It was a mild December evening in Atlanta when I walked into the fellowship hall at the church our family had attended for 10 years. A friend was about to introduce me to a young man who would dramatically change the course of my life forever. My “match-maker” friend informed me that this guy, David Jones, worked with a Christian organization, Campus Crusade for Christ, and that he and others across the country went into fraternities and sororities on college campuses to share their faith in Jesus Christ. Sounded too religious to me. But…having seen him from afar a few weeks earlier, I was interested.
The first words out of my mouth, after the usual intros, were, “What do you say to these college students about Jesus Christ that would give them any desire to listen?” Dave replied, “Why don’t you pretend that you are not a believer, and I will share with you what I would say. (He told me weeks later that he really thought he was training me on how to share my faith).
As I sat across from him listening to the clearest explanation of the gospel I had ever heard, it was striking to me to hear David, a California boy, ask me two unexpected questions. “Do you believe there is a Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco?”, and second “Have you ever walked across that bridge?” My answer…”Yes” to the first, and “No” the second.
He proceeded to say “I have been across that bridge and it’s amazing. Similarly, many people intellectually believe that Jesus lived but they have never put their faith in him, the only bridge to God.”
Light bulbs came on in my head. I got it. I wanted to walk across that bridge. When I got home that night I sat on my bed and asked Jesus to be my personal Savior, my bridge. I asked him to come into my life, forgive my sins, and show me where to go from there. Although I didn’t realize it at the time, that night I met my Master, my mate and my mission, all on the same night.
David went home that night and announced to his housemates “Today I met the girl I’m going to marry.” Sure enough, in March he asked me to marry him, I said yes in April, and we were married on June 3, 1967.
Because I was a new believer I didn’t realize the tremendous significance of the Scripture verse David had printed on our wedding program. “May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live together in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together with one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 15:5-6) ESV
Throughout all these years this has been the prayer of our heart. Three children and 12 grandchildren later we can truly say God has wonderfully blessed and encouraged us time and time again, in ministry, marriage and life.
Our passion and burden for couples in ministry was born out of our own journey and life experiences. The genesis to that passion for pastoral couples began many years ago at a very low point in our own lives. Like most people in the marathon of ministry, we were weary and discouraged.
David’s sister Joanne, a pastor’s wife herself, gave me a call one day during that low point. She knew of our need. She said, “Peggy, I have a plane ticket for you to come to my home for a week. I’m going to laugh with you, and cry with you, and pray with you, and feed you and even shop with you if you like. It’s all set, just come.”
Through tears of joy I said “OK, I’ll be there”. That was a wonderful week of new perspective, refreshment, and renewal. I told David upon returning home “If could ever do that for another ministry wife I would be so honored. Later we realized that God literally breathed 10 more years of church ministry into our lives, largely as a result of Joanne’s sensitivity, hospitality, and service.
That experience is what we look back on as the seed faith event for TeamMates In Ministry.
On a blind date 47 years ago this 23 year old California boy first laid eyes on a beautiful Georgia Peach named Peggy. Little did I know that within 6 months this instant attraction (for me) would blossom into a mutual life-long commitment to team together to honor God in marriage, ministry and life.
On our wedding day we knew we wanted oneness, and we knew God wanted us to have oneness, in order to glorify Him. (Romans 15:5-6).
But wanting oneness doesn’t guarantee oneness. In our case, in the midst and mist of ministry we lost sight of God’s purpose for marriage. Years later we heard that marriage does not take place on a romantic balcony but on a spiritual battlefield.
We also learned from experience that ministry does not take place in a idealistic bubble, but on a spiritual battlefield. In both arenas there were times when I felt I was “a wounded warrior” desperately needing to be refreshed. I was a reluctant leader, prone to listen to the lies of the enemy, constantly comparing myself to the more “successful”, questioning my call, wondering if I was being faithful or foolish to continue.
Maybe it’s because I grew up as a pastor’s son, or because I was a pastor myself for nearly 30 years, or because we are now parents of a pastor, but Peggy and I are passionate about teaming together and teaming with others to shepherd God’s shepherds.
In 2004 I stepped down from a 20 year pastorate, in order for us to step up to the call of God to form TeamMates in Ministry. Our mission was clear …to lavish the love of God on the servants of God, so they can be refreshed to better fulfill the call of God on their lives.
Hundreds of ministry couples have come through our doors so far, and now, as we head into the second decade of TeamMates, we anticipate more doors opening, and more opportunities to refresh and serve His servants with love and grace.