By Gina Wahlen
Denise Vince never imagined that one day she would become the wife of a pastor. The daughter of a Croatian father and a Chilean mother, Denise was born into a Roman Catholic family in Santiago, Chile.
During her childhood years in Chile, Denise and her family were very superstitious and involved with witchcraft. At age 11, she and her family moved to Australia, where they were approached by Jehovah’s Witnesses for home Bible studies. Eventually, the family became Jehovah’s Witnesses, although Denise and her two siblings never became baptized members.
Denise remembers the trauma this change brought to her family. “We had been used to celebrating Christmas and birthdays, and that was taken away from us—overnight. It was shocking for all of us.”
During the next decade, Denise was drawn deeper into the occult yoga, New Age, more witchcraft. She also married and had two daughters, whom she began raising “in a very pagan environment.”
Then one day a surprise was waiting in the family’s letter box— a small card, advertising some Christian children’s stories. “I really wanted my girls to know about God,” recalls Denise. “I remembered hearing about Jesus when I was young, and I wanted them to know about Him.”
Sending in the card, Denise waited for a response. Later she learned that the Seventh-day Adventist literature evangelist (L.E.) who put the card in her box had tried for three months to respond, but he faced many roadblocks—including several accidents as well as being turned away by Denise’s husband—before he finally was able to meet her.
Soon, Denise was studying the Bible with the L.E., and later with an elder and pastor of the local Adventist church.
During that time, Denise faced an intense experience from her past. “I really felt convicted that I had to burn all of my occult memorabilia—a whole room-full of it,” she recalls. Thinking the materials would burn easily in the hot Australian summer, Denise placed all of the satanic items outside where her husband tried three times with fuel to light a fire—but the items simply refused to burn. Going into the house, Denise knelt down in a room facing the pile of memorabilia and pled with God, “If you are real, this has to burn.”
Within five seconds, Denise heard an explosion and watched as the entire pile was incinerated. “It was such a powerful answer to prayer,” she says. “I felt that God was saying have been married nearly 26 years and have one son, Daniel, 19, and one daughter, Heather, 13.
After a year of intense Bible studies, Denise was baptized into the Seventh-day Adventist Church. However, for some time afterward, Denise still faced spiritual attacks. “I was literally in darkness all those years,” she recalls. “When you are playing in the devil’s playground, he’s not about to let you go.”to me, ‘I am real, and I want you to be in my flock.’”
Sadly, Denise’s marriage also fell apart while her unconverted husband continued to abuse her horribly. Finding a place of safety, Denise took her two daughters and began a new life in Jesus.
It was while working at a bookshop in the Sydney Adventist Hospital that Denise met the hospital’s chaplain, Roger Vince. While not looking for a relationship, Denise was attracted to Roger’s “kindness, gentleness, and godliness.”
The 50-year-old chaplain had never married, Denise learned later, because “he just had a feeling that there was someone special he was supposed to wait for—and I was that someone.”
After 18 months of dating, the couple married on October 29, 2000, in the Galston Seventh-day Adventist. “He’s been a great support for my family, for my girls, and for my grandchildren,” says Denise.
Currently, Roger is pastoring the Galston and Toongabbie churches in the Greater Sydney Conference, where Denise supports him in prayer ministry, hospitality, and children’s ministries. She also enjoys reaching out to newcomers and keeping in touch with members through greeting cards.
ENCOURAGEMENT FOR PASTORS’ WIVES
When asked what she would like to say to other pastors’ wives around the globe, Denise shares from her heart:
“The last 10 years have been a very difficult journey [for me], and I have often wondered if I have what it takes to be a pastor’s wife. Spiritually, it’s been difficult at times, with ups and downs. But I hear God’s voice telling me that He has chosen me for this purpose and that He will empower me with gifts I need.
“God has hand-picked you to be in the ministry. And it is such a privilege. When you feel down or attacked, remember that it is only for a season. God will bring us out of that.
“We are living in very serious times. The devil is doing whatever he can to discourage us. When we are discouraged, our husbands are discouraged. We need to ask the Lord to help us to be a blessing to those in need. It’s about being chosen—you’re not a pastor’s wife by accident. There is a purpose for our lives.”