Richard and Margaret Columbia raised 17 children
(including two sets of twins) born to them between 1945 and 1966. Margaret
ministered as church hostess at First Assembly of God in Memphis, Tenn.,
for 19 years under pastors James E. Hamill and Frank Martin. When Richard
passed away on December 2, 1996, the Columbias had been married for
more than 52 years. Margaret now resides in Port Clyde, Maine. Her children
are all serving the Lord. She has 28 grandchildren. Margaret talked
with Scott Harrup, general editor, about the joys and challenges of
raising a family for Christ.
Evangel: Where did you and Richard meet?
At a camp meeting in Quebec, Canada. My father was an evangelist with
the Advent Christian Church. I grew up in Maine, Richard was from northern
Vermont, and that revival was just over the border.
Evangel: What was it like raising 17 children?
Columbia: Its just the same as raising
one. You think of it as 17 times 1.
Evangel: What are some of them doing today?
Columbia: Sarah, our youngest, is married
to Pastor David Rosenberger of Pennsylvania. Our youngest twins, Eunice
and Bernice, are also married to ministers. Eunices husband, Ken
Roach, pastors in Kansas. Bernices husband, Mark Bradford, works
at Assemblies of God Theological Seminary. Our daughter Rhoda serves
at Central Bible College, and our son John graduated from Central Bible
College and is pursuing the ministry. Our other children live across
the country serving the Lord in different careers.
Evangel: Your family was known at First Assembly
for working together.
Columbia: Richard and I always did everything
together. That was our life. He worked as a grocer. When he got off
work, he helped at the church even though he was never paid. I never
could have served as the hostess without him. Several of the children
also worked at the church. It started when they began collecting the
trays after meals and people would leave change on the trays for them.
Then some of them took jobs in the kitchen. It provided them with a
little spending money. We couldnt afford allowances.
Evangel: What were some spiritual milestones
for your children?
Columbia: Several of them made their salvation
decisions at church camps when they were young. Others got saved during
childrens church or in the regular service. I also taught childrens
church for a number of years and watched them mature there and in First
Assemblys youth group. Early on, we had family devotions. That
was difficult once everyone was old enough to have a different schedule.
Looking back, I wish we could have had more devotions. But we always
kept the children in church.
Evangel: Some cherished memories?
Columbia: Some of my favorite memories are
from Christmas. We couldnt afford to give the kids presents at
their birthdays. We would have ice cream and cake to celebrate each
birthday. But we made Christmas special. I also remember when the grandchildren
were born. Thats when my kids called "Mama" to help
Evangel: What advice would you give young parents
Columbia: God comes first. Take your children
to church. You dont ask them if they want to go; you insist that
they go. It becomes a habit, and its a good habit. Pursue anything
that draws them to God. Make your entertainment Christ-centered.
In your marriage, try to do everything together.
You cant pull in different directions. Thats half the problem
in families today. There is no togetherness.