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Mary Ray
Leaning forward, we peered through the darkness. The streaks of lightening and the pouring rain made it difficult
to see the road. It was definitely not the kind of night for traveling; nevertheless, we had to keep driving.

A fter attending a conference in
Chattanooga, Tennessee, my
husband, James, and I were making
our way home to Illinois where he was
pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in
Olney. The trip had been pleasant until
we crossed the state line from Tennessee
to Kentucky where we encountered a
storm that was relentless. Even though
our windshield wipers were working as
hard as they could, we could barely see
the road ahead of us.

We were just a few miles past the small
town of Nortonville when, much to our
dismay, we saw lights flashing behind
us and realized that it was a policeman.

James pulled the vehicle to the side
of the road and waited for him to
approach us.

A lthough he was polite, he definitely
was not friendly. After checking
16 James’s driver’s license, he informed us
that he had been following us since we
came through Nortonville and that our
car had drifted across the centerline
a number of times. James tried to
explain that it was impossible to see
the centerline because of the blinding
rain, but no matter what he said, the
policeman was firm in his decision
that we had been driving recklessly. His
answer to our explanation was “Follow
me and tell it to the judge.”
With a grumpy
voice he asked, “Do
you plead innocent
or guilty?”
We made our way back to town and
followed the officer down a side street
to a small frame building that obviously
served as the police station and the
courthouse. Entering the building, the
policeman awakened a man who was
asleep with his head on the desk. The
gentleman was introduced to us as
the judge. Gaining his composure, he
pointed to a spot in front of the desk
and instructed James to stand there.

With a grumpy voice he asked, “Do you
plead innocent or guilty?” James tried
to explain that the line was invisible
because of the darkness and the rain.

The judge’s reply was “If you plead
guilty, you will get a discount because of
the weather.” My wise husband decided
to plead guilty. Unhappily, I watched as
James placed on the judge’s desk most
of the money we had to live on until our
next payday.

Needless to say, after that night, we
did not have pleasant memories of
Nortonville, Kentucky. In fact, for years
when we passed through the town, we
jokingly asked, “Can anything good
come out of Nortonville?”
W hen I first met Virginia, I
immediately liked her. In fact, it
would have been hard not to have liked
her. She had a warm smile, and a kind,
gentle spirit that seemed to draw people
to her. We became friends, and within
a short time, I considered her my “best
friend.” However, I soon discovered
that there were many other ladies who
called her their “best friend.”
Virginia grew up in a small town
in Kentucky. Her parents were
hardworking people. Her mother
was a dedicated homemaker and her
father was a coal miner. When she
was a young child, she was converted
in a local Baptist church and was a
member of the youth group. She and
her husband, Don, were high school
sweethearts and married soon after
graduation. After their wedding, they
moved to Gary, Indiana, where Don’s
parents were living.

Don went to work at Keen’s Foundry,
and Virginia, excited about her new
role as a wife, sought to provide a
happy home for them. Her recipe for
homemaking seemed to have four basic
ingredients: love, cleanliness, order,
and beauty. Although they had a
meager income, Virginia always
found a way to add elements of
beauty to their home.

Right away, they began searching
for a Bible-believing church. From
the first time they entered Black
Oak Baptist Church in Gary, they
knew their search was over. Under
the preaching of Pastor W.E.

Jones, they learned about biblical
separation, tithing, and other great
truths of the Word of God.

A s Don and Virginia continued to
grow in grace, Don began to feel
the gentle tugging of the Holy Spirit that
would lead him to surrender to preach.

This was a decision that neither he nor
Virginia took lightly. Two weeks after
Don went forward to announce his call
to preach, Virginia went forward and
said to the congregation, “Since God has
called Don to be a preacher, I want to be
the very best wife that I can possibly be.” 1
Realizing that they needed training,
they moved back to Kentucky to attend
Bethel Bible College. Within a short
time after returning, Don was asked
to serve as pastor of two small Baptist
churches in the area. Both churches
together could not pay him enough to
provide for his family, so he worked
on a secular job to make ends meet.

Virginia had gone from being a foundry
worker’s wife to a preacher’s wife, and
now she was a pastor’s wife who was
serving in two churches at once. For
most women, serving one church is a
daunting task, but to serve two at the
same time would be inconceivable. Her
gentle, sweet spirit endeared her to the
people in both churches.

L ater, Don became pastor of Second
Baptist Church in Providence,
Kentucky. The church could pay him
enough so that he did not have to work
on a secular job, so Don and Virginia
moved from their country home into
town near the church. After a thriving
ministry in Providence, Don was
invited to become the associate pastor
at Calvary Baptist Church in Harvey,
Illinois, but he knew in his heart that
the next step in their lives would be to
the mission field.

only women who have that title truly
understand what it means. With their
two young children, they went on
deputation to raise their support. After
arriving in Japan, Virginia faced all the
difficulties that every missionary wife
faces. She suffered from homesickness.

She was frustrated with trying to learn
the language. She was concerned about
the education of her children.

It was with great sorrow that Don
and Virginia watched as Renee, their
daughter, boarded the plane to go back
to America for college. For whatever
reason, it is always painful to know that
there is an ocean between you and your
child. However, she did what she always
did, she adjusted.

V irginia was a great blessing and
an encouragement to the young
women in the church and the Bible
college that Don and other missionaries
organized. The Sisks’ home was a refuge
for the Japanese converts who were
disowned by their families for adopting
the Christian faith.

Don and Virginia’s time in Japan was
greatly used of the Lord. Souls were
saved every Sunday in Senri Newtown
Baptist Church. Now, over 50 years
later, the seeds that were planted in
those early years are still springing
up into eternal life for many Japanese
people. Virginia loved the people of Japan
and the ministry God had given to
them. When the Sisks came back
to America for a visit, they were
always anxious to “go home” to
Japan. O
Virginia’s title changed many times
during her married life, but this would
be the biggest challenge of all. The Lord
called them to the field of Japan. She
was now “a missionary wife.” Perhaps,
1. Cary Schmitt, The Life Story of Don Sisk:
Where Only God Could Lead (Lancaster, CA:
Striving Together Publications, 2015), 50.

n several occasions, Don
had been approached by
the General Director of Baptist
International Missions, Inc. (BIMI),
about becoming the Far East
Director. He had always declined,
but the Lord began to show him
how as a director his ministry could be
multiplied. He accepted the position
and the Sisks moved to Chattanooga to
be near the BIMI headquarters. Their
son, Tim, was in junior high school and
their daughter, Renee, was a student at
Tennessee Temple University so she had
the opportunity to live at home during