NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE—Yesterday, Deborah and I celebrated our 34th wedding anniversary.
A lot has happened since we were married on August 21, 1982.
In 1982, Ferdinand Marcos was the longtime leader of the Philippines, Ronald Reagan was the new president of the United States, and Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger” (featured in Rocky III) was the number one song on the radio. In 1982, I lived in Starkville, Mississippi, pastoring a small church near the campus of Mississippi State University, and I had no intention of leaving.
Fast forward thirty-four years, one accidental mission trip, three children, and two grandchildren later—nearly everything about my life has changed.
I am no longer in my 20s; I’m in my 50s. I no longer call Mississippi home; Manila and Nashville are now home. I no longer pastor a small campus church; I work with a global church-planting movement that didn’t exist in 1982.
Two things have not changed in the past thirty-four years: who I serve (God) and who I serve with (Deborah).
Deborah was there in 1984 when God called us on a one-month summer mission trip to the Philippines that never ended. She was there (obviously) when our three sons were born. She was there in 1994 when Every Nation was birthed in our living room in Manila. She was there in the early days when we didn’t have enough money for cab and jeepney fares. (We did a lot of walking in those days.) She was there when we finally bought our first home—in a high-rise apartment building. She was there when my mom and dad died. She was there when our two grandchildren were born.
I thank God every day for my wife. She’s an amazing mother, grandmother, and mother-in-law. She’s been the perfect pastor’s wife, disciple-maker, and spiritual leader. I would not be half the man I am today without her, and I would not have accomplished half as much without her.
Those who know Deborah know she’s deeply spiritual—and normal. Some people are so “spiritual” they’re weird. Not her. She’s naturally spiritual.
Besides asking Jesus to forgive me, my second best ask ever was asking Deborah to marry me. I’m forever grateful to her and to God that she said yes.
PS: If you’re single and want to get married one day, I suggest you find someone smarter and more spiritual than you. That formula has worked out wonderfully for me.