By Steve Lewis
“Steve, you need to be the new Sabbath School teacher. I just cannot take another Sabbath school like the last one! ” My wife, Karen, in her bold Viking manner expressed strong feelings. Thankfully, two of Karen’s best friends were visiting and supported my point of view which recognized that this would cause World War 3 in that church.
I am a retired CPA and formerly worked for the US Customs Service as a supervisor. We audited companies that imported into the United States. Our purpose was primarily to recover monies due the government but also to look for white collar fraud such as money laundering. We would audit a variety of companies, most were Fortune 500 size (since importations into the United States is so significant, think NAFTA). When we found a company that owed the government millions of dollars, they would not just cut a check but would hire a law or CPA firm to do battle sometimes involving the court system.
Karen, before ministry, was a marketing director at the largest female-owned marketing firm in the country and was the marketing student of the year at her university. We were both not only supervisors but the first born children in each of our families, which makes an interesting dynamic.
I met Karen two weeks before I was baptized by Mark Finley. After three very stressful years of multiple breakups, Karen accepted the Lord as her Savior and three months later we were married. We have been blessed in marriage for over 30 years.
Karen was called by the Lord into ministry after being a stay-at-home mother to our two daughters. Since then, she authored the Lifting up Jesus Bible study series and has been in ministry for a number of years as a teacher training lay students in evangelism. More recently Karen received a call from the Minnesota Conference to train Bible Workers for the Shawn Boonstra series. In addition to the training, Karen was also asked to pastor a small church in Stillwater, the first city of Minnesota and a mecca for weekend tourism, graced with splendid views of the St. Croix River Valley.
I was always active in evangelism. One of my co-workers at my first job working for the IRS later came to work with me at the US Customs and we became the two supervisors in the Chicago office. Car poolingled to a Bible study which led to his baptism. Later, he became an elder at two churches.
I have served as a head elder at several churches, always involved in evangelism and prefer to teach Sabbath School, although on occasion I do preach. I also have a passion for prison ministry.
I particularly resonate with a line I recall from a Broadway play that says that I would rather be center fielder on a baseball team, part of the team but not too close. This describes my way of thinking from the standpoint of my favorite sport.
Like center fielder, being the male spouse of a female pastor can be lonely. I have seen my wife bullied and mistreated by others in ministry. This is particularly difficult since a husband’s natural inclination is to protect his wife. When I’ve encountered some situations where people in authority were trying to get rid of my wife, I’ve stepped down from my office to preserve my wife’s ministry and confronted in a Biblical way.
My wife was commissioned on April 16, 2016 at the Stillwater church by Union and Conference officials.
We have been blessed with many baptisms and a growing church (in the conference that set a record for baptisms in 2015 and is leading our Union in growth). Karen is the only woman in our Union with her own church district which now includes a second church. Hinckley Seventh-day Adventist Church is located beside the busy Interstate 35, this church has the only Christian radio station in the county. Though some of the radio equipment is outdated, I am very excited and am making inquiries for this exciting ministry prospect!
Reflecting back over my journey, one thing that comes into clear focus: I have been blessed to partner with my wife in ministry.
Be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:10-12