April 26, 1931- December 19, 2008
Please allow me to share with you about my most precious hero of all, Edith Swanson Iverson. She was born April 26, 1931, just one year after me. We didn’t cross paths until she was 16. That meeting took place in a church service that I was visiting with my pastor, T.L. Osborn. I was on the platform playing the bass violin. The little church I attended had but six young people so I was always on the lookout for pretty girls! This night I looked up and saw a beautiful girl with long blonde hair, the prettiest girl I had seen in a long time! While standing on the platform I said to myself, I’ve got to get to know who she is. So after the service I made sure that I accidently bumped into her, and the rest is history, as they say. I lived in Portland and she lived in Oregon City. In those days that was quite a ways away. Many phone calls and letters were exchanged and we fell in love. I was 18 years of age but I knew she was the one I was to marry.
I graduated high school and worked for nearly a year at the Hanford project, 200 miles away from Portland. Every two weeks I would drive home for a weekend to spend time with Edie. I gave her a ring when she was 18 and I was 19. Our lives separately briefly as she went off to Bible College in North Battleford, Saskatchewan, and I went as a tent boy with T.L. Osborn. The following summer when I returned home, after starting my ministry as an evangelist and preaching in Jamaica, we were married. We had no money, but we had a lot of love.
Our honeymoon was in a little 21 foot trailer that we towed to the Metolius River in Central Oregon. By the way, we lived in that trailer in Portland for the first year of our marriage! I must say Edie was the right fit for me. She was a very positive lady. We were faith people, trusting God, but had very little to call our own. There began our ministry together that lasted over 58 years.
I was working on the side and, with my father, was pastoring the little church that became Bible Temple and now City Bible. After being married a short time, I decided we would return to Jamaica where I had started my ministry. I was 20 and she was 19. We drove all the way across the United Statesand flew to Jamaica where we started holding revival meetings with an emphasis on divine healing. We saw many many miracles and many people were saved. She was known as the “white healer.” We were very excited about what God was doing and our hearts were knit together in ministry.
During this time we went to the British Isles, and Ireland in particular, where God blessed our ministry. Edie was the worship leader in our meetings where we would draw crowds up to 5,000 people. Many signs and wonders took place. This was the start of our ministry that never stopped as we went from place to place, country to country, watching God do many miracles.
Our first baby, Debra, was born in 1953 and we took her to Ireland at 2 ½ years old and spent all of 1955 in the British Isles, again seeing God confirm His word with signs following. Every auditorium was filled to capacity and many nights we would hold two services in an evening because there was so much hunger and people were getting saved by the hundreds and being healed miraculously everywhere we went. My book, The Journey gives all the details of that season.
I never remember a time that Edie complained about our circumstances. We bought a home and kept pastoring with my father inPortland. I would go out for two or three months at a time but she would stay home and take care of our children. Diane was born in 1957 and in 1960 our twins, Brenda and Angela were born, though Angela passed away shortly after birth. Our last child, Tracey, was born in 1964. One of the things that Edie and I both insisted on is that we would put the family ahead of our ministry. Not ahead of God, but ahead of our ministry. We always had family night every week with my four daughters and we always had a two week vacation every summer. I look back at those years and can only say what a wonderful wife and helpmate the Lord gave me.
My father turned the church over to us in 1961 and we began to see growth, changing the name from Deliverance Temple to Bible Temple. We started Portland Bible College in 1967 where Edie was the Dean of Women for many years. She always stood by my side encouraging me to obey the will of God.
Words of complaint were not in her vocabulary, though she had signifiant health problems. She was a woman of faith and I needed her as she stood by me. Growth continued and by the time I resigned the church in 1995 we were over 3000 and had planted many churches around the nation as well as the world.
It was her delight to find just the right place for people to serve in the church. She was a great recruiter which worked well as she directed our children’s ministry for many years.
She was always ready to go on one more trip, whether in the States or international. We were very involved in missionary activity in many countries and we were totally fulfilled as two people loving the Lord and following Him.
Time went on and I stepped away from the senior pastor role with Edie’s support and we put our time into Ministers Fellowship International, a network of hundreds of independent pastors and churches who had our DNA and wanted to walk together.
Our four daughters all grew up loving the Lord and married men of God. They presented us with 13 grandchildren who were her pride and joy. She was happy to show photos of her grandkids to everyone! She was the center of our family.
We had a wonderful journey for 58 ½ years until God promoted Edie. I loved this lady.
We experienced feast and famine, ups and downs, yet she remained a woman of faith until the day she died. She is more alive today than I am as she has now experienced eternal life and her physical challenges are no more. She has a body likened unto His glorious body. I have no doubt but that there was a great round of applause for this mighty woman of faith as she entered heaven. “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”
Who can find a virtuous wife?
For her worth is far above rubies.
The heart of her husband safely trusts her;
So he will have no lack of gain.
She does him good and not evil
All the days of her life.
Her children rise up and call her blessed;
Her husband also, and he praises her:
“Many daughters have done well,
But you excel them all.”
Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing,
But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.
Give her of the fruit of her hands,
And let her own works praise her in the gates.