2013-12-19 Sixty Years Ago
ACH Study Groups
Ben & Fran Gilmore – Cofounders
7659 Gingerblossom Drive
Citrus Heights, CA 95621
December 19, 2013
This is a mail-merge letter to our friends –
Sixty Years Ago
It was a clear crisp day in Dallas, sixty years ago today – Fran Hudgens knelt beside me at the altar of Lakeside Baptist Church, during our wedding ceremony. That event created a “threesome” with Fran and me at two corners of a triangle and Jesus Christ at the third. Over these six decades as each of us grew closer to Christ, we have grown closer to one another.
With this post, I wish to honor my beloved life-partner. In so doing, I trust our Lord will also be honored.
In the beginning – Fran was a student nurse at Dallas Methodist Hospital. I was fresh back from Korea – reassigned to the Air Training Command in Waco, Texas (an hour’s drive from Fran).
The next year, she graduated and we set up our first home in Waco. She presented “Ginger” (Virginia Faye) as our first child. My tour of duty ended the following year and we moved to Dallas. I was an engineering student on the “G.I. Bill” and she was the SMU campus nurse.
18 months later, Fran was a gifted pediatric surgery nurse, involved with the very first pediatric open-heart surgeries. One afternoon, “Ginger” began convulsing. With our horn blaring, we raced to her pedi hospital. She kept her head, racing down the hall to the ER and shouting orders to activate the system. Some hours later, “Ginger” met Jesus.
Fran then presented us with Guy William.
I was accepted in post graduate school in Boston. Fran became the supervisor of an estate that was administered by a Red Feather agency for emotionally wounded young boys. The three of us, (Fran, Guy, and I) lived on the third floor of the estate. With her salary, the GI Bill and $20K bank loans, I (WE!) earned an MBA.
My first job was in Houston. Fran was pregnant during the move and soon presented Anita Fawn to our family. After a year in Houston, learning the business, I was given the company sales territory from Georgia to Maine. We moved to Enfield, Connecticut. I was on the road except weekends. Fran spent lots of time alone.
I thought I was a “Christian”. After all – I went to church every Sunday and was an American! The local pastor did not believe the virgin birth and had several doctrines strange to Fran’s Baptist heritage. That drove her to Bible study and serious analysis of her beliefs.
We became involved in the Goldwater presidential campaign. Fran organized a powerful team of “Goldwater Girls.” They played a major role in the 1964 GOP State Convention. We drove to the National Convention in San Francisco. Upon our return, we packed up and moved to Fremont, California.
“God’s gift to the business world” nearly starved while looking for work. Fran re-entered nursing as a surgery supervisor. The kids started school. Events led to my salvation and both of us began devouring the Bible! My business career began taking traction.
We moved to southern California. The “Jesus Movement” was beginning to blossom. Fran and I were on the front row to observe it. The Lord had us in a training mode and we were growing exponentially. Lots of Christ-centered adventures as the kids approached their teens.
My folks’ health failed and we lived on both ends of California. Eventually dad died. We moved our family to Morgan Hill. Fran presented Susan to our family. We weren’t wealthy, but we were living like we were! Our home became a missionary way station.
Along the way, we met Miss Hall & Miss Slater, founders of FACE (Foundation for American Christian Education). They introduced is to the rich American heritage and Biblical principles of government. Fran did volunteer work for FACE. Some years later, daughter, Fawn, was on their staff.
After two years we removed Susan from Christian school and began home-schooling. That was way before it was common. Others saw what we were doing and asked to be involved, with their kids. Fran became headmaster of a co-op home school.
God called us to a long term commitment to service in YWAM. Guy took over the family business (at 17!). His proposed book title, “When I Was 17, My Family Ran Away From Home!”
Over half the nights of our first year in YWAM, we slept in tents. Our first night in the side of a volcano in Kona, HI, we could see the stars through the holes in the tent! Fran never complained and her gift of hospitality became YWAM legend.
While Guy shouldered the business, Fran, Fawn, Susan and I completed a “School of Evangelism” and then set out on a “field trip,” to discover if what we had learned of God’s provision really worked. Again, she seemed to thrive.
The four of us were out of America for the whole of 1977. We entered 37 nations and had all sorts of ministry. The Lord was faithful and we grew from many blessings and hardships on that adventure.
I will end the account here. Guy, Fawn and “baby” Susan all made wise life-partner choices and are growing their own Christ-centered families.
Like America’s founding fathers, our friends and family are all aware of this “self-evident truth.” – These sixty years have been much easier for me than they have been for Fran!
I love you, “Pug”