Safe At Home
By Wendy Wippel
Early in our marriage my husband went to a conference in New York with our church’s men’s group and came home absolutely raving about everything he had learned. He gave me the materials to look at but, well, I never got around to it. He was a baby Christian and I was teaching women’s studies! What could his conference stuff –from a guy I had never heard of –teach me? Fast forward seven years and we’ve been relocated to Mississippi, I’m unpacking, and I come across the well-stuffed notebook that I’d chosen to ignore seven years before.
The author’s name was Chuck Missler. And thus began a love affair (admittedly one -sided) that endured until his death last week. Because, when I finally did look into Chuck’s stuff, I was hooked.
So, when I found out that Chuck was having a meet and greet at a Franklin, TN restaurant, we were there. A repeat the next year? There again.
Not long after that Koinonia house sponsored an apologetics contest. I was then a homeschooling mom that used to be in medical research, and this was a chance to be a scientist again!! So I submitted a paper related to rt genetics- my actual field—specifically related to breaking research at that time which demonstrated that, incredibly, lineages could now be traced back all the way to Adam and Eve using the sex chromosomes which don’t reassort during procreation. Incredibly—really, totally, incredibly, I won, and at that point Chuck flew me out to Coeur d’Alene for the annual conference. Chuck was the epitome of gracious, and invited me to a private dinner with him as well as the other speakers at the conference.
Needless to say, I was awestruck.
Fast forward maybe three or four years, maybe five.
My husband and I had purposed shortly after I had birthed daughter # two to get our kids to all 50 states before our oldest graduated from college, and this particular year we had carved out Dakotas, Idaho and Washington.
And of course, if we were going to be in Idaho, and Chuck was going to be teaching?
You got it. We are there. We confirmed dates and times, and soon found ourselves sitting in Chuck’s home church. We were a little early, and Chuck was using the time to field questions from the people already in the stands. And it wasn’t long till realized I hadn’t been able to nail down something I had been wondering about and decided to ask him what he knew.
So I held up my hand. And he acknowledged it.
“I was wondering”, I said, “if the Ethiopian’s who claim to guard the Ark of the Covenant, have had any genetic testing?” (If they have strong Jewish ancestry, that would support their claims).
Chuck, obviously not really hearing the question, answered a question I hadn’t asked, so I repeated: “Has any genetic testing been performed on the Ethiopian guardians of the Ark of the covenant, in order to ascertain their genetic ancestry?”
Chuck’s reply? “Oh. I see. We have someone associated with our ministry that is an expert on those kinds of things, and I can refer you to her.”
“Her name is Wendy Wippel.”
Well. Obviously, that was the last answer I was expecting! I was floored. Absolutely floored! So much so that what came out of my mouth was only this: “But I am Wendy Wippel!” Followed immediately by absolute horror at the realization that I had made my idol kind of look like a fool. Chuck, from the stage, apologized for not recognizing me.
After the teaching ended, I made my way up to offer my apology. Chuck had really only met me a few times, not at all in at least several years, and there was no reason whatsoever for him to expect to see me sitting in his home church in Idaho, when he knew that I lived in Mississippi. He had no reason to apologize to me whatsoever. But that’s just the kind of guy he was. Personable and absolutely gracious.
If you have been to lots of Christian conferences you’ve probably noticed that not every prominent pastor and or teacher has spent enough time in I Corinthians 13, the chapter that says no matter how much Bible you may have stored up in your brain, if you don’t have love in your heart you are essentially on the sidelines for God. I’ve certainly met a few that are downright curmudgeons.
But not Chuck. He had the verse right. “And now abides faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” (I Cor 13:13)
But I have to confess that the fact that I feel like he taught me everything I now know is a very close second.
We all miss you, Chuck!
Come, Lord Jesus!