On August 14th, 2014, Anthony and Evelyn Bollback will celebrate their SEVENTY-FIRST anniversary!! That totals, 71 years of marriage and ministry. Today, it is AMAZING to hear that someone is married ten years, let alone seventy-one!! Even more amazing is how vibrant they both are in their zeal and service for the Lord and each other. If you think I am a little excited about this, I am because they are my parents!!
On August 14th, 1943, Anthony Bollback and Evelyn Watson were married in the Alliance Church in Newark, New Jersey. Their’s is a story of commitment; first to the Lord Jesus Christ, who called them to overseas ministry, and then to each other, their four children, and those God would bring across their path.
Anthony and Evelyn’s story is about their exciting journey with God. It began in Nyack, New York at A. B. Simpson’s Missionary Training Institute (now Nyack College) while they majored in Missions.
“We did not know it then, but there would be wonderful surprises, bushels of joy, some disappointments and just enough heartaches for God to weave His beautiful pattern of victory and blessing into our lives.” ~Anthony Bollback in his book, “To China and Back“, The Story of Anthony and Evelyn Bollback.”
As a child, I listen to my parents tell the story of their wedding and trip to their first place of ministry. My dad always made stories sound so exciting, especially this one!
It was one week after getting married, that the happy young couple got off the Greyhound bus at 5pm in Coudersport, Pennsylvania with two suitcases, $200., and an enormous amount of confidence in their God.
Beets, Beets, and More Beets
Anthony was only 21 years old when he started Coudersport Alliance Church in Western Pennsylvania. He had dreams of pastoring a well established church, but God had bigger and better plans for him. When he first started this church there were often only just a few people present. I remember him telling me how sometimes he preached only to my mother.
It was in this church that he first expressed his conviction that, “I will never tell anyone my needs except the Lord.” Anthony was strongly influenced by the life of trust that Hudson Taylor had demonstrated. Hudson Taylor never made his needs known to man and this made a deep impression on the young couple.
Not once in the three years that they lived in Coudersport, did they ever tell anyone of their financial needs.
God doesn’t always answer our prayers in the way we envision. Anthony and Evelyn needed food in these earlier days of ministry and their prayers were answered with a bushel of beets from a farmer!
Beets are good, garnishing a salad, or as a side dish, but trying to cook creatively with beets for every meal gets old fast. God wanted to teach precious lessons that would last a lifetime and be passed on to others.
About the time that the beets were gone and Anthony and Evelyn were in need of food again, the farmer brought another bushel of beets. Anthony had visions of fresh corn, beans and potatoes, but it dissipated as God had plans for another lesson in His faithfulness.
Urgency to Spread the Gospel to China
Anthony and Evelyn boarded a ship for China willing to die for Christ, like the John and Betty Stam, 20 years earlier. Communism was more active and growing and yet, young people gave their hearts and lives for missionary service in those targeted lands.
They said “Good bye” to both sets of parents and relatives and boarded quarters on a ship with their little son, Jimmy and 100 other missionaries all without the privacy of their own rooms.
They packed for 7 years in China but had to evacuate because of The Chinese Revolution in 1949, leaving behind 3 fruitful years of ministry. Christianity didn’t die in China with the missionaries leaving, but exploded, growing to maturity.
Everywhere they went there were opportunities to reach people for Christ. Anthony was traveling with a senior missionary when they found that the bridge was ‘out’ because of flooding. They stopped at a small farm for the night and had quite an experience.
They were given a meal that they thoroughly enjoyed, but the next morning was given the same meal because no one could do shopping with the bridge out. In the semi-dark the night before, they had profusely thanked the young girl who had made it.
In the morning, they looked in their bowl and saw little lifeless minnows staring back at them. It was a challenge to eat the meal set before them with a thankful heart like they did the night before.
Next Stop: Japan
After spending 2 years pastoring Long Hill Chapel in New Jersey, Anthony and Evelyn left for Japan since China had not yet opened for missionaries.
Through their different experiences in Japan, God continued to reveal His great power to do impossible things.
12 Years of Ministry in Hong Kong
A highlight in the ministry of Anthony and Evelyn was when they were able to return to their work with the Chinese people living in the British Crown Colony of Hong Kong (now under China not Britain). These were years of blessing as Evelyn worked with refugee women (refugees are people who had escaped Communist China) and lived in an outlying village of huts made out of whatever could be found. She taught them a skill in making beautiful handcrafted items to sell to tourists in the city. There was also a church and a school to teach the people about Jesus.
Anthony supervised many rooftop churches/schools where whole extended families of refugees lived packed into 12 X12 foot rooms. He also was the pastor for the English service at the North Point Alliance Church for many of those years.
Blessings of Ministry in Hawaii
God called Anthony and Evelyn to Hawaii between 1970-76, where the need for the Lord is as great as in any other place. The 6 years of ministry there were such a blessing to them as Kapaphulu Bible Church thrived and grew under the Lord’s guidance and direction.
Serving the Lord Through the Years
Anthony and Evelyn Bollback continued to serve the Lord through the years in each place they lived. Anthony pastored the Christian and Missionary Alliance Church in Silver Springs, Maryland for 6 years, and he was the Western District Superintendent for the C&MA for 9 years in Omaha, Nebraska.
They retired in their early 70s and yet they continued to serve, doing internships for churches that were between pastors, and writing numerous books and the e-newsletter, Founder of Church in China and its publication China Clippings which circulates to over 4000+ subscribers.
I challenge you to use your life to the glory of God wherever you are, for as long as the Lord gives you breath. The victorious life of my parents has been such a good example to me as I have served God right at home raising my children for so many years.
How has the story of Anthony and Evelyn Bollback’s 71 years of marriage and ministry strengthened and encouraged your walk with the Lord Jesus?
Anthony Bollback wrote some wonderful novels: To China and Back, Red Runs the River, Exiles of Hope, and the Jack and Jenny Mysteries for your children. The settings are in China or Hong Kong. These books are still available so don’t delay in purchasing them. You may buy them through my Amazon Store on the top menu bar and you will find them under ‘Missionary Biographies.’ though they are not really biographies.