They met during the Great Depression while they both worked at a candy factory in Saint Joseph, Missouri. George was a hard-working, tall, window washer with a winsome smile, and she was a Midwestern beauty who served faithfully as one of the company’s secretaries. It wasn’t long before they had fallen in love with each other. They began attending the Baptist church together as their love grew. A little later they were married in the church. They had their whole lives in front of them. They were so in love. Everything was looking up.
As they began their life together, they became very involved in their church and their work. She loved helping out at the church and George loved working at the factory. Early on in his career the owner of the company approached him with an important project. The candy makers at the plant were the only ones who knew how to make the candy. From time to time they would try to use this knowledge to their benefit. When-ever the candy makers weren’t happy with their pay or benefits they would threaten to walk out.
Climbing the ladder
Because of this, the owner approached George and asked him to spend time with the candy makers so he could memorise how they were making the product. To do so he couldn’t let on to them what he was doing. He wouldn’t be able to take notes or ask too many questions. It all needed to take place secretly.
Slowly George memorised all the candy-making formulas and it wasn’t long until he started working his way up the promotional ladder. Within a few years he was vice-president of the whole company.
As George climbed the corporate ladder, he did the same on the leadership ladder of their church. In a few years their family began to grow too with the birth of two boys and a girl. George’s wife was a very devoted follower of Christ. She was so proud of the husband God had given her. To her it seemed that whatever George put his hand to he was blessed with great succ-ess.
Leaving the faith behind
And then it happened. One day George came home from a church business meeting. It was clear that he was very upset and frustrated. As he looked into the eyes of his faithful bride he proclaimed: “There are more honest men in the world than in that church. I’m never going back.”
Her heart sank as she heard his words. He had vowed to never to go to their church with her again. He was disgusted with the men of the church and was determined to walk away from his faith.
She knew the Scriptures well. She knew what was in store for the Christian backslider. In the Book of Hebrews are the words: “For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines, and He scourges every son whom He receives.”
In her mind it was just a matter of time before God would start dealing with her wayward husband. She was afraid that George would lose all of his favour from God and that from here on everything would become very difficult for them as he came under the discipline of the Lord.
So she began to pray for her husband. She prayed that God would discipline George gently and that he would soon turn back to Christ.
Instead, George just worked all the harder as he threw himself into the work at the factory. He began taking lots of business trips, sometimes for weeks at a time. There was more and more alcohol in the house. Now she was basically left on her own to raise the children.
Measures of success
However, in George’s world instead of bad things happening he just continued to climb the corporate ladder. He eventually became a nationally recognised candy manufacturing consultant. Major candy makers from across the country called on his expertise.
For 25 years she prayed for her husband and nothing happened. She was all alone in her faith and she was all alone in her marriage to a man who had become a workaholic. He was more married to the company than he was to her.
Labour of love
But over the years she remained faithful to him. She raised their children, she did his laundry and she made his meals with all the love she had. She began to won-der if God would ever intervene and bring George back to Himself.
Then she finally had a realisation. She thought that maybe she was praying for the wrong thing in her husband’s life. She had thought that surely God would deal with her believing husband. God said that He would discipline those who were His. Then it occurred to her, maybe George didn’t belong to God after all. Maybe George wasn’t “a son” whom God had received. Maybe George had never been a Christian at all. She assumed that since he attended church with her in the early days he was a true believer, but maybe he had never put his faith and trust in Jesus Christ at all.
She immediately changed her prayers. She began praying for George’s salvation. She claimed the verse from the Book of Acts where the apostle Paul had told the jailer at Philippi: “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” She specifically held on to the phrase “you and your household”.
The power of prayer
Finally, 25 years after his announcement to never attend church, George came home from a business trip, walked into the house and asked: “What time is church tomorrow? I was saved this week.” She was astonished and she watched with further amazement as he walked over to the drink cabinet and poured it all down the drain. God had truly saved her husband and restored their marriage.
In their remaining years they walked together with Christ as they redeemed the years that had been lost. God had blessed her faithfulness. God also blessed her with children and grandchildren who all followed Christ. Many are in full-time Christian ministry to this day.
Ultimately it was the love of Christ that had made all the difference. Through God’s love, God had preserved their marriage, protected their children and saved George’s soul. The Bible is right: “Love never fails.”
– Reverend Bradley S. Belcher is the senior pastor with the International Baptist Church of Budapest, www.ibcbudapest.org. Should you have a question or comment regarding this column, email firstname.lastname@example.org.