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Mates Not in the Church: Three True Stories

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Mates Not in the Church

Three True Stories

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A Gift From God: My Nonmember Husband

by Gwendoline Sheehan

"The best thing that ever happened to us was the WCG minister visiting our home," said my husband to me. "You, dear, have always been a loving wife, but I now see changes that are beautiful and special. You make me feel like the happiest man in the world."

Two weeks after these words were spoken, I became a widow. My dear Wally died suddenly on Dec. 9, 1978, at 58 years old.

Let me relate now what it was like to live with a spouse who was not a member.

From first hearing God's truth in 1970, to contacting a minister in 1974, my attitudes and actions were changing. It was a time of learning from the Bible, becoming a donor and a coworker. All these new decisions were discussed with my husband, and he thoroughly approved.

At that time there was no mention of a local church in any communications I received. I simply studied and tried to put into practice the contents of the literature I received.

I loved the Bible lessons, and I soon learned the need to change, as each lesson revealed new truths about what the Bible said.

Especially thought-provoking was the Ten Commandments booklet. Through its contents, I realized it was necessary for me to keep the Sabbath. The articles written in the magazines and booklets stated that the Sabbath was a special time for God—a day to enjoy and make special for your family.

I learned to make sure all housework was finished by Friday and I planned special meals for Saturday, especially breakfast. It was the only day my husband could sleep in. As a police officer, he was up daily at 6:30 a.m.

It was not long before Wally said he liked Saturday the best, since I made it so special for him. However I do remember many foolish and unkind acts on my part towards him. Like thinking on Sabbath that "he" shouldn't be with me to take walks. Or when he gave me, out of love, beautiful cards on Valentine's Day or flowers at Christmas time, I rudely said, "Put them down in the basement!"

I certainly hurt him by acting so self-righteous. In spite of these times, his kindness and love never ceased.

The years soon passed, and we came to September 1974. A serious, painful matter arose—our son and wife separated, with three young boys affected. I fell apart, as grandmas can do, but I found a phone number for the Church.

I made the call and a very gentle, kind man said he was Gary Antion, minister of WCG. He listened to my story, broken by many tears. He agreed that it was a sad case, and gave me comfort and calmed me down.

I told him about my being a coworker for four years but mentioned I had never heard that there was a local church. "What are you going to do now that you know of this?" he said. "Do you not think it is time for a visit from a minister?" I agreed and an appointment was made for that week. The visit was a blessing, and it was arranged for me to start attending services on Sabbath. A young family picked me up, and we all became good friends, including Wally.

The following March 16, 1975, Wally took me to a minister, and I was baptized. Our whole lives changed, and Wally was pleased for me to take part in all Church activities, and he participated in them, too, including the Feast. He took his holidays so he could attend the first and last services. The brethren made him welcome, and he enjoyed their company.

He told me that he thought it was good that there is a group of people in the world who are trying to learn and live God's way of life. After I became a member, he himself drove me to services, and he often attended as well.

Our lives were now full of new dear friends. We both felt blessed by God.

You may be wondering why my title is " A Gift From God." When the doctor phoned me to give the results of the autopsy regarding Wally's sudden death, the doctor said, "Your husband, Mrs. Sheehan, was a gift from God to you! He should have died at birth. The aneurysm of his brain was a severe birth defect."

It has comforted me since to remember Wally's words, for though I could not see God's Holy Spirit in me working the changes, Wally did!

Yes, Wally was right. The best thing that ever happened to me was that minister's visit. And Wally was a gift from God!

A Battleground

by JoAnne Read


In Luke 11:17 the Bible clearly tells us that a house divided cannot stand. These words echoed through our home each and every time my husband tried to tell me that Christmas, Easter and all the other man-made holidays were wrong and that Sunday was not the day that we should be keeping holy. These were not God's holidays!

Let me explain. One day at my husband's place of employment he came across a magazine called The Plain Truth. From then on our marriage became a battleground. What was this so-called new truth and this magazine that was starting to arrive in our mail box once a month, unsolicited! We were both already active in a church, and we did have the truth, didn't we?

This all darkened and clouded my perception of church. My husband said that I should study and read! I had studied the Bible and sincerely believed what I had been taught years ago. Was he for real? I began to try and distract my husband from reading the Bible by making unnecessary noise whenever possible. It didn't work; instead it worsened the problem.

I was in the depths of despair and wondered how we were going to continue worshiping and teaching classes, when the particular church we had been attending was supposedly not teaching what was right. Our marriage was in trouble! Did we have to give up all these holidays, including Christmas?

One day after my husband left for work I decided I was going to prove him wrong. As I studied and read from the Bible and from secular history books, I came to the startling realization that what he was telling me and what I studied was true. God had a glorious plan of salvation, not just for me, but for all of mankind. The Bible revealed days that were truly God's Holy Days!

Needless to say we left the church we attended and, to my chagrin, ended up calling a local pastor. We were invited and welcomed to attend Sabbath services.

Pat and I have been attending the Church of God since 1988. I resisted conversion for a year, but was baptized together with my husband in 1989.

I never looked back, and our marriage was once again in unity. Slowly but surely everything started to fall back into place. While we still have trials from time to time, our marriage has been strengthened by God's abiding love. Having the privilege and honor of knowing the truth and with God at the helm guiding and directing us, our marriage flourished and was strengthened. We have been married for 31 years this July.

My Wife Must Be a Saint for Putting Up With Me All These Years

by Joe Dumond


I was working away from home in construction and came home once or twice a month. While away one time, I heard Mr. Armstrong on the radio late one night, and he tweaked my interest. Twice that same week I heard him again right after work, and he angered me, somehow insulting my intelligence. I ordered the booklets and was going to prove him wrong.

Shortly after this I was laid off for the winter as was normal, and I started to read day and night, locking myself in the spare room and not coming out for days. Once in a while I would rush out and tell my wife to look at what I had just learned. I got the look, like, "Who cares?" She was busy with our second child, who had just arrived one year after the first. She was busy taking care of them while I hunkered down to read. This did not go over well.

At the end of winter I had finally admitted I was wrong concerning all that Mr. Armstrong had said. I started to keep the Sabbath by locking the door and not going out of the room until sunset. This, too, was not good, as my wife needed help with the babies, but I wasn't going to "work" on the Sabbath.

I soon started to attend services in Toronto in the spring of 1982. Six weeks later I landed a job in Quebec and was gone. My wife was pleased, as my religion, too, was gone. But while I was away I was attending Sabbath services and learning and getting excited. This was great stuff! I would come home once a month for the weekend. Arriving home around supper Friday night, I rested for the Sabbath and went to services on Saturday away from the family for more than half the day. Saturday night I spent with the family as well as Sunday, but I would have to leave to go back to Quebec late Sunday afternoon. And so it was all summer and fall up until Dec. 24—for three years.

That first year in the Church I had learned about Christmas and couldn't believe how duped I was. I told my wife we no longer were going to keep Christmas, and she protested. I arrived home Christmas eve late, and we argued on Christmas day and I threw out the tree with all the decorations still on it. I was, after all, the head of the family and the man of our house. I was in charge!

So for the next month I slept on the couch and fed myself and was ignored totally. But I was not yet done being stupid. I figured all I had to do was convince my wife and all would be normal again. So for the rest of that winter I tried to change her. And then I was baptized just before Passover. Now I was really a Christian and things would soon get easier.

I am telling you all this not for my glory but to my shame. In my calling I was trying to call everyone who was dear to me so we all could be saved together. But the more I tried to convince my wife and extended family members, the more alienated I became. And that also meant that my wife was being alienated, too, because of me. Soon very few friends and relatives would visit.

So I would develop friends in the Church. And as I introduced them to my wife, some of them would try to convince her. I found this funny at first, hoping someone would crack her. But it was years before I learned my lesson.

My wife hates to hear the words pagan beliefs. We have worn her out with this expression.

Surprisingly, my wife and I are still married and will be celebrating our 25th anniversary this Feast. She has conceded to come to the feasts every year I have gone but one. I do not object to her beliefs anymore, and we agree to disagree. I now defend her from zealous Church members. I no longer force her to come to services, and I don't preach to her about things at all. Once in a while she reads The Good News to see what I am up to, and then asks some questions. So, after 20 years, we now have some peace in our relationship. My wife had to learn to be a wife, as all brides do, but mine also had to learn to do this with a husband who was away all the time for half the year and who was a religious "fanatic" as well. And yet she stuck it out.

Paul says that if the spouse is willing to stay with the Christian, then let him or her stay. And if the spouse wishes to depart, let him or her go. He also said you should not be unequally yoked. These things were said to me when my wife and I were considering divorce. But Jesus said God allowed divorce because of our hard hearts. Various things were said to tempt me to leave. God wants to know what kind of character I have, and it is best shown under stress.

But the whole point to all this suffering, I have learned, is that it was brought on by me alone. No one else. Not my wife—just me. Because in all the things I was learning, I was not allowing her time to learn. The more I forced her to do things, the harder her heart was against God. The more brethren gave her that "pagan" dig, the less she wanted to listen. The more religious people were in front of her, the more disgusted she grew. It took me about 10 years to learn that the light that shines on the hill doesn't make a noise. Not a peep. And yet I was called to be that light.

And that's another thing. I was the one called, not my wife at this time. God knew I needed the work done to me the most, so He called me first. I see now that my wife is already a saint—she must be for putting up with me all these years. When God wants her to come, He will call her and she will come.

I wanted so badly to be like other Church families. It saddened me. Then after many years I realized how special my situation was, but I could not figure out why until recently. The answer is, love. Real love is the thing that God is trying to form in all of us. He works with some one way, and with others another way. You have to love your mate even when he or she ridicules and makes fun of you. You have to love her when you feel all alone in your beliefs. And you have to help others so you don't think only of yourself.

Yes, it is hard at times, and it's easy to feel, "Woe is me." But you are learning things that married couples and singles in the Church will never completely understand. It is a strange position. Yet a unique one. Congratulations on the blessing that God is about to give you if you allow Him to. It will be a challenge. But God is going to do a work with you, if you let Him. UN


What About the Kids? and Other Issues


There are many other stories and experiences of those with mates not in the Church. The articles above don't really address the challenges of raising children in this situation. And everyone we heard from would tell unmarried people not to marry outside the faith. Those God calls while already married are in a much different situation from those believers who disobey God's teaching and marry an unbeliever.

One member wrote:

"I am a member of UCG, and I am married to a non-believing mate. We've been married 12 years... I'll be honest in saying it hasn't always been easy. I don't believe any good marriage is...

"At times my husband feels as though he is on the back burner. There are so many issues you should not have to face if married to a member of your faith. For example, just to name the obvious: christenings, Easter, X-mas, Holy Day breaking and, most of all, breaking of the weekly Sabbath. I can't count the number of [events] we have not been able to attend as a family or just as a couple because they clash with God's Sabbath...

"Now, as my children grow up, I am constantly explaining why Mum does something and Dad does something else. Dad goes to church on Sunday, Mum on Saturday. Dad eats certain foods, Mum doesn't. You have to work out what to do about unleavened bread in a loving way towards your mate. The list goes on and on. What happens when your husband/wife tells you you can't take your kids to church or you cannot teach them what you believe God wants you to?"