The College Years
About the Guest
Time doesn't stand still, and neither do our lives. Barbara Rainey talks about student life at the University of Arkansas and the events that lead to meeting fellow student Dennis Rainey, who would later become her husband. Though Barbara's major was history, her passion was, she admits, following Christ. Barbara explains her early involvement with Campus Crusade for Christ.
Barbara RaineyAfter graduating from the University of Arkansas with a Bachelor of Arts degree in history, Barbara joined the staff of Cru® in 1971. With her husband Dennis, whom she married in 1972, the Rainey’s cofounded FamilyLife®, a ministry committed to helping marriages and families survive and thrive in our generation. Barbara is a frequent speaker and guest on FamilyLife Today®, FamilyLife’s award-winning nationally-syndicated daily radio broadcast. She is the author or coauthor of...more
Barbara Rainey talks about the events that lead to meeting Dennis Rainey, who would later become her husband. Though Barbara’s major was history, her passion was, she admits, following Christ.
The College Years
Bob: There was a point in Barbara Rainey’s life when, as a college student, she broke up with her boyfriend and had to face the possibility that God’s plan for her might be a lifetime of singleness.
Barbara: That relationship was not a good relationship. I knew that God had more for me. I knew what He had was going to be healthy and right and better than I’d ever dreamed of. I was determined I wasn’t going to get in God’s way. If that was a part of His plan for me, great; and if it wasn’t, then I knew what He had—if I was single for the next ten years—that that was going to be better.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Tuesday, January 27th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. How do you cultivate contentment in life when it seems that God’s plan is different than your plan? We’ll explore that with Barbara Rainey today. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. We’re spending some time this week exploring the seasons / the chapters—the evolution of a woman’s life.
Bob: Yes, well, our lives evolve.
Barbara: They change.
Bob: We’re not talking about a woman turning from a monkey into a human. That’s not what I meant by that. [Laughter] We’re talking about—
Dennis: I wasn’t thinking about that!
Bob: Okay. I just want to make sure Ken Ham understands that we’re on the right page here.
Dennis: Yes; yes.
Bob: We’re exploring the fact that, in different seasons, priorities can shift / purpose can be adjusted and that, over a lifetime, you can experience a lot of what God has for you. It doesn’t all have to be crammed into a couple of years; right?
Dennis: It doesn’t. I think what my wife’s story—who joins us again on FamilyLife Today—welcome back, honey—
Dennis: —what her story illustrates is that you can be brought up in a home that goes to church and, maybe, tries to introduce a child to God but may not get the job done because of timing in the child’s life. We, as parents, need to really pay attention to the spiritual dimension of our children and do our best to raise our children to understand who God is—how we’re accountable to Him and how we can come into a right relationship with Him.
Bob: And I think teenagers and young adults are asking those kinds of big questions, all the time: “Where did I come from?” “Why am I here?” “Where am I going?” “What’s life all about?” They’re chewing on that kind of stuff.
Dennis: They are and, as we heard earlier from Barbara, this decision to receive Christ that she made was life-determinative. I mean, we are where we are today because of the decision she made. I don’t think I would have married her if she hadn’t made this decision, nor would she have married me.
Bob: —if you weren’t on the same page, spiritually.
Dennis: That’s exactly right.
Bob: Barbara, we’ve had a chance, this week, as well to get an update on some of what you’re working on currently.
Bob: You’re involved in developing discipleship resources for parents that can be used in the home that are beautiful but that also have some spiritual significance.
Bob: One of the things we haven’t really talked about is a resource you designed for the Lenten season to help prepare people for the celebration of Easter.
Bob: A lot of Protestants have shied away from Lent.
Barbara: That’s right.
Bob: They think of it as something that Roman Catholics do or Eastern Orthodox people do—something that Protestants don’t do.
But you, in recent years, started kind of getting your mind and heart ready for Easter by doing some Lenten practices; right?
Barbara: Yes. I think it’s been very interesting to see that the Protestant Christian community is opening their eyes and hearts to the benefits of preparing ourselves to celebrate Easter. In much the same way that we do Advent to prepare to celebrate Christmas, I think Lent is a time to prepare to celebrate the crucifixion of Christ and His resurrection.
Honestly, one of my favorite products that we’ve created—one of the best resources, I think, that we’ve done—is this one for Lent. It’s called “Messiah Mystery.” It’s a journal book that has six lessons, for lack of a better word, that you can do with your family—one each week for the six weeks of Lent.
What it does is—it takes you from Genesis, where the promise of Christ was first given, and then, for the next six weeks, you study when Isaac was supposed to be sacrificed and how God intervened. Then you talk about the Passover: “Why did God even start the Passover? Why do the Jews celebrate the Passover every year? What does it mean? What is its connection with Easter?”
Over the course of six weeks, you walk your way through the Old Testament and you discover, as a family, all of these clues that God hid in the Old Testament. As a family, you can discover them together. It’s a way for moms and dads to teach their children some really profound biblical truth from the Old Testament; but it’s also a way for moms and dads to learn, too, because, as moms and dads, we always learn more when we’re teaching our kids.
Dennis: Yes. I have to say—what I think I said the first year when we sold out of all of these when we offered them, here on FamilyLife Today: “I’ll give you your money back if you don’t learn something that you didn’t know about the Savior from this study.”
Dennis: This is really a fun/entertaining, but rich, study of the Bible.
Dennis: As you lead your kids through it, you’re going to turn to each other—I know because I went to seminary and I turned to Barbara, at one point after she had written this thing—and I said, “I didn’t know that!” [Laughter] It was really kind of fun to have those discussions, though. There’s a magnifying glass that goes with this—there are clues. It is entertaining—while, at the same time, enriching.
Bob: Well, I want to encourage listeners: “If you go to FamilyLifeToday.com and click the link that says, “GO DEEPER,” you can see some of what Barbara has been working on. There’s a link there for Ever Thine Home. Click the Ever Thine Home link and all of the resources that Barbara has been developing are available there.” Again, go to FamilyLifeToday.com. Click the “GO DEEPER” link and then the Ever Thine Home link. You can see all that Barbara has been working on and order some of these resources, if you’d like, as you get ready for Lent and for Easter.
But we asked you to come this week, Barbara, so that we could talk about the different seasons of a woman’s life and really start to explore: “What should be a woman’s priorities in the various seasons or chapters of life?” We’ve already talked about your teenage years and about your college years.
Bob: We’ve heard about how you came to faith in Christ during your sophomore year of college. That really was a pivot time for you.
Bob: You started to think about life differently as a result.
Barbara: Very differently! By the time I got to be a junior in college—you know, after those two years of my sophomore and junior year, I was really majoring in Christianity and in Christ. I was not majoring in history anymore. Now, I went to class—I studied / I made decent grades—but what I was living for was not graduation. I was not living for what my history degree was going to get me—I was living for Christ.
So, all my spare time / all of my free time, I was in Bible studies. I was talking to other girls and guys on campus. I was going on retreats. It was my passion / it was my focus.
Bob: Did you tell your mom and dad that you’d had this spiritual transformation?
Barbara: I did. I was so amazed that I had never heard this before! Where did I miss this? So I went home, and I started telling my parents all about this. My brothers—I’m the oldest and have three brothers—they all heard it. I’m telling you—they all heard it because I came home, and I was really zealous. The word, “zealous,” really applies. I wanted my family—because I love them—I wanted them to know this Good News that I had never heard before.
Bob: And your zeal may not have been tempered with grace?
Barbara: It probably wasn’t because I was young. I just didn’t know—I really didn’t know.
Bob: You’ve said, though, that this was a transition point; and you started to major in Jesus.
Bob: You also met Dennis Rainey during this time; didn’t you?
Barbara: Yes, I did meet him. [Laughter]
Bob: Tell us when and how you met Dennis.
Barbara: Well, it’s funny. Both of us have tried to figure out when it happened, and we can’t remember. But I know that it was sometime in the fall of my sophomore year. Within a couple of months of my receiving Christ, I met him at one of the big group meetings that we had every week—wasn’t it?—
Barbara: —every week?
Bob: You were pretty immediately smitten by him; weren’t you?
Barbara: Not long after that I started kind of noticing him, I think he called. We talked on the phone a few times. I thought: “This is kind of a nice guy. I’d like to go out with him.”
Dennis: But I’d never ask her out.
Barbara: But he wouldn’t ever ask me out.
Bob: Why didn’t you ever ask her out?
Barbara: He was ornery. [Laughter] No, that’s not really it, I don’t think; but it is part of it!
Bob: That might be it—
Dennis: You know, I don’t know. The reality is—
Bob: —because you were asking girls out, right and left; weren’t you?
Barbara: Now don’t say that—because you’ve told me that you knew I kind of wanted you to ask me out. So, because you knew that / you sensed that I wanted to go out with you, you weren’t going to ask me. So, he was ornery! [Laughter]
Dennis: The truth is—I dated nearly half of her sorority. [Laughter] I took about—who knows?—20 or 30—
Barbara: I don’t know, but you did!
Dennis: —of those women out.
Bob: And you just left her alone!?
Dennis: I did. I, to this day, really can’t explain that other than it was timing—it just wasn’t the right time. We did go out one night, however, to—as I recall—an Italian restaurant somewhere and really had a delightful conversation. The natural thing for me to have done, after that meal, would have been for me to call her up and say, “Would you like to do that again?” But I didn’t do that. [Laughter] I don’t know if I was playing hard to get or not; but the scales kind of fell off my eyes, I guess, a couple of years later.
Bob: You guys were friends.
Barbara: Yes, we were friends.
Bob: Were you more than acquaintances? I mean, did you—
Dennis: Oh! Let me tell you what we did.
Dennis: I mean, we formed an underground Christian revolutionary group.
We weren’t blowing up anything—nothing like that.
Barbara: But there were students in that generation who were blowing up buildings and who were doing physical damage. We wanted to provide a counter-offensive—
Barbara: —kind of—that was a spiritual push, onto the campus, to be the opposite side of that negativity.
Dennis: So, during student body elections, we ran “Christ for Student Body President and Resident of Your Life.” We created a little—
Barbara: —a little flyer that was printed on both sides.
Dennis: And Barbara designed it—she used her art.
Barbara: We walked all over campus, handing those out to every kid that would take one.
Dennis: Yes. 5,000 of them! We wanted to make Jesus Christ the issue.
Bob: You did an underground newspaper; right?
Dennis: We printed several copies. We called ourselves “The Liberators.”
Bob: Yes; okay.
Barbara: And are you going to tell the listeners how many of us there were in this top-secret group? [Laughter] Oh, they’ll enjoy it!
Dennis: It was a movement—
Dennis: —okay, it was a movement of three. [Laughter]
Bob: You and Barbara, and who was the third one?
Barbara: His roommate.
Dennis: My roommate.
Dennis: And we just felt like: “If Jesus is who He claimed to be,”—and He is!—“then everybody on campus needs to know.” I’ll be honest with you—I don’t think there were many people, out of the 10,000 folks who attended the University of Arkansas, back in the late ‘60s, who didn’t hear—
Dennis: —because we were in the student newspaper, kind of debating popular atheists—and, again, trying to make Christ’s claims about individual people’s lives known to people so they could make a commitment to him.
Bob: Okay, so I’m going to go back—now it’s the junior year in college. I’m having lunch with you on the campus at the University of Arkansas. I’m asking you the same questions about: “What are your dreams for life? What are you hoping to do?” You were starting to formulate some thoughts. You were a year away from graduating, and you started thinking about what the next chapter of life would look like.
Barbara: Yes; yes.
Dennis: Yes, she was thinking about marrying me. [Laughter]
Barbara: Hardly. [Laughter] No, I was starting to think about what I wanted to do with my life. The timeframe in which this happened was, not only the timeframe of a lot of student revolt on other campuses—not ours but on other campuses—it was also the time that Hal Lindsey wrote his book, The Late Great Planet Earth, in which he talked about the second coming of Christ. Of course, that was new information to me too—all of it was—but I was reading everything I could get my hands on.
I was convinced that he was absolutely right, as were all of the rest of us students. We were all convinced. It never occurred to me that it might not be imminent. We thought it was going to be tomorrow, or the next day, or the next day, but not as many years as it’s been.
Bob: Here’s what I remember from those days—I remember that Israel had been formed in 1948.
Bob: The thought was that Jesus would come back within a generation of the reformation of Israel.
Bob: And a generation is 30—
Barbara: —40 years—30 to 40 years.
Bob: That’s what I remember. So, 1978 was kind of the outer marker; and then, it got to be 1988.
Bob: And then we kind of thought, “Well, maybe we didn’t understand that as fully as we thought we did.”
Barbara: “We don’t know what a generation means,”—that’s what I finally decided.
Bob: Right. [Laughter]
Barbara: But because of all of that, my purpose in life became to live my life for Christ. I didn’t know what He wanted me to do—I didn’t know what that meant. I didn’t know where He wanted me to go, but I was fully convinced that the only choice—and the very best choice—was for me to live my life according to His plan.
I had decided, by the time I was a junior, I wanted to go into ministry / I wanted to go onto the mission field. At that time, the most logical choice for me was to go on with Campus Crusade because that was the ministry that I was involved with.
Bob: When you had started college and you were a history major, were you thinking you would teach high school history, at some point?
Barbara: I was just majoring in something because I had to major in something.
Dennis: Yes, but you liked history—you’ve always liked history.
Barbara: I liked history; yes. I mean, I started out doing art and then switched to history. But, no, I didn’t have any visions of what I was going to do with my degree.
Bob: So, when you had this spiritual transformation, now you kind of had a sense that, “Okay, this is what life is supposed to be about—
Barbara: Yes, exactly.
Bob: —“full-time, talking to folks about Jesus / joining the staff of Campus Crusade for Christ.” Again, how did that conversation go over back home, when you told Mom and Dad that you were going to join a ministry, full-time?
Barbara: Well, it wasn’t as difficult or dramatic because I’d been doing it now for three years. I think they’d kind of gotten used to the fact that this was what I really cared about now. They still didn’t understand it because going into the ministry—in their perception and, again, based on their background, which was also mine—was that to be in the ministry you had to work for a church.
Bob: You’ve got to pastor.
Barbara: So you were a pastor or you were employed by the church.
Barbara: So, for me to go into a ministry, where I had to raise my own financial support and then I was going to go work on a college campus was a very new and foreign concept. But, again, they’d heard me talk about it enough over those three years that, I think by then, they were just kind of resigned.
Dennis: I’ll bet her dad did research—
Barbara: Oh, I’m sure he did.
Dennis: —on Campus Crusade for Christ to make sure it wasn’t a cult.
Bob: You think he googled it back then? [Laughter]
Dennis: I don’t think he googled it; but if I was a betting man, I would bet your father—
Dennis: —because he really loved his daughter.
Dennis: I think the natural tendency, back then, was to think: “This kind of seems like a cult. What’s going on here?”
Barbara: Yes, and there were a lot of people that did think it was. But, to my parents’ credit—even though they didn’t understand what I was doing, they were very supportive. When I would go have meetings around town and share with people that I was raising financial support to go into the ministry and I told my story, they came and listened. My mom helped bring refreshments and my dad helped set up tables. They were very supportive.
I think they were scratching their heads and thinking, “Where did this come from?” because they never saw it coming.
Barbara: But they were very supportive.
Bob: This is the late ‘60s and early ‘70s that we’re talking about here.
Barbara: Early ‘70s; yes.
Bob: Where was marriage on your radar screen? I mean, most girls in college are, at least, asking the question, “I wonder when a boy will want to marry me?” Were you asking that question?
Barbara: Yes, I was because I was dating the third member of our group.
Bob: Oh, the roommate!
Barbara: The roommate!
Barbara: Which is a part of the reason I was part of the group, I think. [Laughter] It wasn’t just my artistic skills. So, I was dating Dennis’s roommate. That was part of the reason we were a trio—and we really were a trio. We did almost everything together. That’s part of the way I got to know Dennis because he was just a really, really good friend.
I was wondering, in the back of my mind, my junior and senior year, if marriage to this other guy was God’s will; but I was still committed, no matter what, to figuring out what God’s will was for my life because that was more important to me than marriage was.
If marriage was a part of God’s will, then I was going to go that way; but doing what God wanted me to do was more important than anything. I didn’t know, for sure, if that included marriage; but it could have.
Bob: So you could have been content, as a single person? You were not so caught up in the priority of marriage that—
Barbara: No, I wasn’t.
Bob: —that you would have been unhappy, as a single?
Barbara: Well, I don’t know. I probably would have been unhappy, at points, had I stayed single for a long time; but I remember very clearly, my first year on staff with Campus Crusade, having this thought process go through my head. I had since called off the relationship with this boyfriend because it was very obvious to me that it was not God’s will. So, I had walked away from that.
I remember thinking that year: “You know, relationships are just really complicated. I really don’t want to go through another dating relationship unless I know, for sure, it’s the man God wants me to marry.”
I kind of made this deal with God; and I said: “Lord, I want to do whatever You want me to do. If I’m single until I’m 30, then that is fine with me because I only want to do what you want to do.” I was determined that I wasn’t going to get in God’s way. If that was a part of His plan for me, great; and if it wasn’t, then I knew what He had—if I was single for the next ten years—that that was going to be better.
Dennis: To that—I would like to say what I say to my grandkids when I tell them what is called, “A Continue Story.” You’ll have to wait—
Bob: [Laughter] —“to hear the rest of the story!”
Dennis: —to hear the rest of the story. To which my grandkids say: “Ohhhhhh, Papa! Oh, noooo. You can’t do that! It’s on the edge of the cliff!” [Laughter]
Bob: But I think it’s helpful to reflect back on the fact that this priority of serving Christ was really allowing you to be content in every area of life—
Bob: —because so many people, who are discontented with where they are in life, are discontented because they’ve made the wrong thing the priority.
Barbara: Yes; and Paul said, “In whatever state you’re in, to be content.” There are days when that is not easy to do—but he is saying what I said—which is that: “God’s plan is better than your plan.”
Barbara: And if you can recognize that where He has you is the best place for you to be, then you can be content.
Bob: Alright, we’re going to have to ask our listeners to just put this story on pause for 24 hours. We’ll pick it back up when we get back together tomorrow, but I do want to encourage our listeners to check out what you’ve been working on with the resources you’re developing in the Ever Thine Home collection. Some of these resources are appropriate to this particular season.
You’ve got a Valentine’s resource called “How Do I Love Thee?” where families can explore what real love looks like by looking together at 1 Corinthians, Chapter 13. It’s done in the form of a garland that you can hang in the home—in the kitchen / wherever it fits in your house. Each day, you can read about a different aspect of what godly love looks like—that’s just one of the resources. There are Lenten resources, like the “Messiah Mystery.” You’ve got resources for Easter.
Probably the easiest thing for folks to do is just go directly to EverThineHome.com to see what you’ve been working on. Again, the website for Barbara’s resources is called EverThineHome.com. You can go there and see all that she’s been working on. You can order directly from her website if you’d like. If you have any questions about Barbara’s resources, call us, toll-free, at 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then, the word, “TODAY,”—1-800-FL-TODAY is our toll-free number.
You know—our goal, here at FamilyLife Today, is to provide help for relationships—that’s with your extended family; if you’re married, it’s your relationship with your husband; if you have children, your relationship with your children; extended family members; friends. We want to provide practical biblical help for what Jesus said is the second-most important commandment. After loving the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, the second commandment is to love others as you love yourself.
That’s our focus, here at FamilyLife Today—to help you understand what the Bible has to say about how we are to love one another. It’s always encouraging for us to hear from listeners who let us know that God is using this ministry in your life, in your marriage, and in your family. We want to offer a word of thanks, on your behalf, to the folks who make this daily radio program possible.
We are listener-supported. It is listeners, like you, who pitch in, from time to time, to help cover the cost of producing and syndicating this radio program. They are our partners in the work of FamilyLife Today. We’re grateful for that partnership. If you can make a donation to help support this ministry today, we’d like to say, “Thank you,” by sending you a copy of Dennis and Barbara’s daily devotional guide for couples called Moments with You. It’s 365 devotions designed to give you a Scripture to read each day, a brief devotion you can read each day, some questions for conversation, and then something you can pray together about each day.
It’s our gift to you, here in the new year, as you help support the ministry of FamilyLife Today. Do that by going online at FamilyLifeToday.com. Click the link in the upper right-hand corner that says, “I CARE,” to make an online donation. Or call 1-800-FL-TODAY—you can make a donation over the phone. Be sure to ask for the Moments with You devotional when you do that. Or send your request for the devotional, along with your donation, to FamilyLife Today, PO Box 7111, Little Rock, AR. Our zip code is 72223.
Now, tomorrow, we’re going to pick up Barbara Rainey’s story and hear how she went from being a contented single to a surprised bride-to-be. It was a little bit of a surprise. You’ll hear the story if you can join us tomorrow. I hope you can tune in.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We will see you back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.
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