By Shannon Baker
HOUSTON (BP) — Pastor’s wife Donna Gaines challenged ministers’ wives at the 2013 Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in Houston to surrender their lives to God, stand by their men and use their spiritual gifts “for the sake of the Gospel.”
“I pray you will so surrender to Him and be so consumed in love for Him that every waking moment, when your mind is given leisure, you will think of Him,” Gaines said at the June 11 Ministers’ Wives Luncheon. Gaines is wife of Steve Gaines, senior pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church in Cordova, Tenn.
“I know it hurts when you’re wrongly accused; I know it hurts when someone slanders your husband,” Gaines said, reminding wives they must put God first. “Run to Jesus … stand on His Word until it becomes a part of who you are.”
She encouraged wives to stand by their husbands.
“You can do that as the Spirit of God fills you and enables you to respect your husband and to stand by his side faithfully,” she said, urging the wives to see their husbands as the men God created them to be, even before the men have matured in their God-given roles.
“Have you spent enough time praying for your husband,” she asked, “that you know who it is He’s calling him to be?”
Gaines encouraged the women to serve.
“It’s really about service and evangelism. It’s the Great Commission,” she stressed. “God will push you out of your comfort zone, because it is there where you are totally dependent on Him.”
“God is able, if you just believe,” she said.
Luncheon president Kathy Ferguson Litton, whose husband Rick Ferguson died in a 2002 car accident, described the luncheon theme, “For the sake of the Gospel,” based on 1 Corinthians 9:23, as “personal.”
“When death invaded our family, it sent me on a journey of grief and loss,” she said. “My discovery is this: that the line of the Gospel held in the darkest era of my life.”
Now married to Ed Litton, pastor of First Baptist Church North Mobile in Saraland, Ala., Litton serves with the North American Mission Board‘s leadership development team to support and encourage ministers’ wives. Litton said she learned while participating in an SBC denominational study that a staggering number of souls are without Christ.
The reality of the lost was very “sobering” and “transformational,” she said. “Maybe for the first time, I really saw myself so powerfully as part of the personnel… that I had a responsibility in the Gospel advance.”
Litton told the audience of an experience with Shauna Pilgreen, a church planter’s wife in San Francisco, considered one of the hardest cities in America to reach with the Gospel. After 10 people were baptized, the wife fell into her lap and sobbed uncontrollably.
“What did I see in the tears coming out of this woman? I saw sacrifice, courage, faithfulness, prayers, reckless obedience, vision, hard work, hard work and more hard work,” Litton said. “That’s why they came to San Francisco: for the sake of the Gospel.”
Janet Hunt, wife First Baptist Church of Woodstock, Ga., pastor Johnny Hunt, was honored with the 2013 Willie Turner Dawson Award, recognizing a minister’s wife for Christian character, service to others and a distinct denominational contribution beyond the local church.
Luncheon officers, rather than buying lavish decorations for the luncheon, opted to give a donation to Courage Homes, a ministry of Baptist Global Response that provides a safe haven for girls 8-18 who have been rescued from brothel slavery.
Officers for the 2014 luncheon are president Donna Avant, wife of John Avant, senior pastor of First Baptist Concord in Knoxville, Tenn.; vice president Sherry Lee, wife of David Lee, executive director of the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware in Columbia, Md.; recording secretary-treasurer Donna Conrad, wife of John Conrad, associate pastor of music and missions at New Hope Baptist Church in Fayetteville, Ga., and correspondence secretary Jacqueline Anderson, wife of Robert Anderson, pastor of Colonial Baptist Church in Randallstown, Md.
The theme for the luncheon, set for the Tuesday of the annual meeting in Baltimore, will be “No Fear, No Excuses: He is Able,” based on 2 Timothy 1:12.
The annual luncheon is funded by ticket sales, church and organization donations and the Nancy Sullivan Ministers’ Wives Endowment Trust Fund. Designated contributions to the endowment may be sent to the Office of the Executive Director, Florida Baptist Convention, 1230 Hendricks Avenue, Jacksonville, FL 32207.
Shannon Baker is national correspondent of BaptistLIFE, the newsjournal of the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware.