My SAM Story: Catch Me If You Can! (Vonda Guidry)
My first encounter with a singles group was one that will forever be etched in my memory. One evening I was sitting with two of my friends on a bench on the Texas Bible College campus just talking when three elderly ladies came running up to us and invited us to “A Singles Event!” They were SO excited about it! My friends and I looked at each other and said, “If you go I’ll go” – there’s safety in numbers, you know. At that point, we didn’t really want to go but one of the ladies was our dorm mother and we felt like we couldn’t say no to her.
The three elderly single ladies excitedly climbed in the front of the car and we younger single ladies climbed in the back. The three elderly ladies were giggling like school girls – hoping to meet a soul mate is what we guessed. We were NOT giggling and were dreading the unknown!
Upon arriving at “The Singles Event,” we discovered there weren’t many singles in our age group. The speaker for this event began her message by giving statistics of how many singles there were in the world, divorced, unmarried, widowed, etc. and you could feel her burden. It was an interesting experience and the food was good!
Be careful what you wish for
If you’re not careful, as a single person, your desire to belong to someone, to have someone who cares for you, can make you make wrong decisions and jump into a relationship.
I fell into this trap. While I was at Bible college it seemed like everyone had a boyfriend or a girlfriend and I felt so alone! My three roommates would go into a room and talk and giggle for hours about their boyfriends. Sooo, my prayer one night was, “Lord I want someone to love me! I want a boyfriend!!” The Lord DOES answer prayers! That next Sunday night a cute young man caught my eye, I threw it back to him, he asked me out and we dated for a couple of months. He became more serious than I was and then told me he loved me and wanted to get married! I did like him, but when I prayed about our relationship I felt like I was hitting a brick wall! I couldn’t tell this young man that I loved him – I just couldn’t feel it! One night in my prayer time, I cried out in desperation and asked the Lord, “Why can’t I feel a love for him?! Why?! Why?! Why?!” The Lord spoke to me and said,
“You asked me for someone to love you and I gave you that. You didn’t ask that you would love him!”
My light came on and I broke off our relationship.
Pioneering a singles ministry
Many years later, after graduating from Bible college,”still single” I moved to the Rio Grande Valley to help out in my brother-in-law’s and sister’s church in Raymondville, Texas. In our church there were three singles: me, a lady that was in her 30’s and an elderly lady in her 60’s.
Soon after, I began to meet other single people in the Valley churches that were hungry for fellowship with other singles. Thus, we formed the first singles group in the Rio Grande Valley! Due to some unknown, tricky plan, I was named president of this group even though I didn’t even ask for the position! Our group consisted of two to three people from each church in the Valley: Raymondville, Harlingen, McAllen, and Edinburg. Our age group spanned 22 to 65 years old. Our desire was to get together once a month for fellow/lady ship.
It was not a lonely hearts club – it was a friends club!
We would take turns having events in each city. We even paid dues. We would go out to eat, go to a service together, and go to parks, but mainly we’d sit and laugh and talk for hours. We even had a Christmas Banquet with a special speaker. We felt like a small family!
We encountered some resistance early in our ministry when leadership sometimes did not understand our purpose and burden. In those moments, we sometimes felt very discouraged, but my pastor, Johnny Grissom, encouraged us to continue with our meetings and we did.
One of my favorite memories was when Bro. N., who was blind, called me one day and said,”there’s a Christian concert here in McAllen. We should all go to it!!” I readily agreed and we called everyone and bought tickets for this concert. We all sat in one row, Bro. N. on one side of me and Sis. S., the 65-year-old widow, on the other. I had never heard this artist in concert so I was blown away when he came out in a sparkly jumpsuit and strobe lights began flashing!! It WAS a “Christian concert,” remember! Also, remember, Bro. N. was blind and had NO idea of what was going on! I would always describe things to him. This time I had no words! On my other side, Sis. S. had her arms firmly crossed, with a grim reaper look plastered on her face, and I heard sounds of “Mmmmphh! Mmmmph!” coming from her throat! I was going to be in trouble – I just knew it! Bro. N. kept asking me, “What is going on?!” Thank goodness my brother-in-law was an understanding pastor who had a good laugh about all of it in the end.
During this time, I was in contact with my future husband. He was in Colorado and I prayed him down to the Valley – another story for another day. He eventually moved to the Valley and joined our singles group. We became engaged and the singles group gave us the dues money we had collected for a wedding present. God honors faithfulness!
I was 28 and my husband was 27 when we got married. We became assistant pastors in Raymondville, Texas. From there we went to Alice, Texas to pastor for 5 ½ years, then went to Nuevo Laredo, Mexico as AIMers for 11 ½ years. From Northern Mexico we went on to Spain for 3 years as missionaries, and are now missionaries to Colombia! We have two adult children (Phillip who is 26 and Amanda who is 22), one son-in-law, Kale, and 3 GRANDdogs, “Yoda”, “P.J.” and “Vader.” I have no regrets about the paths God has led me through to get to this wonderful place in my life and I would do it all over again!