia, I must admit that I took more than one look. She was in her late teens and was she ever pretty! However, I did realize that selecting the right girl to be a preacher's wife included much more than her facial features.

The first major thing I discovered about Virginia was that she had spent the first 15 years of her life in India where her parents had been missionar­ies. This interested me very much for I had done considerable dreaming about being a missionary. When I realized that she already knew a lot about a missionary's life, my interest in her increased.

At the time I net her, Virginia was employed as the housekeeper for a wealthy lady. She was an expert at that job. This was definitely a point in her favor since I liked a neatly kept home. When I found out that she was also an excellent cook, I was even more attracted to Virginia. When I learned that she made most of her clothes, I realized that this skill would make it much easier to live on a preacher's salary.

It didn't take long before we were frequently dating. We soon developed the plan of a regular weekly date on Wednesday evenings. Do you wonder how we spent those evenings? You are right—we attended prayer meeting together. It soon became obvious to me that Virginia was not only a pretty, young lady, she was also a dedicated Seventh-day Adventist and loved to serve Jesulbeen my joy, my love, and my wife. Our ministry has included pastoring churches and conducting evangelistic meetings. We have worked together in preaching the gospel truth in six different countries.

This hasn't always been easy. In the Orient, we lost all of our possessions, except the contents of four small suitcases. On more than one occasion, we faced rifles and bayonets. At one time, our work included hiking through bandit-infested mountains. One night, thieves broke into our bedroom while we were asleep and stole much of our clothing. Amaz­ingly, Virginia was convinced that we were doing the work God wanted us to do. The result? She fearlessly faced all kinds of dangers and losses.

Virginia has always taken an active part in my. ministry. This has included accompanying me in pastoral visiting, giving Bible studies, conducting veg­etarian cooking classes and entertaining guests in our home. I remember when we bought our first food freezer. Virginia decided to keep enough prepared food in the freezer to entertain up to twenty unexpected guests at any time. The church folks loved her and she spent many an hour chatting on the phone with lonely seniors.

When I think about all the things Virginia has done for the churches we served, I remember it this way—every church we served received two pastors for the price of one.

I never succeeded in getting Virginia to preach a sermon. However, many of the best ideas I had for my sermons came from her as we drove our car from one home visit to the next. And she was always at prayer meeting with me. This was true even when our children were small. Our oldest daughter would sit close to Mother and our youngest would sit on Mother's lap. At the Sabbath worship service, the first thing I did when it was my turn to present the sermon was to scan the congregation to make sure I knew where Virginia was sitting. Why? Because I knew that she would be praying for me.

Virginia took an active part in the 35 evangelistic campaigns we con­ducted. One of the first things we plan to do when we get to Heaven will be, hand-in-hand, to walk the streets of the city looking for the people we worked together to bring to Jesus. And I'm sure that at least half of the stars the conference records indicate are mine will be in Virginia's crown.

Of course, there were many church duties I could take care of by myself. Virginia developed her own plan to bid me fdrewell when I left the house on those occasions. She would leave whatever she was doing and go to the front window. There she watched me back our car out of the driveway. Then, as I turned onto the street, she would wave good-bye to me. This always said that, even if I made some dumb mistake in what I was going to do, she would always welcome me back  home with love. 

And believe me, I needed this assurance more than once.

Virginia's min­istry included do­ing special things for the little folks in our flock. One day she had baked a batch of cookies and asked me to leave them at a home where there were two small children. Usually, we went together to that house, but this time I was by myself. When I rang the doorbell, a seven-year-old lad opened the door. Suddenly, a puzzled look came over his face and with a questioning tone in his voice, he asked, "Where is the other Pastor Cooper?"

Well, that just about says it all, doesn't it?