I thought I would have some kind of epiphany for this milestone column. It didn’t happen. Then I remembered this isn’t about me. It’s about you. So I can do nothing beyond what I feel in my heart.
I have mentioned the Rev. Monroe Gunter in a couple of columns. He was once my pastor for several years. During his time in the ministry, Monroe has pastored many churches. He has conducted many weddings, probably hundreds of funerals and preached in numerous weeklong revivals.
While many of us feel we deserve a week away every year, Monroe and his wife, Joanne — along with their children, Buffy and Todd — didn’t always take that week away. They spent it in church doing good things.
If you calculated the number of hours Monroe has spent away from home in revival, conducting a wedding, conducting a funeral, visiting the sick and elderly or comforting a family at a funeral home, the number would be staggering. And for this work he has become well known in Baptist circles.
I am pleased when my column is about ordinary people that do extraordinary things. As I’ve said before, the column chooses me. I don’t choose it.
There is no doubt in my mind that Monroe goes where he feels led to go as a minister. It hasn’t been easy, but he has been blessed.
However, while he is away doing the Lord’s work, life at home doesn’t just stop. Clothes have to be washed. Meals have to be cooked. Bills have to be paid. When Buffy and Todd were younger, they had to be driven here and there like all youngsters. In other words, the Gunter household has to be maintained like any other.
This job falls on Joanne’s shoulders. It is she who has been the captain of the Gunter household ship all of these years. People have expectations of Monroe to be there in a time of crisis. I doubt many have realized or even thought much about the pressure and burden that leaves Joanne with. But she has stayed the course through the good times and bad.
Monroe is recognized for his great works in the church. And he should be. But make no mistake, and Monroe will be the first to tell you, Joanne’s contribution to their ministry is just as great as his.
Knowing them both as well as I do, he would be lost without her.
Joanne is lying in the hospital right now with complications associated with cancer. That is as specific as I will get. If they want you to know more they will tell you. However, I will say that she is having a tough time. But she is a fighter.
I talked with her a few months ago and asked her how she was doing. She said her spirits were good because she had been praying. She went on to say that she hadn’t just been praying for God’s will to be done, but she had been praying for healing. I was glad to hear that.
Her daughter Buffy is staying overnight with her at the hospital. She sends Monroe home at night to rest. It appears as if Buffy inherited some of her mother’s traits.
Joanne is fighting this obstacle because she is strong. She has had to be strong fulfilling her duties so Monroe could fulfill his. Her entire family has sacrificed much over the years but none any more than her.
It just seems to me that many times in the lives of pastors, politicians, doctors, or pick your own profession, the spouse becomes a forgotten entity. When in reality, it is that spouse that does extraordinary things every day without an ounce of recognition.
I will be praying for Joanne.
For those of you who pray, I would ask that you do, too.
I have never come close to living my life in the way the Gunters do. They are everything I’m not.
Are they perfect? No. Only one is perfect. But they have dedicated their lives to serving God.
So I pray the Captain of the big ship will heal the captain of the Gunter household. God bless.
Chris Collett is a lifelong resident of Cherokee County.