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Life: God's Renewable resource








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Thanksgiving bride

by John Arlon Hawke

“I’m a Free Will Baptist and I love the Free Will Baptist people,” she said. “Always have, always will.”



Find out more about the Free Will Baptist Board of Retirement at



BARBARA WAS WORKING AS A RECEPTIONIST at a grain mill in Richmond, Virginia, when she took her used car with the bad brakes in for service and met that handsome young man at the Western Auto counter. One look at her and the Western Auto guy decided she was the girl for him. Ron asked her for a date in June 1958; they married five months later on Thanksgiving Day. She was 19, he 21.

“Before we left on our honeymoon,” she said, “he had to fix a flat tire on the car. That was the beginning of surprises in our marriage.”

Barbara says that she has always been different, finishing high school mid-year in February after studying business. “That took some of the glitter off graduation. February in Richmond is not a pretty time.”

Converted at age seven, she was the daughter of an electrician who worked on airplanes in World War II. Serving God became her life, even though her parents did not attend church.

“I’m a Free Will Baptist and I love the Free Will Baptist people,” she said. “Always have, always will.”

Miracle in Tennessee

Ron began preaching, and the family (now with two children) headed to Tennessee to attend Free Will Baptist Bible College. Western Auto had shifted him from store to store up the corporate ladder, so he requested a transfer to Nashville.



We stayed in Nashville four years,” Barbara said. “Ron went to college full-time and worked hard to make the Dean’s List. I took night classes and worked during the day.”

Things were tight financially, so Ron’s sister decided to supply shoes and clothes for the two young children while he was in college. “I’m telling you, it was a miracle,” Barbara said. “Our children did not grow  while Ron was in college. They wore the same size shoes and clothes four years.  We felt like the Israelites in the wilderness when their shoes didn’t wear out. But when Ron took his first pastorate, those kids grew like weeds!”

The Working Mom

Ron and Barbara’s pastoral career took them to seven states—Arkansas, North Carolina, Florida, Texas, Missouri, Tennessee, and Mississippi. Like many young ministry couples, they moved frequently.

“It seemed like we moved every 18 months,” Barbara said. “I loved every minute of it.  I felt so close to God as a pastor’s wife. I usually taught children’s classes, and I enjoyed the fellowship.”

Barbara was definitely not a stay-at-home mom. “After unpacking at a new church, the first thing I did was look for a job.  I never had trouble finding work with my business background. I understood computers and was unafraid of new technology.”

She admits that sandstorms in the Texas panhandle were tough on her. “I felt isolated, a long way from everywhere. And, oh, that wind.”

15-Year Guaranty

When Ron’s pastoral ministry ended in 1993, he and Barbara returned to Richmond. Ron had opened an account with the Board of Retirement in 1976 and contributed to it as funds were available. He started quietly, depositing $500 now, $200 then, and other monies as he could.

“Having that plan in place gave me a ‘Thank you, Lord’ attitude,” Barbara said. “If something had happened to Ron when the children were small, that would have been all we had.”

She settled Ron’s account in 2003, shortly after his death, choosing a 15-year guaranty that provides a monthly check. She named Free Will Baptist Bible College as recipient to receive the balance of her payout in the event she dies before the 15-year period is up.

“This is one way I can benefit my favorite ministry. We never had a great deal of money, but we always had enough,” Barbara said. “Others could do the same thing to assist a favorite ministry if they would.“

Ready to Relocate

Barbara loved the pastorate. “I wish we could have stayed in full-time ministry longer.  It’s a hard thing not being a pastor’s wife. Life just doesn’t seem right without it.” She paused. “Am I too old to be a missionary? I want to find my ministry place whether it’s teaching children, leading VBS, or something else. Why, I’d even marry another preacher and start over again!”

Clear ringing laughter precedes her trademark statement, “I’m good at packing and unpacking.  If God points me to a place of ministry, I’m ready to move again.”


John Arlon Hawke is a freelance writer and journalist with a wide range of publishing experience. He currently makes his home just south of Nashville, TN. Find out more about the Free Will Baptist Board of Retirement and Insurance by calling (877) 767-7738 or by visiting



©2008 ONE Magazine, National Association of Free Will Baptists