A Tribute to Barbara
As their 40th anniversary approached, Dennis wrote the following letter to his wife.
As a new freshman at college, she committed her life to Christ after a staff member with Campus Crusade for Christ explained the gospel to her.
As a junior she joined two other student “radicals” and helped publish several issues of an underground Christian newspaper, seeking to make Christ the issue on campus.
By the time she graduated, her heart had been captured by the King of kings, and her mission had become the Great Commission. So she joined the staff of Campus Crusade, and became very good at investing her life in others at the University of South Carolina.
Then God once again interrupted her life and she decided that her part in the Great Commission could best be fulfilled by marrying a young man. They dated for six weeks before their engagement, and were married six weeks later.
Like Mary (Luke 1:26-38), she believed God and embraced His plan for her life. Being a wife, she thought, was not a second-class calling, and she came alongside her husband with a fierce belief, with faithful love, and with enduring respect that has empowered him to become the man he is today.
Soon, babies came. Several. She even led the way to adopt a special one. Her role changed, but her calling didn’t. And she embraced her noble role of discipling and equipping a brood of “generational messengers” with the greatest news ever announced.
She loved her assignment in the kingdom’s work.
And as their family and ministry grew exceedingly fast, she once again responded with faith and vision. Loyal like Ruth, she endured hardship, health issues, and innumerable challenges as she went where her husband went. Her counsel and belief, more than any other, shaped and fueled and energized a vision for the oldest Great Commission training center in the world—the family.
Oh yes, she spoke at events, sat at dinners too numerable to mention, wrote books, and like a good soldier did what was expected of her as a wife of a leader. Mostly without complaining. All while shepherding her teens through challenging years.
And when a struggling child broke her heart, she asked God to glue the pieces back together and use her heart again for His purposes. He did. Watered by her tears, He grew a ministry to orphans from a mother’s heart.
One by one, as her children grew up she reluctantly pulled her “arrows” (Psalm 127:3-5) out of her quiver and launched them one by one into battle. Six took flight. And after 29 years of being an archer, her quiver was empty. To her it felt like being fired from a job.
For a season she paused, pondered, and prayed. How could she express her heart for her King and use her gifts for the Great Commission?
She found fresh enjoyment in getting uninterrupted time with her husband. She discovered a God-sized assignment when she dusted off her art palette and found delight in using her creative gifts to honor Him. She fashioned a fresh vision for imparting the gospel in and through families through connecting resources.
And she is celebrating her fortieth wedding anniversary with me! How can that be?
“Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all” (Proverbs 31:29).
I love you, Barbara Ann.
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