The Couple Who Serves Together Stays Together

by   |   kallweil@bju.edu   |  

Many couples have met at BJU and gone on to serve together, both in the U.S. and abroad. Several couples have even stayed or returned to serve at BJU. Here are their stories.

Fred and Ruth Coleman

Fred and Ruth Coleman met while in graduate school at BJU. They went on to serve in local church ministry together which uniquely equipped them for their ministry at BJU where they now train others to serve their local churches.

Chris and Krystal Godwin

When Krystal first met Chris, she said, “I thought he was married because every time he would come in (the dining common), he was carrying a baby chair.” It wasn’t until almost a year later that she discovered that he was, in fact, single.

The Godwins’ love story could be a Shakespearean comedy. Their relationship has been a mix of sweetness and laughter. “The first time he asked me to eat lunch with him on a Sunday here,” Krystal recalled, “Morgan McCarty had just been born like the day before. So, we ate lunch and went over to Barge to see her. … And then we took little two-year-old Ryan for the afternoon and watched him. So, that was our first date.”

Krystal also remembered a time not so sweet: “(Chris) and his friend went out one night about 11:00 on a Friday night, and I don’t know how they didn’t hit my car, but you could not open a car door on either side.” Chris and his friend called her, telling her she needed to check on her car. Against the advice of her friends, she ran down to discover what Chris and his buddy had done. “I was going to storm back to their apartment. And one of the girls said, ‘No, don’t go that way. Go back up to the apartment.’ A few minutes later, there’s a knock on my door. He and his friend were there on their knees, and they had been hiding in the bushes to scare us. So thankfully, we didn’t go that way.”

Chris wasn’t the only prankster, though. One night, Krystal and a friend had stored some ice cream in Chris’s apartment while their friend group was playing ping-pong. When the girls went to retrieve the dessert, Krystal said, “We got (Chris’s) key. And then he had this little puppet dog. We stole it and then went and put it in his car.”

Chris asked Krystal to marry him on her birthday, April 15 (according to Chris, “a taxing day”). Their night began with dinner at a fancy restaurant. Krystal remembered wondering if he would propose that night. When they left the restaurant and he still hadn’t asked her, she assumed that night wasn’t the night. The couple then drove up to Half Mile Lake and took a seat on a bench. As the sun set, Chris asked Krystal to be his wife. “It was getting dark, and he gave me the ring, and I was so scared I was going to drop it. (That) it was going to roll right in the lake,” Krystal said.

The proposal “went off with a bang,” said Chris. Literally. As Chris and Krystal were sitting by the lake, “to make it extra romantic, some teenage guys came by in a pickup truck … and they were shooting those potato guns at signs. So right near us, there’s these potatoes splattin’ on the side of the road,” said Krystal.

The rehearsal and wedding were full of the pranks and fun for which Chris and Krystal’s relationship had become known. From Chris’s Steve Urkel impersonation at the rehearsal—which sent Krystal back down the aisle—to Krystal’s blue tongue during the wedding, there was much to laugh about. As Krystal looked back, she reflected, “Honestly, thankfully, it was all legal, and we were married. That was the important thing.”

Today, Krystal works with the ministry teams who travel for BJU. Chris is still in the stage department. As stage supervisor for FMA, Chris has had the opportunity to work with dozens of students. Every year, the Godwins have Chris’s crews over for pizza and fellowship, and the love—and teasing—they show the crews is reciprocated. One crew bought the Godwins a crib for their daughter. Another had a custom bobblehead of Chris made which still sits in a place of honor on his desk at home.

Krystal said that originally “I had just planned to stay for a year, maybe two years and go back to North Carolina. But (Chris) totally ruined that. We stayed here. … (But) If we hadn’t been here, he probably would never have developed those kind of relationships.”

Alan and Lesa Carper

Alan and Lesa Carper knew each other for years and married after Alan’s first wife passed away from cancer.

Warren and Jean Cook

For Warren and Jean Cook, it was love at first sight. It was for Warren, anyway. From the moment he first interrupted her piano lesson, he was hooked on Jean. She took a little convincing.

After their “meet cute,” Warren and Jean were assigned to the same dinner table. “I was the hostess, and my host was often absent. So, I had to conscript some guy at the table to come sit across from me and be host,” said Jean. “So, I asked him to come down and be host, and that’s kind of how we got to know each other.”

Back in those days, BJU would have “Reverse Courtesy Day” on Valentine’s Day weekend. On this day, the girl could ask the guy out on a date, normally a social taboo at the time. “I had gone through a kind of crisis where I was convinced, coming from a bad family background, that there was nobody that could tolerate me, and that there was nobody I could trust. … So, I was sort of interested in him, but not enough to where I invited (him) out for reverse courtesy weekend,” recalled Jean.

That weekend, Jean left her girlfriends after Sunday school and said she was going to find Warren for the morning church service on campus. Though seemingly impossible with the thousands of students swarming FMA, Warren was waiting for Jean at the corner. He had also left his buddies to find Jean. Jean said, “So, I kind of straightened my little hat, and made sure I made a beeline right in front of him. I didn’t say anything, but I just kind of sashayed on by.” Jean and Warren dated the rest of the school year.

But it wasn’t all smooth sailing from then on. That summer, Jean went away to work in a summer music camp. Another young man began showing her attention, and Jean found her attention being swayed. “I didn’t realize that you can choose to respond to anybody. You can be attracted to a lot of different people, but you choose where to set your affection. And that just wasn’t clear to me how that all worked,” she said. “And so, I wrote (Warren) one of those terrible ‘Dear John’ letters.”

When Warren and Jean came back the next school year, they didn’t date all that first semester. On the last day of the semester, Jean was in the wedding of some mutual friends. Jean remembered, “I’m walking down the aisle … and there’s Warren sitting there in this service. … And he was looking at me, and I was just going like, ‘Go away.’ ”

Jean was supposed to give some other students a ride home and had given them her car keys so they could load their luggage while she was at the wedding. As Warren reached her in the receiving line, those students waved at Jean through the War Memorial Chapel foyer window then took off running. When Jean asked Warren what was happening, he told her they were going to his house and taking her car. He would be giving her a ride. By the end of that five-hour car ride, Jean and Warren had worked out their differences. Said Jean, “He gave me a strategy for how to find peace and how to have faith. … He said we should date with marriage in mind and ask God to stop us if it’s not right. And suddenly it’s just like a glimmer of light. That’s what I should do.”

That was the piece of advice Jean needed in order to commit. Warren and Jean were engaged at the end of the following May. The couple had just dropped Jean’s parents off at the airport after her senior recital and planned to go for a walk but changed their plans to sit on the patio outside of CVA instead. “Back in our day, engagements were not destination events. We even knew somebody that got engaged in the dining common. They shall remain nameless, but they just couldn’t wait,” said Warren.

Before he could pop the question, however, Jean’s roommate opened the door to tell her that her mom was on the phone. Jean said, “Well, I answered the phone, ‘Hey, Mom! Did you have a good trip?’ She says, ‘Jeanie, listen! Your grandmother has this ring that was given to her … by a boy she never married, and it’s just sitting there in her jewelry box. Do you want to have it? I can mail it to you.’ And I said, ‘Well, Mom, don’t you think we ought to wait until he asks me first?’ And she says, ‘Well, he asked your dad at the airport.’ And I said, ‘Really? Mom, let me call you back. Let me go back outside.’ Click. So, … I go back outside and sit down and go, ‘Ok. Where were we?’ ”

Warren and Jean were married in August, just three months later, and planned the wedding in only three days. They’ve been in harmony ever since. Warren is the director of choral activities for BJU and conducts the Chorale and the Chamber Singers, BJU’s two premiere choirs. He also founded and conducts the Rivertree Singers, a choral ensemble of Greenville musicians. Jean accompanies for all three choral groups and is adjunct faculty at BJU.

“(Jean) challenges me at every moment. It’s a great collaboration. She’s enthusiastic and optimistic. Always cheering me on. … Jean’s the best part,” said Warren. In Jean’s words, “And it just gets better and better. It’s like we finish each other’s sentences. We pick up the phone to call each other at the same time. We’re thinking of the same thing at the same time. Or a lot of the time we’re thinking of the same song at the same time because we work together so much in music. It’s just great.”

Jeff and Kim Stegall

Jeff and Kim Stegall met while Jeff was in graduate school and Kim was an undergraduate student at BJU. Jeff had to wait seven years for the scales to fall off Kim’s eyes, but he never wavered. Today, he serves in BJU’s theatre department, and Kim is occasionally involved with Living Gallery and other productions.

Jonny and Kathryn Gamet

Jonny and Kathryn Gamet met as Radio and Television Broadcasting undergraduate students at BJU. While Jonny’s first impression indeed left its mark, it wasn’t the mark he would have preferred to leave. An enthusiastic freshman, Jonny had signed up to help with the daily news practicum and was assigned as cameraman to Kathryn’s—a junior—team. The upperclassmen were to be at the studio at 5 a.m., and the underclassmen were to be there at 5:30. Jonny overslept. He recalls, “I obviously didn’t have time to shower or anything like that. So, running out the door, … I smell like I got out of bed, and (I decide) I’m just going to cover it up. So, I grab my cologne, and I (spray it on), and I just ran. … And I get in there and burst through the doors—”

“And we smelled him before we saw him,” Kathryn said. “This is my first memory of him.”

In spite of a rocky beginning, Jonny and Kathryn eventually became friends. In a close-knit major, the two were always around each other, and Jonny was attracted to Kathryn though she was dating someone from her hometown at the time. “So, in the meantime, he dated all my friends,” said Kathryn. Jonny did get his chance, however. Kathryn broke up with her boyfriend before her senior year, but Jonny and Kathryn didn’t start dating until late fall the following year when Jonny was a junior and Kathryn was a teaching GA for the RTV department.

“We did not date very long,” said Kathryn. By the next summer, the two were engaged. Kathryn had gone to Colorado to meet Jonny’s family. “Some friends of mine had kind of hinted that I was going to get engaged while I was out there. … I was ready. I had all new clothes. … Every day, they took me to something like quintessential Colorado. We did something fun every day. And so, every day I was like, ‘Today could be the day.’ … And I looked good the whole time because I just didn’t know when it was going to happen,” Kathryn recollected. She had even told her sisters to come visit so they could go wedding gown shopping together when she got home with her ring. But when she got home, she didn’t have a ring.

What Kathryn didn’t know was that Jonny and her father had already set a plan in motion. Every summer, Kathryn’s family would rent a lake house in Deep Creek Lake, Maryland, with another family in their church. One of her sisters would come for the first half of the week, and the other would come for the second half, and they would overlap for a day. On this overlapping day, Kathryn’s mom was tasked with getting Kathryn away from the house. When Kathryn, her mom and her oldest nephew came back from the lake, her dad came downstairs carrying a package of shirts from Jonny. Jonny had teased Kathryn that they should get matching T-shirts for their annual family vacations. Kathryn’s response: “No, we’re not going to do that. That’s not who we are.” When she heard he sent a box of shirts, she thought, “Oh, my word. He sent the shirts.” She noticed as her dad was passing out the shirts that he hadn’t given her one. He told her that, no, she didn’t get a shirt; she could take the picture. She also didn’t notice what was on the shirts until everyone was lining up for the photo. It was then that she saw that the shirts spelled, “Will you marry.”

About that time, Kathryn heard footsteps coming down from the upper level of the lake house. Jonny came down wearing a shirt that said, “Me?” “It really surprised me, and everyone was all excited. My sisters loved being part of it,” Kathryn said.

Jonny and Kathryn were married the next summer. While they knew Jonny would be taking Kathryn’s position as the RTV GA, they weren’t sure what Kathryn would do until the week of their wedding. The week of commencement, Kathryn and the leadership of the School of Fine Arts and Communication began conversations about a teaching position that had recently opened in the RTV department. Kathryn received the job offer just a few days before she and Jonny were married. She has continued in this position since.

Jonny worked on two master’s degrees while he was a GA. He also had the opportunity to work for ESPN Upstate reporting on high school football games. His Coach’s Show grew from airing on only four stations to 20 stations across South Carolina, North Carolina and Georgia by the time Jonny left ESPN. After holding a couple of other positions in town, Jonny was hired to be the sports information director for the BJU Bruins in 2012.

Jonny and Kathryn love serving together at BJU. As Kathryn said, “And the thing about it is, between my students and the athletes, and then we lead the Antigua (mission) team, … my kids have a lot of college kids they look up to and who are good examples in their lives, and I just think that’s awesome. And it’s busy. It’s busy. But I think it’s good, too, that they can see just different aspects and different perspectives on, you know, life, and they thrive on it, and they love going to games, and they just love being here. And that’s exciting for us.”

 

Couples kiss on the Palmetto Green (Photo by Derek Eckenroth)

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