It was 2000, or perhaps 1999—I’m not certain. My wife and I had been married for three years, with Katelynn at two years old and Kylee on the way. We lived in a small one-bedroom apartment, about ten minutes from the campus. I was living my dream as I started the four-year ThM program at Dallas Seminary (DTS). Kristie, ready to get in and out, merely tolerated our time away from our home in Oklahoma.
Epiphany in Class
Early in Dr. Mark Young’s missions class, I had an epiphany. Mark discussed the importance of missions—a natural focus for a missions class. Contextualization, culture, redemptive analogies, and the like were all being discussed every day. Our passions were on the rise as Mark told his stories about his time in Poland, barely able to hold back the tears, and neither could we.
The Map of Missions
A high concentration of pins around the Dallas area indicated many DTS grads stayed nearby. Similarly, pins scattered across all fifty states showed their widespread presence. Looking beyond the United States, there was a glaring scarcity of pins, highlighting the vast need for missions work. Mark explained that while 95% of graduates stayed in the United States, only 5% served abroad, despite the fact that 95% of the global need for the Gospel, theological training, and churches was elsewhere. This discrepancy was alarming, and Mark’s passion for missions amplified the urgency.
Called to Missions
Well, I heard the call that day, loud and clear. I knew what I was meant to do. Before, I was uncertain, but now, the Lord’s voice came through like a megaphone: I was supposed to go overseas and be a missionary!
Breaking the News at Home
When I got home, Kristie attempted to probe for the passion and the source of my excitement. Holding back some details naively, thinking it would be a surprise, I walked her through what I had learned, doing my best to convey the urgency without the pins. I explained the global famine for the Gospel. Then, at the right moment, I revealed the “good” news: “We are going to be missionaries!!!”
Let’s just say that the rehearsal in my mind did not mirror the actual events. I had thought Kristie would be excited, that her heart would break for those less fortunate, that she would hear the Lord’s voice as clearly as I did. But that was not the case. She began to cry… and these were not the type of tears I had hoped for.
A Difficult Spiritual Battle
This struggle weighed heavily on me. We discussed, argued, and tried to persuade each other for some time. It became a very difficult spiritual battle. Kristie made it clear she was not going to another country. Her concerns were our children and our family’s well-being, her known and loved community. She would either stay in Dallas or return to Oklahoma City. Those were her only options, in stark contrast to our lessons on missions. To me, she seemed to be quenching the Great Commission itself.
Questioning My Path
Thus began quite a struggle. Was I a follower of the Lord or a follower of my wife? That became the question. I even considered, if Kristie would not accompany me, might I go alone? Which was the greater good: maintaining my marriage or saving souls? Conversely, which was the greater evil: divorce or ignoring God’s call?
Intervention and Revelation
Then, one day, Mark invited his wife, Priscilla, to share her testimony about life on the mission field with our class. I admired her deeply, perceiving her as the epitome of a supportive spouse. It pained me that my wife did not share this vision. That night, determined to change things, I initiated what I thought of as a spiritual intervention. However, the anticipated discussion with Mark turned unexpectedly into a stern admonition from Priscilla, who made me realize the importance of unity in marital decisions regarding ministry.
A Change of Heart and Mind
This conversation was transformative, reshaping my understanding of marriage and ministry. Priscilla’s forthrightness helped me re-evaluate my priorities, placing my family and wife above my zeal for ministry. It was a turning point, saving my marriage from being undermined by my passion for ministry.
Paul tells Timothy, “But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith, and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Tim. 5:8). In my immaturity, I lost sight of this, believing the greatest good was spreading the Gospel, to the exclusion of all else. I was nearly willing to sacrifice my family on the altar of my calling.
Observations and Warnings
Since that pivotal moment, I’ve witnessed similar scenarios unfold multiple times, often with heartbreaking outcomes. Zealous spouses, particularly husbands, become embittered when their partners do not share their missionary zeal, sometimes leading to the dissolution of their marriages. These stories serve as a somber reminder of the importance of mutual calling in marriage, especially in ministry.
Friends, and especially young, zealous husbands or those soon to be, take heed not to let your passion for ministry overshadow your first ministry—your marriage. Understand that if God does not call your spouse, He is not calling you in that direction. Period. Thanks to Priscilla, for her bold intervention, I learned this lesson well.
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