Editor's note: In this issue, we feature many grace-filled testimonies of God calling His servants to full-time ministry. Such stories are familiar to us, but often, little focus is given to the spouses who support and walk alongside these workers. A preacher's wife holds a special role and is, like her husband, called to walk a path of sacrifice and service. She dedicates her partner-in-life to the Lord's work and accepts more responsibility at home—juggling work, bringing up children, caring for elderly and ill family members, and her own church duties—so that her husband can be fully committed to the ministry. This may sound like a heavy burden, but as the testimonies below attest, such a life is not to be feared. They experience the abundant blessings and mercy of God, who not only prepared these sisters for this path but also supply their every need to establish their families and their lives in His grace. And even in times of danger and distress, they are enfolded by God’s protection and a peace that passes understanding, guarding the heart and mind.
Why I Became a Preacher's Wife
Eunice Chiang—Dalin, Taiwan
[F]or it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. (Phil 2:13)
On May 28, 1973, my classmate brought me to the True Jesus Church for the first time to attend the Sabbath service. I stayed until evening to attend the Intermediate Youth religious education (RE) class and received the precious Holy Spirit during the prayer session. I was baptized on September 25 the same year. All of this happened when I was seventeen years old.
PLANTED IN MY HEART
Normally, students in vocational school would have to wait until their fourth year, when they turn eighteen, to attend the spiritual convocation for university students. However, the church helped me sign up early, while I was in my third year, so I could participate three times in total. Each time, I was in a different church in another region. It was during a service at one of these spiritual convocations that a speaker said, "I hope that all sisters can resolve to become a preacher's wife." In hindsight, it is clear that God had already determined that this would be my path. After the service ended, I felt the Holy Spirit continuing to move me, which made me a little scared as I had never considered such things before. Once I returned to my local church, the thought of becoming a preacher's wife lingered in my mind. I said to God in my heart, "Let Your will be done. If this is Your will, please help me to become a competent preacher's wife." After that, the idea of being a preacher's wife faded into the background.
After graduating from vocational school, I started to work. I also became an RE teacher to teach the younger children in church. The days passed, and time flew by. At one point, the church ministers began to show concern and asked if they could introduce a potential partner to me. My workplace colleagues also asked similar questions. At that time, I did not seriously put the matter of marriage into my heart. I was the eldest daughter and my siblings were still young. My father had already retired, but his friend cheated him of his meager pension. So, I needed to contribute to the family finances. Marriage had not crossed my mind. I told the church ministers that I had no plans at present, and I declined the help of my colleagues, explaining that I was only interested in marrying a True Jesus Church member. The truth was that I had long forgotten about becoming a preacher's wife.
FOLLOWING GOD'S WILL
Because my field of study had been computer-related, I would go to church straight after work to help the church secretaries. My involvement in this ministry meant I began interacting more with church coworkers and resident preachers. While socializing during a break, I learned that one of my coworkers, Brother Ko Chang Chiang, wanted to become a preacher. This was because his mother had made a vow when he was a child, hoping that he would grow up to become a preacher. At that moment, I suddenly remembered being moved by the Holy Spirit during the student spiritual convocation and how the desire to become a preacher's wife had entered my heart. Coincidentally, Brother Chiang was searching for a suitable wife at that time. One day, he asked me whether I was willing to become his wife, which is how it happened! The fact that God had moved my heart and intersected our paths at exactly the time my husband was looking for a wife shows that this was God’s arrangement. Later, my husband mentioned why he asked me—the key reason was my independent personality. I do not know how God had shaped me for this role, but, all in all, the will of God came to pass.
TRUSTING IN GOD
When faced with the reality of being a preacher's wife, I told myself that my husband belongs to God—he is a worker of God. Nothing at home should trouble him. The Lord would always take care of us.
There were complications during the births of our two sons. However, in both cases, I experienced God's grace and care. When I was in labor with my firstborn, I was admitted to the hospital on the evening of March 5, 1981. The delivery was difficult because my son's head was large in proportion to his tiny body. I prayed for God's mercy, and finally, my son was born at 9:08 a.m. the following day, without the need for surgery.
The birth of my second son was even more precarious, and this time, my husband was not with me. Towards the end of my pregnancy, the baby was in a breech position, so the doctor suggested some exercises to encourage the baby to turn himself into the head-first position before birth. However, I found these exercises very uncomfortable, so I did not follow the doctor's advice.
My waters broke on the evening of November 10, 1982, and my parents-in-law drove me to the hospital. When I arrived at the emergency department, the doctor asked if I had discussed the possibility of a cesarean delivery with my physician. I told him I had not. But as we spoke, I felt the baby was about to be born. My son emerged feet first, and his shoulders and head were stuck. Because this was a critical situation, my in-laws were alerted in the waiting room. There was silence when my son was finally delivered. I asked the nurse why there was no baby's cry, but she did not respond as they worked to save him. Finally, the silence was broken by my son's cry. He was placed in an incubator for a few days before being discharged. Thank God, my two sons have grown up and are both married in the Lord.
After giving birth to my first son, I left my job and moved in with my husband's family. There were four generations living under the same roof. Living with the older generations allowed me to enjoy the peace and joy of the whole family believing in the Lord, and we could take care of my children together. It was a great blessing for my sons to be loved so dearly by their elders. On the inevitable occasions when my children fell ill, there was never any need to panic as the seniors were on hand to help. If the children cried at night, we would just pray.
Recollecting from when I first believed in the Lord until today, the only steadfast conviction in my heart has been to look to God.
"But as for me, I would seek God,
And to God I would commit my cause." (Job 5:8)
God's Love and Providence in My Role as a Preacher's Wife
Lisa Liew—Portsmouth, UK
In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, I testify how God has shown His grace, mercy, and guidance in my life as a preacher's wife.
My husband, Daniel, and I grew up together in our local church. After our studies, we reconnected as friends. We were working youths and would talk and get to know each other, as many youths do. I remember when he brought up the topic of serving God as a full-time minister. It was before we started our relationship, and he shared with me the possibility of him dedicating his life as a preacher if it was God's will. After we revealed our mutual feelings for each other, he shared that if I were to be part of his life, I needed to prepare for the challenges of becoming a preacher's wife. I was a little taken aback, though not in total shock. Firstly, we had not yet started courting, and secondly, I wondered, Is this some kind of pre-proposal? I thought long and hard about the possibility of being a preacher's spouse.
In the UK, the preacher's family stays at home, and the preacher is required to travel to his assigned churches or places of worship within the UK, Europe, and Africa. This means, most of the time, the wife looks after the family by herself. Would I be willing to commit to Daniel, knowing he would rarely be at home, and would travel to various churches pastoring the brethren, preaching to save souls, and putting God above his own family? Am I willing? We both agreed to put this matter into prayer and discuss it after Daniel returned from the Youth Theological Training Course (YTTC). I had a lot to consider: Would I be able to be independent? Can I sustain my spirituality without a spouse at home? What are the expectations of a preacher's wife? Although these questions seemed quite far-fetched at the time, they were relevant to what I would face. After much consideration and time spent in prayer, we decided to move forward with our relationship.
Thank God, through His arrangement, Daniel and I married in 2009. Before we were married, we discussed his hope to be a preacher and how it would affect our future. I learned that I had to see the bigger picture from God's perspective: "The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few" (Mt 9:37). My priority is to put God first in my life, even if it means letting my husband serve Him for the rest of his life. My role as a preacher's wife was not only to support my husband but to know how I could support God's ministry in my local church, care for the brethren, and labor for God to prosper His church.
IN GOD'S TIME
In the early years of marriage, we talked about how starting a family would fit around my husband joining the theological training program (TTP). Would we have children first and wait for them to grow older before he applied for TTP? Or would we think about starting a family after he joined TTP? Would I be able to cope as a solo parent?
In 2012, two life-altering events happened. The first was the passing of my late mother-in-law, and the second, a couple of months later, was our daughter's birth. My husband was a church board member and the church was facing challenges at the time. There was a need for church workers. My husband raised the possibility of applying to TTP earlier than we had planned. After losing his mother and witnessing God's blessing with our daughter, we perceived the fragility of life. As the Bible reminds us:
[W]hereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. (Jas 4:14)
There were many questions to be answered. Still, we could only put this matter into the hands of God. As Proverbs 16:9 says, "A man's heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps." I knew whatever our plans may be, God would reveal His path for us. We need not worry if we seek God's will first (Mt 6:33). To understand what my life would be like, I asked a couple of preachers' wives to share their experiences. I truly thank God for their sharing and encouragement. Their reassurances made me realize how important it is to trust in God's arrangement for my family and for His church.
Daniel applied for TTP towards the end of 2012. Since there were no other applicants in 2013, he could spend that year at home. We enjoyed our time together as a young family. In 2014, by God's grace, Daniel was accepted into the TTP. By 2015, we were blessed with another child. Our children were young—our daughter was at nursery, and our son was a newborn. Daniel was meant to be trained in the US for his first semester but could not attend TTP in person because of visa complications and circumstances beyond our control. Instead, he attended classes online. Around six months later, he obtained a visa for his second year of TTP in Taiwan. This was when the reality of raising two young children single-handedly really sunk in.
On one occasion, my daughter caught chicken pox and hand, foot, and mouth disease in quick succession. These spread to my son, one illness after the other. As they were recovering, I caught stomach flu, which swiftly infected my children. I prayed to God to have mercy upon our family, and I wondered why He would allow us to become very sick when my mother was abroad visiting family. It was the time when I needed my husband the most. Most days, I found myself slumped on the table without the strength to feed my children. How can I possibly look after my children when I can't even look after myself? I thought. I felt weak, helpless, and hopeless. It seemed God had immediately put me in at the deep end to test my faith. My husband, who was in Taiwan, was naturally very concerned and asked his TTP classmates to pray for his family. There was little else he could do apart from praying for us. He was only allowed to come home a couple of times a year, which was a difficult adjustment for us. But by relying on God and His mercy, I could get through this trial without my husband or mother by my side.
In times of physical and spiritual weakness, I knew I had to muster the strength to pray for God's mercy. Even when I could not pray for long, I was still comforted by God's presence in our young family. I learned God truly knows what we are capable of and how much we can endure (1 Cor 10:13).
My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. (Jas 1:2–3)
He may not remove our sufferings, but He tests us through the trials we face, hoping we obtain patience. He knows our weakness and will strengthen us (Phil 4:13). I thank God for providing me with the physical strength to recover. He helped my children heal without any complications or chicken pox scars. What seemed like an eternity was only a few weeks. With the help of family members and church brethren, we could return to full health. I look back and realize that God had planned it this way. Had my children and I had one infection at a time, there would have been separate episodes of illness throughout the years. Instead, God allowed my children and me to suffer from multiple illnesses relatively quickly. Those few weeks made me ponder and reflect on the importance of seeking God first in my life, especially when my husband is away. This is the lesson God continues to teach me daily.
RAISING A FAMILY IN THE LORD
As a preacher's wife, we often have to face challenges alone, and we realize that not everyone will be able to empathize with us since our family life is quite different from other sisters in the church. Daily life can be overwhelming, stressful, and exhausting, especially when our children are young. I often found myself out of my comfort zone with jobs around the house that my husband would usually deal with, or juggling childcare, running the household, and fulfilling church responsibilities. It can be quite hard to be independent without my husband's presence. A wife and husband share household responsibilities and discuss everyday issues. Without my husband, I had to make executive decisions and solve problems concerning the children, house matters, and unexpected emergencies. But the most difficult challenge is raising the children in the Lord. I often find myself playing the roles of mother and father in one.
Naturally, children grow up and are influenced by worldly trends. They often ask questions about the world, their faith, and their identity. Every parent in the faith is responsible for instilling the importance of spiritual cultivation from an early age. When my husband is away from home, with the help of technology, we can at least pray and talk together as a family. It is essential that my children know their father can help them in their faith despite not being physically present. I remind my children that, although they are preacher's children, they should not feel the added pressure to be extra well-behaved. Regardless of what role we have in God's church, all parents have been given the same responsibility to bring up godly children so they can grow up to serve God. I see how my children recall teachings we learned from reading a chapter in the Bible, and how they share their testimonies of praying silently at school when they faced difficult situations. God has planted the seed of His word and principles in them, enabling them to grow in their faith. This is such a precious blessing to witness as a parent.
DO NOT WORRY
I have learned that God provides for our physical needs, even if I feel we are lacking. I have learned to put my whole trust in God and not doubt His love and care for His children. It is natural to worry about our children and spouse, but we should not become overly anxious to the point where we doubt God's grace and power.
I was encouraged by separate conversations with a couple of preachers' wives, and the common theme I came away with was do not worry. It sounds so simple, but the worries of life can often bring uncertainty and anxiety. Letting these feelings overpower us can make us doubt God's providence. I often think about the encouragement I received from other preachers' wives, and it gives me great comfort knowing that other sisters are in the same boat. Remember, God is the One who is in control of all things. If God looks after a sparrow, why would He not look after His child, who is even more precious?
"Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows." (Mt 10:31)
"And do not seek what you should eat or what you should drink, nor have an anxious mind. For all these things the nations of the world seek after, and your Father knows that you need these things. But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you." (Lk 12:29–31)
Despite the challenges, I have seen the blessings God has showered upon our family, such as in the small gestures of generosity from neighbors and church brethren. Despite the modest salary of a preacher, we do not lack materially, and I have learned to be content with what God has provided us. Blessings are poured out upon us continuously. Sometimes, we cannot see it because we are too focused on the sufferings in front of us and the negatives around us. We all go through difficulties at some point in life, even preachers' families. God wants to see how we respond to suffering; He wants us to reach out and turn to Him and not rely on ourselves.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding. (Prov 3:5)
I hope through this personal sharing, God will encourage sisters who may eventually become preachers' wives not to worry about their role in their family and the household of God. Give your best to God by letting Him fulfill His purpose for His church through the church workers. He will be watching over you and your family, and He will be your source of strength throughout your life.
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. (Rom 8:28)
Through the Valley of the Shadow of Death
Apphia Yeung—Calgary, Canada
In the name of the Lord Jesus, I testify of God’s protection during a distressing incident early in my husband’s ministry. My husband, Preacher Timothy Yeung, was enrolled in the International Assembly (IA) Overseas Ministry Program, which included serving five years in Africa. Hence, after we married, we relocated there to participate in the pioneering and pastoral work across East and West Africa.
This incident happened in Nigeria on November 8, 2001, when we were staying in a member’s house. This member was wealthy, so the place was spacious, with an inner courtyard and security guards at the entrance. However, this security was not enough to keep us from harm.
At 3 a.m., we woke to a loud banging on the door. The maid hurriedly told us to go upstairs to the master bedroom and locked the door to the stairway behind us. We looked out the window to see a gaping hole in the outer wall and seven or eight men smashing the lights that encircled the courtyard, leaving only darkness and the sound of banging and crashing. We were filled with fear, and we were praying hard. As I was praying, I wondered if the police had been called. But my question was answered when someone commented that the phone line had been disconnected due to unpaid bills. There was no way of contacting the police.
We continued to pray while the banging noises continued intermittently. It was most unnerving when the noises stopped because it signaled that the intruders had managed to break into the house. Once they were in, they used a sledgehammer to break through the doors and searched all the rooms. When they came to a metal security door, they broke through the wall next to it. We were in the master bedroom with many locks on the door, but they smashed through the middle of the door and entered. They started to beat us and demanded to know where our bedroom was. Some men took me and the preacher downstairs while the rest remained in the master bedroom.
When we reached our bedroom, we found it had been ransacked. The robbers beat and threatened us, demanding to know where our money was. The only cash we had belonged to the church—USD $1,500 for building a church in the village. Because the whole room was turned upside down, we had to search for the money bag while they continued their intimidation. When we handed them the cash, they were satisfied and left. But more men entered to beat us and demand money. That was when we realized that they were not a single gang working together but individuals stealing what they could for themselves.
Then, the preacher and I were separated, so we could not protect each other. Two men took me upstairs and dragged me into a bathroom. One was only wearing shorts, so I was scared of what would happen and resisted his demand to turn around. He used a rod to beat me, catching my face and cutting my eye. When the two men went downstairs, I hid. Later, the maid came looking for me and told me they had gone. She was shocked when she saw me. My face was bloody, bruised, and swollen, and my arm was broken and bleeding.
The preacher came up from downstairs and was devastated to see my injuries. He seemed fine, but he told me they had broken off the wooden door and used part of it to beat him across the back. After they beat him to the ground, one asked, “Do you want to kill him?”
At that moment, the preacher felt at peace. He told God in his heart, “Lord, if You are willing to keep my life, I am willing to come back here and keep serving You.”
Then the other man said, “No, we don’t need to kill him.” They beat him some more to ensure he could not retaliate, and then they left. We did not know if they would return, but God gave us calm and peaceful hearts.
The robbers had taken most of our luggage and food, so we packed our remaining belongings into plastic bags. The next day, we moved into a hotel; as we walked into the lobby, visibly wounded and carrying plastic bags, people stared. That night, I prayed, “God, please don’t let me have nightmares.” Thank God I slept well. While we sorted through our possessions, we sang the hymn Count Your Blessings. We could not take photos to capture the aftermath because our camera had been taken. Thank God, the days passed peacefully after this.
Afterward, we flew to Taiwan to recuperate. When my friend picked me up from the airport, she cried. The wounds on my face were still evident. She was surprised that I did not want to seek counseling. She said, “If I were you, I would need to see a psychologist. Weren’t you traumatized by what happened?” After she asked this, I realized that the peace that Jesus gives is so great:
The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. (Ps 23:1–2, 4)
I truly experienced these words. This is the peace that Jesus gives. Even though we are Christians, it does not mean we will always be at peace—healthy and free of troubles. Yes, the Lord can give us peace in the world, but more importantly, He provides us with a peace that surpasses understanding and guards our hearts (Phil 4:7). In times of distress, we can hold on to our Father’s hand. He is the stabilizing force that calms us during a storm. This is the power of peace through Jesus Christ alone. Without this peace, we would not have been able to continue the ministry. By God’s grace, we did not give up and experienced His blessings while working in Africa for the remaining five years. We arrived in Africa as two but left as a family of five.
May all glory be to God! Amen.