I consider myself to be a very fortunate man! On this coming Thursday, October 6, 2016, I will be married to the woman of my dreams for forty-three years! My wife Kim, whose godly life (Titus 2:3-5) has been played out in my life, our children’s lives, and in so many ways in the lives of others, I can never give her enough thanks for how she has encouraged my life. I saw her sacrifice to home school our children and through the churches we have pastored find innovative ways to try to make ends meet. It has been my privilege to share with my wife what God has spoken to me about through the Word of God. She as well, has shared some wonderful truths with me that God has shown her. We have prayed together and for each other for more than forty years. We have both learned what it means to have a real, intimate, personal, and passionate relationship with the Saviour. Kim has been the encouragement and example of a godly wife and mother to truly exemplify God’s Word in a practical way of everyday living. She is the love of my life, and it is a joy to spend time with her. God’s Word is a practical book that only works if it is applied to our everyday lives. Kim has done a wonderful job of making me aware of this every day.
Kim and I grew up in a small town in Indiana about twenty miles north of Indianapolis. I met Kim when we were both sophomores in high school. She sat between me and my girlfriend in English class. We were both unsaved and neither of us grew up in a Christian home. We did what typical unsaved teenagers did in a public high school and all that went along with it. I was quite the athlete in high school and played basketball, baseball, football and ran track. When we graduated from high school I had a full ride scholarship to play baseball at any college I desired to go to. I was drafted by the San Francisco Giants in the 1973 free agent draft as the 78th draft pick in the country as a pitcher.
After my first year of playing baseball in the Giants system, I came home in September of 1973 and Kim and I got married on October 6, 1973. The baseball money allowed us at the age of 19 to buy a home on the lake, a sports car, motorcycle, and a boat among other things. I thought I had it all, a beautiful wife, material possessions and the life of a professional athlete. But I was not happy and was searching. Kim and I both went to church some as a child, but most Christians I had run into I thought were weird or worse. I was interested in two things, playing ball and making money. By the time I was 12; I was playing baseball on Sunday during the summer and really had no interest in spiritual things.
In the off season after my first year with the Giants, and after we were married, I did not have anything to do in the winter. So, a friend who owned a local manufacturing plant and who was a local baseball enthusiast thought it would be neat to have a professional baseball player around. So, for the winter I worked in shipping and receiving in his plant.
Not too long after I started working in the plant a United Parcel Service driver came in and starting to talk with me each day. Rick Bratcher was very faithful to witness to me although I told him I was an atheist and did not want to talk about it. I wasn’t sure what an atheist was, but it made religious people stop talking to you when you said it! But, Rick was not to be deterred. He continued to pray for me and gave me a book to read, The Late Great Planet Earth, by Hal Lindsey. The book got my attention and I began to ask Rick questions. For seven months he took his lunch hour each day to talk to me about the Lord. During this time, the Holy Spirit began to convict my heart about my sin and what would happen to me if I died.
One evening I woke up in the middle of the night and asked Kim what would happen to us if we die tonight? She said, “I think if you’re a good person you will go to heaven, and if you are a bad person you will go to hell.” Well I knew where I fit in in that scenario. I told her I did not know where I was going, but I was going to find out.
Rick Bratcher invited me to his home on November 4, 1974. That evening his pastor came over and of course starting talking to me about baseball. My thought was, “doesn’t everybody talk to me about baseball?” After a few minutes of baseball talk, Pastor Burbrink asked me an important question, “Terry, if you died tonight where would you go?” I replied I did not know but I am here to find out. I think I would probably go to hell. He said, “You do not have to go to hell and let me show you how you can know.” He went through the Romans Road and showed me I was a sinner, Romans 3:10, 3:23. He also showed me that because I was a sinner, I was condemned to die. Also, that God’s gift to me was eternal life and all I had to do was receive the gift that Jesus gave by dying on the cross for my salvation, Romans 6:23, 10:9-10, 10:13. I bowed my head right there and said, “Lord I am a sinner, I ask you to forgive me of my sins; I repent of my sins and turn my life to you. Come into my heart and be my Savior I receive you now.” Well, I knew immediately that something had changed. I was different. I was happy about what happened and I could not wait to get home to tell Kim. I was sure she would be happy about it, after all she had been asking me to go to church (her church).
When I arrived home to our house on the lake, I shared with Kim what happened. To my disbelief, she started to cry. She was really upset. She said, “There is no such word in the Bible as saved, and you get down there with those religious fanatics and they will tear you up!” Oh boy, I was devastated. I tried to find where they had showed me in the Bible, but I could not remember where the verses were, but I knew they were there and it really frustrated me. Later Kim came in with something for me and said, “This is what you need.” It was the United Methodist Church manual! I looked through it and knew it was not what I needed, but what was I going to do? I prayed and asked the Lord to help me. I told Kim we were going to church the next Sunday. She said, “Fine but we are going to my church.” I said okay. We went to the big liberal United Methodist Church. I took along my Bible because I figured that was what anyone should do. When we got to church, I was the only person there with a Bible! An older couple that sat beside us called Kim’s grandmother after church and said, “I sat beside your granddaughter and her husband this morning in church, is he going to be a Preacher?” Little did she know that was what God had planned. The preacher preached on “Being a Good Boy Scout” because it was national Boy Scout week. No Bible whatsoever and I was looking for something from the Bible. When we got home I told Kim this was not for me. She was not happy when I told her I was going to talk to Rick Bratcher and find out where I should go to church. Rick said, “Look in the paper and phone book for an Independent Baptist Church.” I did and only found one church in our community that was an Independent Baptist Church. I called the pastor and asked when his next service was. He said, “Wednesday night at 7 P.M.” and gave me directions. The pastor was starting the church and it was meeting in a store front building. Kim and I drove up and she said, “This is not a church it is the old Wayne Street Grocery! I used to go in there and buy cokes and candy as a child.” I said, “The man says he is having church in there and I am going in.” She went in but was not happy about it. He was teaching through the Bible verse by verse. That night it was he and his wife, Kim and I and one other man. I loved it, Kim hated it!
I could not wait for Sunday morning. I was up early and ready to go. Kim was in bed and said she was not going! The discussion went on for a while. Finally after much persuasion from me she decided she would get up but she said, “I will go, but I won’t like it!” We went to both services and talk about a wonderful day for me and a miserable day for Kim. Through the next few days we talked more about what happened to me. After the Wednesday evening service, Kim went forward and asked Pastor Stone to help her. She knew I was a totally different person, and she had been under great conviction about her sin and she bowed her head there in that store front building and asked Jesus to come into her heart and be her Saviour. Her salvation started a wonderful life for us. The Lord has been so precious to our life, marriage, and children now over these past 42 years. We were both baptized together on December 1, 1974.
We were faithful in our local church and started running a bus route and had more than 50 children come on the bus each Sunday. We saw many people come to know the Lord and I was teaching a Sunday school class and Kim worked in several ministries of the church. After a year God began to speak to my heart about preaching. We soon moved to Tennessee Temple University in Chattanooga, TN. That was where the seeds of For the Love of the Family were started. When we left to go to Bible College Kim was pregnant with our first child. Kim had severe complications with the birth of the baby. In fact, the doctor came out after more than 24 hours of labor and said, “We have severe problems, son.” Dr. Clements was a Christian and our daughter was his last baby to deliver after a long practice of many years. He put his arms around my shoulders and said, “I do not give the baby a chance in the world and your wife less than 50 percent!” The night before we went to the hospital I had been laid off my job. After no sleep for more than 48 hours and my whole world crumbling, I got on my knees at 4:00 a.m. in the morning in the Baroness Erlanger Hospital in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and cried out to God to spare my wife and child’s life. I promised God if he would spare Kim and our daughter’s lives I would do all I could to raise the child for Him. God was gracious and spared their lives.
I told Kim of my promise to God. She agreed that we would commit our lives to rearing our children for Him. Folks, we were a young Christian couple who did not grow up in a Christian home. We knew very little about the matter. We have had the glorious opportunity of leading both of our parents and grandparents to the Lord. They are all in heaven now for which we are grateful. Any immediate family member who is saved is saved because we are saved. Kim and I decided that we would study together every passage in the Bible that dealt with the home, children, and marriage. We would not be deterred from the task of rearing our children for Him. The next Sunday after Kim came home with the baby we both went forward in the Highland Park Baptist Church to dedicate the baby to God. Dr. Lee Roberson was the Pastor. Dr. Roberson was aware of our situation and came down from the platform to talk with us. I will never forget what he said when I explained what we were there for. He said, “It will be the dedication of your life that will make the difference in the child’s life, I am going to pray for you today that you will be the husband and father God wants you to be.” He then put his hands on both of my shoulders and in front of several thousand people prayed for our lives. I am forever thankful for the man of God’s prayer! Thus,For the Love of the Family Ministries was born that day although Kim and I did not know it at the time. Kim took the task seriously and worked with our girls to help them grow up to be spiritual young ladies with a desire to serve the Saviour. We both together taught them to have an intimate, personal, and passionate relationship with the Saviour. Our youngest daughter, was born September 12, 1980. Kim home schooled both girls and taught them both how to be spiritual women and both girls have graduated from Bible College, have a heart for God and serve the Saviour today. The Lord has also given us three beautiful granddaughters! She did this all the time being a good Pastor’s wife in the churches we have pastored and been a great help mate to her husband. We thank God for the wonderful life He has given us together. Forty-three years of marriage is a long time! Where has the time gone?! Each Sunday night for the past 42 years we have taken a drive together after church to talk about what the Lord did in our lives that day. I ask my wife what the Lord taught her that day. She also has asked me questions as well. God has been so good to us! Obviously, we are now moving into an area of life where we are slowing down, but our love for each other is greater than ever. In January of this year Kim’s mother went to be with the Lord. Because she lived 12 hours away, we had to be away from each other some. It was 6 months of a downhill slide with cancer and other painful ailments. Kim sat by the bed of her mother and read God’s Word to her and prayed with her for many hours. I flew back and forth. I saw the love of my life rise to the occasion and deal with many difficult things. I was very impressed by how she handled it as a Spirit controlled person. When I was away we talked daily and the first thing out of her mouth was, “I love you and miss you! Can I tell you what God spoke to me about today from His Word?” Absolutely!
I read a story one time about an elderly Christian man talking about his marriage and he said, “That he still looked for her when they were in a crowd and his heart still jumped when he saw her. He was excited to get home to meet her every day. He longed for the touch of her hand and the smile on her face. He loved her more today that when they first got married. He could see them as the years rolled by walking hand and hand into the sunset of life together.” I know how he feels, because that is how I feel! If you do not know Jesus Christ as Saviour today, I encourage you to make the most important decision of your life and receive Him today. He will change your life as you submit to Him!