Shared Hope: God is at heart of couple's love story
I serve on the Salt and Light Leadership Training Board with Chris Brewster. His voice is always one of a strong leader with a servant’s heart.
Brewster is the superintendent/principal of Santa Fe South Schools. Under his leadership, this charter school has grown from 120 ninth-graders in 2001 to almost 3,600 students in prekindergarten through 12th grade and a lengthy waiting list. The success of the school has won national acclaim.
Brewster is extraordinary. His personal life is as impressive as his professional. He met his wife of 28 years when they were in high school — both the children of missionaries. They have eight children. If you are around Brewster for any time at all, you hear about the influence his parents had on his life. Phil and Retha Brewster live a love story that includes more than 29 years in the Philippines as missionaries.
Chris Brewster writes:
"My parents are my heroes. My Dad is a warrior/scholar/statesman/handyman who has taught me more through word and deed than any other man. I used to think my Mom was equal parts Lottie Moon, Betty Crocker, Jackie-O and Wonder Woman. Now I know she is actually even better than that. Together, they set my feet firmly in the ways of the Lord. For real.
"My Dad was from a little bit of everywhere it seemed, but mostly parts of Oklahoma. My Mom was a country girl from rural southeast Missouri. Dad was in a dozen different schools before he graduated high school. Mom was in one all of the way through. My Dad’s family dealt with dysfunction, substance abuse and divorce. My Mom had a stable, conservative upbringing. Dad grew up on one side of the tracks, mom the other.
"My Dad’s true story began when he was 11 and he genuinely answered the sweet call of Jesus to follow Him. My Mom’s real legacy in this life began when she accepted the offer by Christ to become His girl at the age of six. They had no idea what was in store for them, but their God did. He was just the lamp they needed for their feet, the perfect light to reveal their path. The choice to pursue their Lord started them on an amazing adventure.
"My parents recently took the time to write down a bit of their personal history for me. The story of the years they grew up before knowing one another, and then the years they were together before their kids entered the narrative.
"They’ve been through a lot. Poverty, illness, loss of their preborn babies, wayward children, rejection, hurt, confusion and pain. You wouldn’t know it by the way they carry themselves and approach the world though. Their scars and wrinkles actually make them more beautiful to me. Their sore joints and tired backs are earned through hard work and a relentless desire to follow their God into whatever work He gives them. They have never seemed to flinch at His assignments. Never anything too small, or too challenging either. Always faithful. Always true.
"No other way to make sense of how these two (very) different people became one, than to blame it on God. It was either sheer blind coincidence, or fantastically beautiful divine intervention. Since luck doesn’t make sense to me and doesn’t even mathematically exist, I am unshakably confident that my God put them together. Simple as that.
"They were married about 57 years ago. Their backgrounds were close to polar opposite. My dad summed it up pretty nicely with the following list:
"1. My dad was a drunk, her’s was a deacon.
"2. My family were outlaws, her’s were in-laws.
"3. In relationships, she is the china shop, I am the bull.
"4. In school, I could speak but she could spell.
"5. I am loud, she is quiet.
"6. I have always been ordinary; she has always been extra.
"7. When we left for the foreign mission field, I left hardly anyone. She left almost everyone
"A few years ago, we threw a surprise 50th anniversary party for my parents. We worked hard to spring it on them with friends and family gathered. When we got to the part where they were to renew their vows, my dad said in his typical and beautifully crusty way, they did not need to renew their vows because, 'we have never, and will never break any of them.' We didn’t have much to say to that."
Service, the Secret Sauce
"They have always moved along the path revealed by their God. He is their North Star. He is how they have always navigated their lives. Just because they have determined to be obedient, does not mean they haven’t had their share of rough terrain. No doubt they could have had a life of comfort, even affluence, with their degrees and abilities. They have always chosen to walk in the footsteps of their rabbi, that radically loving carpenter from Nazareth.
"The brilliant thing is that the harder they go after Jesus, the better their lives together seem to be. All of the things that could divide them and weaken their love for each other seem to diminish in the enduring strength of their commitment to follow God first, and love each other next. They have led the way for each of their children and grandchildren to meet the Lord.
"No greater accomplishment can I imagine than this.
"My parents aren’t perfect of course. They are just folks like the rest of us. What makes them remarkable is their true love for Jesus. They know He is their first love and that He has given them their love for each other. They know that they are fearfully and wonderfully made in God’s image. They believe what the prophet Jeremiah said in conveying God's affection for us: 'Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you, and before you were born, I consecrated you.'
"I have no doubt that one day, their God will greet them with those precious words: 'Well done, my good and faithful servants!'
"I am so proud of my parents and want to be like them when I grow up. And I want my kids to be like them as well.