The year was 1942. Dwight Coder was 20 and had just met 17-year-old Barbara, a junior in high school. Their friends had introduced them, and they all began “hanging out” together. The more they talked, the more they realized that their relatives all knew each other. Dwight knew Barbara’s grandparents, as well as her aunts and uncles. His dad was a blacksmith and a farrier who had shoed her grandfather’s horses. And then there was the fact that Dwight’s sister and Barbara’s aunt were best friends in high school and had grown up together in the same church!
Things were going well, and Dwight and Barbara had been dating a couple of months when he realized that he was going to be drafted into the military. In order to have the choice of which branch of military service he wished to be in, Dwight joined the Navy and was sent overseas.
Imagine the heartbreak Barbara felt as she found herself saying goodbye to her new boyfriend. It seemed like all the young men were being drafted, and a sense of insecurity hung over all the young people as they said goodbye, never knowing whether they would see each other again.
“We didn’t know if we would live or die from one day to the next,” Barbara says. “Every block of a neighborhood had an air warden appointed to scan the skies for enemy bombers. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor we didn’t know if or where Japan would attack us next! Our lives were very much affected by the war with blackouts, and we all huddled around the radio for the latest reports about the war.”
And then there were the ration stamps needed in order to purchase such things as sugar, shoes, tires, and gas. It seemed like everyone’s shoes were patched on the bottom to make them last longer. So it was during those difficult times after Barbara and Dwight said goodbye.
Even though they corresponded a couple of times, it seemed like they were not destined to be together. The letters had stopped coming—until the day Barbara received a letter telling her that he was dating an Irish girl, whom he later married. By then, Barbara had also decided not to wait and began dating the young man who would become her husband for 55 years. A year and a half after he died, Barbara married one of her husband’s army buddies. Sadly, her happiness was short-lived. Soon after their marriage they discovered that he had cancer of the esophagus, and he died after just three years of marriage.
Another year and a half went by, and one day Dwight’s sister and a friend of Barbara’s invited them both out to dinner. Dwight’s wife had died three years before, and even though 63 years had passed, the attraction was still there! Three months later they were married on October 13, 2005. “I believe God had His hand over us, getting us back together again,” Dwight says.
When Barbara was 10, a neighbor invited her and her two younger brothers to Sabbath School, and they loved it. The boys took their copy of Our Little Friend (a children’s magazine) home for Mama to read to them. Barbara says this little paper was instrumental in her family becoming Seventh-day Adventists. Although her father was convinced of the truth in the teachings of the church, for some reason he resisted baptism with the rest of his family. Then one day, years later, they stopped in Bowling Green, Kentucky, on their way to Florida, and dropped in for a visit with Pastor H. R. Veach. To the surprise of the entire family, her father then asked Pastor Veach to baptize him! The pastor decided there was no time like the present and said, “Let’s all go down to the river. You ladies sing while I do the baptism.” Barbara says she was so grateful for this, since only one year later, her father unexpectedly passed away at the young age of 49.
Dwight had been a Christian man, too, and although he was not a Seventh-day Adventist, he was happy to watch 3ABN with his bride, who has been a long time viewer. When the ’05 Revive series with Doug Batchelor began on 3ABN, Dwight was intrigued by what he heard and wanted to know more. He became a regular viewer of all the speakers on 3ABN, and later, when Shawn Boonstra made an appeal to follow Jesus, Dwight stood to his feet in their living room to indicate that he wanted to be baptized.
What a happy day it was just this past June, when Pastor Fred Troxel lowered Dwight into the baptismal waters in Shelbyville, Indiana. With his sins forgiven, and a new life in Christ, Dwight emerged knowing he had made the most important decision of his life. “My church family loved him into our church,” Barbara says. “It’s like a large family, and I know he felt right at home.”
What a joy it was to have Barbara and Dwight at our 3ABN Spring Camp Meeting recently. Like so many others, this lovely couple even came a few days early to volunteer. Even now, 3ABN continues to make a difference in their lives. “You don’t know how it keeps our spirits up all week long to watch 3ABN,” Barbara says. Well, yes, we do, Barbara. Yes, we do.