BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (BP) — Donna Gaines was honored with the 2019 Willie Turner Dawson Award during the June 11 Ministers’ Wives Luncheon at the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting in Birmingham, Ala.
In presenting the award to Gaines, wife of Bellevue Baptist Church senior pastor Steve Gaines, Mary Cox described what the award represents: “It’s about a woman who has godly character, who has served the Lord alongside her husband, and has been a great example as a minister’s wife.” Cox is the wife of Frank Cox, pastor of North Metro First Baptist Church in Lawrenceville, Ga.
“She has done something that no one else in the country has done that I know of,” Cox said of Gaines. “She is the president and the founder of ARISE2Read, a nonprofit that is in our public school system … breaking the poverty cycle through the Gospel of Jesus Christ and education.
“Now we don’t usually hear that in the same sentence. So Donna, you’ve done really well there and we’re just so grateful for what you have accomplished this far and what God’s going to do with that even in the future.”
Cox said as a new pastor’s wife, she met Gaines about 30 years ago and was “very impressed with Donna always.”
“I just thought one day if I could be the pastor’s wife that Donna Gaines has been so far, I will do good!” Cox said.
Citing Gaines’ passion for God, His Word, her family, and her church, Cox said, “She knows how to study the Word and teach the Word. She teaches it with urgency. She teaches it with conviction. It is evident she also loves her people; she just loves her congregation and loves people well.”
Gaines is the author of four books, “Choose Wisely, Live Fully: Lessons from Wisdom & Folly, the Two Women of Proverbs”; “Leaving Ordinary: Encounter God through Extraordinary Power”; “Seated: Living from our Position in Christ”; and “There’s Gotta Be More: Enjoying the Spirit-Filled Life.”
Embracing God’s missional calling on her life, Gaines mobilizes women to live out their faith through both inner-city and international efforts. She and her husband have four children and 14 grandchildren, with one on the way.
In her remarks, Gaines replied, “I have to tell you, I love pastors’ wives. I love you and I accept this on behalf of all of you who are serving faithfully alongside your husbands, who are there with them in the good times and the bad, who cry with them and who rejoice with them who cry, who weep, who rejoice.”
Nobody understands the role of the pastor’s wife like another pastor’s wife, Gaines noted.
“We live in a culture right now where we need each other, and we need to be unified in the Spirit … because our Lord is returning, and my desire is to be faithful until I see Him face to face. So may we live every day for that day,” she said.
Each year, the Dawson Award recognizes a minister’s wife for making a distinct denominational contribution beyond the local church and for her Christian character and service to others.
The Willie Turner Dawson Award was established in 1963 when the ministers’ wives group posthumously honored Willie Turner Dawson, wife of J.M. Dawson, pastor of First Baptist Church in Waco, Texas. Willie Turner Dawson was a teacher and lecturer who in 1930 successfully challenged the Southern Baptist Convention to give more to overseas missions through the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering.