July 21, 2014

Husband Arrested? Pack Him a Lunch.

I have long held, with my tongue only partly in my cheek, that the primary job of a pastor’s wife is to keep the pastor alive.

Most churches have at least some people who will organize events, or lead Bible studies, or play the piano. We’ve got members who greet, members who teach, and members who hold babies in the nursery. But nobody is lining up to iron the pastor’s shirt or make his breakfast smoothie or rub his tense shoulders. That’s my job.

It’s actually vital to the kingdom. Jesus commanded us to pray for laborers to be thrust out into the harvest field (Matt. 9:37-38). And, every day, I pray one out the door and hand him his lunch.

It’s vital, but not so glamorous. And when I begin thinking about the possibility of persecution, I get nervous. I don’t know anything about how to be a pastor’s wife under persecution.

But for many of my sisters, the work of being married to a persecuted pastor was not fundamentally different from the work at any other time. When persecution arrived, they packed lunches and ran errands.

In 1942, Darlene Deibler Rose was a newlywed missionary to New Guinea when her husband was arrested and taken to a prison camp by occupying Japanese soldiers. As he was loaded into a truck with the other men, Rose recalls,

“Running out to the pavilion, I found a pillowcase and put into it Russell’s Bible, a notebook, a pen, shaving gear, clothes, and other things I thought he would need. . .I handed Russell the pillowcase and looked into the face that had become so dear to me. . .The driver started the engine, Russell leaned over the tailgate and very quietly said, ‘Remember one thing, dear: God said that He would never leave us or forsake us.’ The truck started with a jerk and disappeared down the road. I never saw him again.”

Rose's conduct, pillowcase in hand, wasn't newsworthy or heroic. She was simply doing what she could to keep the pastor alive.

Similarly, Margaret, the wife of Richard Baxter (1615-1691), watched her husband suffer imprisonment, unjustly, for “holding conventicles, and refusing to take the Oxford oath.” While he was there, she continued to be a homemaker—in her husband’s prison cell. (Richard Baxter wrote that his wife “brought her best bed thither and did much to remove the removeable [sic] inconveniences of the prison.”)

Other women ran errands for their imprisoned husbands. Elizabeth, the second wife of John Bunyan (1628-1688), saw her husband arrested and sent to prison for refusing to attend the parish church and to stop preaching. She spent the almost twelve years of her husband’s imprisonment going from judge to judge, petitioning them to allow her husband to present his defense.

In Burma, Ann Judson’s husband, Adoniram (1788-1850), was imprisoned on false charges of spying. She, too, made the rounds of the government offices, a nursing infant literally in her arms, asking for Adoniram’s release.

In the Scriptures, too, our conduct under persecution is not fundamentally different from our conduct in times of peace. Those New Testament churches, so frequently suffering, are instructed again and again simply to continue. So, we continue in the faith, continue in prayer, continue in what we have learned, and continue to love the brethren—especially our husband-brothers. (Acts 14:22, Col. 1:23, Col. 4:2, 2 Tim. 3:14, Heb. 13:1) We keep on keepin’ on.

And whether we are brought low or whether we abound, we receive our strength from the One who is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Phil. 4:11-13, Heb. 13:8).

Pray. Pack your husband a lunch. Continue.

Posts in the persecution series:
3 Reasons to Think about Persecution
Seek Peace. Expect Trouble. Make New Friends.
Before We Call Suffering "Persecution"
Knowing Whom We Have Believed

How to Be a Martyr's Wife

Rose, Darlene Deibler. Evidence Not Seen. New York: Harper One, 2003. Print.

Deal, William. John Bunyan The Tinker of Bedford. Christian Liberty Press, 2007. Print.

Anderson, James. Memorable Women of Puritan Times. Vol. 2. London: Blackie and Son, 1867. Accessed via Google Books http://books.google.com/books?id=sNcSAAAAYAAJ&pg=PP7#v=onepage&q&f=false


  1. This is a really good series. Thank you for writing so thoughfully and not just looking "out" for persecution but also examining within in the previous posts. Not that I would ask for my husband to be imprisoned or something like that, but it's encouraging in an odd way to think that such a situation wouldn't necessarily require anything extraordinary of me. Lord willing, I'm already doing what I can to keep my missionary husband alive. God has been helping me do that now, so I can be confident that He will do so in more difficult circumstances.

    1. Thank you, friend. I'm someone who is easily overwhelmed by "new and different" so it's a constant source of comfort that the Christian life to which my Lord calls me is never "new and different"--just a daily practice of living for Him in every situation.


Join the conversation!
All comments become the property of Sunday Women.

COMMENTING HINTS: If you are baffled by the "Comment As_____" choices, you can simply select "Anonymous" and include your name in the comment.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...