I believe the classic song from 1981, "Endless Love" as performed by Diana Ross and Lionel Richie, could easily be the perfect soundtrack to encapsulate today's featured love story.
It's the story of how God brought together a man after His own heart named Paul and a beautiful broadcast journalist named Debra. The introduction happened at church, the courtship began in high school and after being apart for years, a "spontaneous kiss that made time stand still" ignited a romance that led to marriage.
Paul and Debra's story is not one free of tests and trials but because of their consistent faith in God and devotion to Him, theirs is a story of triumph and true, endless love.
Read on to have your faith in true, lasting love renewed...
My Endless Love
Chaplain Paul Anderson’s true love story
We met at church one Summer, Sabbath morning because I was standing at the rear entrance of the Ethnan Temple church with Chris, greeting people and she was late. Her mother sped through the light in her green Ford LTD, then screeched to a stop in front of the door. Out of the car crawled two cute young ladies, twins. Chris introduced me to Denise and Debra.
I was smitten but could not tell them apart, nor remember who was whom. After several months, I could finally distinguish them and felt my heart beat differently when Debra came around. I was 15 she was 14.
Our affinity for each other jelled at a church social. Somehow, we wound up on the same team playing Pit, a game that mimics the stock market. We won! She looked at me with an admiration that I crave to this day. On November 19, 1972, I asked Debra to be my girlfriend. She said yes. I let her wear my Letterman jacket that I earned in Junior High school as a member of the Track team. With prescient arrogance, I told her that if she stuck with me, I would show her the world.
Our early teen romance was a bumpy path through most of high school. After my first semester in college, my father was transferred to San Antonio, TX. The move abruptly ended our courtship. Subsequently, I joined the Navy and spent the better part of four years overseas. I saw Debra occasionally when I came to Pittsburgh to visit my brother David.
In April 1981, I came home from a tour of duty in Japan. I visited Pittsburgh and went to church where I saw Debra. She did not speak to me. I came back to visit several times. Debra did not speak to me on either of those occasions. I was compelled to go back again, specifically to see and speak to her. My mission failed until Sunday afternoon. I had decided that if she did not speak to me, I would never return with an intent to see her. As I was pulling out of David’s driveway on Sunday afternoon, he came running out the door with the phone. Debra was on the phone. We spoke. She said that she was leaving work and asked me to wait for her to come by.
She drove up in a red sports car. She climbed out of the car wearing white painter’s pants and a white tee shirt. We greeted each other with a spontaneous kiss that made time stand still. That kiss reignited all of the repressed passion of our unresolved, teen romance. Our courtship was a long distance whirlwind. We married in September 1981. Our commitment to love and cherish each other in sickness and in health, for richer, for poorer, for better or worse was almost immediately tested.
Our first child, Jared, was born in July 1982. I got out of the Navy and returned to school in September 1982. In March of 1983 I had a near fatal auto accident. Debra worked full time and nurtured me back to health. I was installed as the pastor of my first congregation in January 1985. In February, D’Andria was born. In March, I had a near fatal illness. Debra worked and nurtured me back to health.
In September, we moved to the Seminary in Michigan. Debra left her lucrative job as a news reporter and moved to Michigan. That phase is where the poorer part of our vows was tested. For three years we lived on my student stipend and the GI bill. We survived the pressures of financial and emotional poverty. We have a testimony!
My dream of pastoral ministry budded when I graduated from the seminary. Debra proudly stood beside me as I was installed as a professional pastor and subsequently was ordained in ministry. Our path has had ups and downs, but the trend has always been upward and onward, never backward.
When the Navy called Debra did not hesitate or flinch. She celebrated the fulfillment of my life’s dream. We packed up and moved to Japan. Her enthusiasm calibrated the children’s response. Once again, she left a lucrative broadcasting career.
The adventures that I promised her began to unfold. Okinawa, Tokyo, Seoul, Guam, Hawaii. She became a fearless traveler and a world class shopper.
Through the years we have supported each other’s dreams. God has rewarded our faithfulness with favor. My career as a Navy Chaplain has been a dream come true. God has fulfilled her career dreams in media, broadcasting and working on Capitol Hill.
Thirty-tree years, two kids and three grandchildren later, we are still very much in love. God has been good to us and time has taught us many things, among them, the five pillars of marital success: God, Commitment, Respect, Intimacy and Forgiveness.
We have also learned that covenanting as partners in a holy purpose to enhance the world is the catalyst for miraculous impact.
The purpose of marriage is to prepare for heaven by working together to make a positive difference in the here and now.When we work together to facilitate each other’s dreams, a synergy is created that makes the sum of our efforts greater than the parts thereof. That is the magic of triune oneness.When God is invited into and included in the marriage, He makes of the two, one force for good that can make the world a better place. He has done it with us. He can do it for others.
Author bio: Chaplain Paul Anderson was born in Washington, D.C. He is an alumni of Pine Forge Academy, Columbia Union College (B.S.), Andrews University (M.Div), University of Maryland (M.Ed.), Boston University (STM) and Wesley Theological Seminary (D.Min.). He is a pastor, professor, chaplain, naval officer and a gentleman.
Paul's early career in ministry was in the Allegheny East Conference. He served in Pottstown, planted the church in Reading and completed renovation of the Southwest Philadelphia church. He also served in the Potomac Conference at the Sligo and Seabrook Seventh-day Adventist churches. His life dream was to be a Navy Chaplain. He is and has served a total of 25 years on active duty in the U.S. Navy. That career will end on February 21, 2015 when he retires.
His fourth career will be as the Director of Adventist Chaplaincy Ministries for the North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists.
He has been married for 33 years to his childhood sweetheart Debra. They have two children Jared and D’Andria. Jared is married to Anika. They have two daughters Noa and Quinn. D’Andria is married to Jermaine. They have a son Brayden and another under construction.
Chaplain Anderson’s favorite Bible verses are Psalm 37:4, Proverbs 3:5-6, 1 John 1:9 and Romans 8:28.