By Forrest Zander
Forrest Zander joined SIL International in 1957. He has served in Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, and he is presently working remotely for Wycliffe USA. His late wife, Margaret, started work with SIL in 1954. Margaret and Forrest shared a passion for the ministry of Bible translation and were a team up until her passing in 2013. This is Forrest’s story of how God answered his prayers for comfort in a way he never imagined during the difficult time of losing his wife.
During those dark, dismal, difficult days following the passing of my beloved Margaret, I prayed to the Lord, reminding him that in dark and difficult events, he had shown himself faithful to turn a dark situation into one of light, hope and blessing.
I asked him to do that for me again.
After the memorial service, my daughter and her family invited me to visit them in Wisconsin. During my visit, my grandson, Colbey, asked, “Papa, now that Grandma Margaret is with Jesus, are you going to get married?”
Later, I pondered his question and decided he needed an answer. I told Colbey that if I were to remarry, I would first look for a woman who loves the Lord with all her heart, soul, strength and mind and loves her neighbor as herself. Next, I hoped that she would be attractive and beautiful. And lastly, I would pray that she would join me in ministry and travel with me — that she would fill that empty seat beside me. I shared this with Colbey and asked him to join me in praying for someone like this. I also asked my children how they would feel if I remarried. All three were supportive and told me they trusted my judgment and wanted me to be happy.
The Lord directed my thoughts to Wanda Jean Reid. Her husband was our pastor over twenty years ago. Two years ago, her beloved husband Rich passed away after a difficult bout with cancer.
I decided to call Wanda. She agreed to have dinner, and I told her I would like to make it a very special evening, to dress up and go to an upscale restaurant. I brought a corsage and picked her up at her home. We had a delightful time communicating over a delicious dinner. On the way back, I showed her the neighborhood where I grew up.
I had planned to visit Wisconsin for a few days, and I asked Wanda if she would like to travel with me. She accepted.
We spent four wonderful days at the lake — praying, sharing Scripture and devotional thoughts, enjoying the beautiful scenery and walking the wooded trails. As we talked about our values, we found agreement in every area as the Lord began knitting our hearts together. By the end of the four days, we knew this relationship was from the Lord.
A local church had invited me to teach at a special children’s event the following Thursday. Wanda agreed to go with me. The staff had made a video of me telling pilot stories from South America and wanted the kids to meet the character in the video and see how missionaries can serve in a variety of roles.
After the event, encouraged with how our relationship was blossoming, I got down on my knees, looked into Wanda’s beautiful blue eyes, and proposed.
Oh, joy! Wanda said, “Yes.”
We had a small, intimate family wedding. After the ceremony, the group of us celebrated at the same restaurant where we had our first date.
This October 13 marked the first anniversary of our marriage. Both of us had such wonderful first marriages, and it is a joy to once again be deeply in love and enjoying ministry as a team. Wanda has become the person for whom I prayed. She loves the Lord with her whole heart, is really beautiful, and has become a wonderful ministry partner and asset in our work with Wycliffe. It is a joy to visit ministry partners together and to share in churches, “Yes, the Lord has done amazing things for us! What joy!” (Psalm 126:3, NLT).