It has been my privilege during the last thirty years to work side by side with my husband. We have worked in different parts of the world, in different churches, and in different capacities.
It was not easy in the beginning for me to adjust to the role of pastor's wife. When we started working in Rio de Janeiro in 1964, I had been baptized just three years before. My former religion was still part of me. I was brought up in the Catholic religion and my family was a very strong support to the Catholic priest of my home town. But one day an evangelist came to the area. My family received an invitation to his meetings and that was the beginning of my new life.
God established new directions for my life. Three years later I was in a position I never dreamed of. But the Lord was good.
He taught me many things. He supported me in many situations and He helped me during the long time my husband had to stay out in the field conducting evangelistic crusades. He used me as mother, Bible instructor, and counselor to the ministerial students' wives in Brazil College. I am thankful to my Lord for the opportunities He gave me to serve Him.
Three Bible texts helped me during those early years as a pastor's wife. Matthew 5:12 says, "Rejoice, and be exceeding glad; for great is your reward in heaven." Luke 6:35 states, "But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest." Isaiah 49:4, 5 says, "Then I said, I have laboured in vain, I have spent my strength for nought, and in vain ... yet shall I be glorious in the eyes of the Lord, and my God shall be my strength."
The sense of reward was planted deep in the heart of every human being by the Creator. The Bible is full of promises, because God knows our nature. He made us.
As pastors' wives we are not different.
It is true that many times we ask ourselves—What am I getting out of this situation? Is it worthwhile to continue moving from place to place every three or four years? What kind of compensation will my children have for not having the normal chances of developing steady friendships? Does our constant moving affect their education?
Those are only some of the questions that come to our minds as we follow our husbands when they receive calls to new pastoral districts. Truthfully, from the standpoint of our culture, most women do not want such a life for their families,
Most women want a nice house, not too far from an educational institution that has a good reputation, in a quiet area of an average city neighborhood in the United States. Many want to live in an area where the weather is mild throughout the year. They want to be able to plan and control their families' future lives.
But that is not the normal situation for most of us. We were called to be the wives of men who received a call from God to be pastors in the Adventist ministry.
We have to learn:
*How to adjust to new areas.
*How to make new friends in a short time.
*How to help our children adjust quickly to a new school environment.
*How to smile when we would like to cry.
*How to be happy when there are many reasons to be unhappy.
*How to be thankful to the Lord for small things that, according to the standard of the world today, there is no reason to be thankful for.
*We have to learn with the help of our Savior to look beyond the horizon, like Moses had to look to the Promised Land from the other side of the Jordan river.
* We have to learn to behold, beyond the dark clouds in the skies, the sun shining in all its splendor.
*We have to learn to go forward by faith and not by sight.
*We have to learn that our reward cannot be measured by the standards of today's society. Our reward will be given one day in the future when the work of our Lord will finish and we will go home to heaven.
We can enjoy our role as helpers. Our lives as pastors' wives can be a kind of romance if only we keep our eyes on our precious Savior, remembering that one day we will in the presence of our Master and He will give us the real reward at last. But until then, we have to keep our eyes on Him, seeing the invisible by faith.
I was told that a pastor here in the United States received a call to be a missionary in one of the countries OD the African continent. He and his wife prayed about and decided to accept it.
After several years they had to come back. They could not stay there anymore. The tropical climate was too hard. The land was full of tropical parasites.
As they were flying back, the devil was working in their minds.
"What is the advantage of being a missionary?"
Colleagues who had stayed back home had prospered. Some had good positions in the denomination. Some had bought nice houses. Their kids were in good educational institutions.
The missionaries asked themselves, "Why did we go to Africa? Even the African people did not show much gratitude or recognition for what we did for them. It seems that we lost several years of our lives."
Those were the thoughts the devil was pushing into their minds.
To make things worse, when they arrived in the Kennedy airport in New York, they discovered that an important man from the American government was traveling in the same plane. They saw the red carpet rolled out for him. They heard the music of the martial band as it played its welcome home tune, They saw a lot of important people who came to welcome the government representative.
Again the devil began his work.
"You see? This is the type of work that gives some type of real reward. You see the difference. The red carpet. The people waiting for him. The society knows who he is. Can you hear the music? But how about you? Nobody is waiting for you. There is no music, no recognition, nothing. Only deception and frustration?"
But at this time the angel of the Lord started speaking to the missionary.
The angel of the Lord said: "But He arrived already. He received His reward. Your arriving will not be in New York. Your arriving will he in heaven. Ten thousands of angels will sing. He will give you a golden crown. You will receive a white stone and a new name written on it. You will be with your Savior, forever and ever. Don't focus your eyes on things of this earth. Continue walking by faith until the day your eyes behold the city. Until the day God calls you home."
Maybe some of you know what it is to feel like a stranger. After you speak one word people ask, "Where are you from?"
In spite of the material things you may have, you always speak like a foreigner and feel like a stranger.
Paul says that in some ways all of us are strangers.
But we have to remember that the day is coming when together we will end our journey.
The angels will sing. We will join our voices in praising Jesus for the privilege He gave us to stand by the side of our husbands and help in the great plan of salvation.
Jesus refers to Abraham and other heroes of faith in the epistle of Hebrews when he says, "By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in strange country, dwelling in tabernacles ... These all died in faith, not having received the promises ... But now they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one; wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for he hath prepared for them a city." Hebrews 11:9, 13, 16.
May the Lord bless all of us.