Bio – Phyllis
I was born in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. At the time of my birth, only my mother was a Christian. She was committed to taking us children to church and teaching us about the Lord, fortunately my father was not opposed to her idea. So, I began attending church at a very young age.
Our family relocated to Fairborn, Ohio when I was four years old. In the process of our move, my parents came in contact with a Christian man who witnessed to my father and invited our family to church. Soon after, my father became a Christian. As a result, our entire family attended church together. My father had an insatiable desire to learn more and more of the teachings of the scriptures. He spent enormous amounts of time studying God’s Word and developing a new life in Christ.
My father soon became a leader in the church and was also a gifted Bible teacher. As God taught him more and more from the scriptures, we became more and more involved in the ministry of the local church. We had the privilege of housing many missionaries and preachers during my childhood. I had many opportunities for personal growth and development through Sunday School, worship services, church camp, and youth group activities.
The single activity that had the greatest impact on my young life was attending church camp every summer. The camp was located about two hours from our home, and was in a very rural setting. Since I lived in a very suburban neighborhood, this change of pace each summer was a welcomed sight! The camp was rustic; complete with outdoor plumbing, sulphur water showers that were often cold, and metal dishpans for washing the dishes after each meal. It was great! Youth ministers, teachers, and parents comprised the staff each week. As I think back over my life, there is no other place that has been as special to me as that camp. The Bible teaching, preaching, praying, and fellowship were second to none.
At the age of ten, I decided that it was time for me to make a public profession of my faith in Jesus Christ. On a very hot August, Sunday morning, I went forward at the invitation and was baptized that very same day into Christ. My decision to follow Christ that day has been the most important decision that I have ever made in my life.
From the time that I was very young, I realized that I also had a strong desire to learn more about the scriptures. The church was compelled to teach the Word to all ages through Sunday School and youth programs. There were, however, other opportunities available to receive additional training. A large part of my knowledge of the scriptures was gained from my participation in Bible Bowl. Churches would have “teams” for Bible Bowl and the teams would compete against one another by answering Bible questions and facts. The teams would then advance to national finals at the national church convention each year.
Following my high school graduation, I attended Cincinnati Bible College. I chose Christian Education as my major. I felt that teaching was an important profession, which impacted peoples’ lives in a tangible way. I really enjoyed my freshman year of college. I enjoyed both my studies in Bible courses as well as my general education classes. I was also traveling every weekend with a quartet. We visited various churches; preached, taught Sunday School classes, sang, worked with youth groups, and did anything that the church might have us do that weekend. Traveling every weekend gave me the opportunity to develop leadership skills, interpersonal relationships, and growth in my personal walk with the Lord.
While I was away at college, my “high school sweetheart” was still in Fairborn working to support himself and going to college fulltime. He wrote me letters nearly every day, and would periodically drive to Cincinnati to visit me. Following my freshman year, I went back home to work for the summer. Jim and I began to seriously consider our relationship and our future together. I decided to stay in Fairborn the next year and work. In the fall of 1975, we decided that we would marry. That was the second most important decision of my life.
After we married, we lived in Fairborn for about one year. Jim received his first promotion, of many with the Christian retail industry, and we relocated to Lexington, Kentucky. Our first daughter, Elizabeth, was born in Lexington. Then when Elizabeth was about two we moved to Louisville. There our second daughter, Emily, and our son, Justin was born. When Justin was one, we relocated to Memphis, Tennessee. This was the most difficult of all our moves. Not only were we the furthest away from home than we had ever been, but the cultural adjustment was difficult also. It was here that our third daughter, Erika, was born. We were in Memphis about three years, and had finally adjusted, when the Lord moved us back to Louisville, Kentucky. After being back in Louisville two years, the door opened for us to move to Cincinnati, Ohio. We have been in Cincinnati for 14 years.
One might say that we moved too much; we should have settled down somewhere and stayed. But, I learned many lessons from all the moving that we did. I learned that there are churches with believers everywhere. These churches were willing and ready to engage us in the work of the local church. God used our talents and abilities through teaching, leadership, singing, and serving. I learned a greater dependence on God. I learned what it meant to “leave and cleave” in our marriage. I learned what it feels like to be the “outsider” in situations, and also how new people in a church and community feel when they don’t know anyone. All this has given me a greater sensitivity to other peoples’ needs and more aware of God’s help and provision for us in every circumstance of our lives.
Over the past fourteen years in Cincinnati, we have been passionately involved in raising our children and growing in our walk with the Lord. Before Jim and I were married, we talked about how we felt that God would redirect our path for His express purposes once our children were raised. About a year and a half ago, with two of our children out of the house and married, our son graduating from high school, and our youngest daughter nearly finished with high school, we began to see God’s hand gently redirecting our lives and sensing His leading in a new direction. Jim has a strong desire to leave the “corporate world” and focus on a ministry that has meaning and purpose. We both feel like we are “on the edge” of something big in God’s plan for our lives. We just want, more than anything, to be in the center of God’s will and allow Him to use us in ministry this last half of our lives on the earth. With all that said, we step out in faith to begin a new work wherever He leadsâ€¦the third most important decision of our lives.
Written: July, 2003