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Clyde and Gwen Antwine: A living snapshot of love and evangelism


It all began with a snapshot. Clyde Antwine was 15 and active in FFA. He raised a prize-winning steer that he sold for $40. He used the money to attend a camp at Abilene Christian University. At camp, he met a lot of young people, including one girl who, according to his report, seemed always to be surrounded by boys. He managed to take her picture before returning home. He kept the picture in his wallet. Five years later, as a student at Abilene, he was eating at “The Bean” when Gwen came and sat down. He showed the picture of her he had taken. Romance blossomed, and six months later, they married. On their 50th anniversary, he shared that story with students at Oklahoma Christian University where Clyde and Gwen are respected for their genuine love for people and their example of soul winning. Clyde still carries that picture, which he shared with me when I met him.
The Antwines have devoted their lives to missions. Shortly after his graduation, they sailed to Germany to work. They returned to the U.S. after 13 years to work in Portland, Ore., but their German connection has never been broken. They have a son and two daughters and have raised one of their grandsons. They remain close to their family, and the children hosted a wonderful reception for them the day after Clyde’s chapel presentation.
I first met Clyde about 16 years ago. He and Gwen had returned to the U.S. because of some health problems. Howard Norton, a longtime friend of the Antwines, had invited me to lunch with him and Clyde. Clyde told me of the work that he had done in Zurich, Augsburg and Munich for more than 20 years. Both Antwines were fluent in German, and I learned they were uncertain about what they wanted to do for the next phase of life.
Norton began outlining a plan. He was dreaming that the Antwines could be at Oklahoma Christian and model and inspire a mission spirit in students for another generation. Clyde would serve as a missionary in residence, teaching a little and working closely with students preparing to go to the mission field. He would organize student campaigns for the summer.
The plan became a reality. And Gwen began working as the office manager at The Christian Chronicle. They both interacted daily with students, faculty and staff. Clyde began working with the Helpers In Missions program at the church adjoining the campus. He helped train people who were going as two-year interns at mission congregations around the world.
During the Antwines’ years in Oklahoma City, they have touched countless lives. Their godly example has made them friends to hundreds of college students who have gone on to provide strength and leadership in churches in and out of the U.S. They have taken numerous students on summer campaigns. They have prepared at least 64 Helpers in Missions workers for the field and then encouraged them through all the stresses of their service. At least six of those are now working full time on the mission field.
In addition, they have stayed in touch with the churches in Germany and Switzerland. They have visited once or twice each year. They have taken campaigns back to sing in the cities to promote evangelistic meetings. In 12 years they took a total of 198 campaigners.
They have encouraged European preachers and members. They have even mediated in church disputes. They have illustrated an important principle for international missions. When missionaries must return home, if they can continue to encourage and support by maintaining ties, visiting and praying, they can mature people and churches.
I remember that in the first years that Clyde and Gwen were back in the U.S., Clyde determined that he wanted to build Gwen her dream home. They had never owned a home before, and so they created a home with all the spaces Gwen had seen in her years of moving around. That house has been a gathering place for their friends, campaigners, church family and missionaries coming home to report and raise support.
The Antwines are icons of longtime, successful missionary workers. This year Clyde had some serious health problems, including heart bypass surgery. He was walking on a cane and struggling to get around — but determined to recover so he could go back to Zurich to encourage their friends in the church there. By late July, they were on their way.
Clyde still carries in his wallet the snapshot he made more than 55 years ago when he first saw Gwen at camp. He enjoys telling their love story.
Gwen and Clyde are a living snapshot of continuing effectiveness in promoting world evangelism.
Nov. 1, 2006

Filed under: Insight

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