SBC Life Articles

From ‘Princess,’ to Crisis, to Victory

Pam Adams and her friends agreed. She had lived a fairytale life. Throughout her childhood, Pam can remember her mother praying and reading the Bible every night. At age 7, she received Christ into her heart. "My mom had a station wagon, and our car was always full of kids, my friends, on the way to church," she said. "I was just really on fire for the Lord."

During her sophomore year of high school, Pam committed her life to full-time Christian service. As a teenager, she worked at Missouri Baptists' Camp Windermere as a counselor, went on the Missouri Acteen Activator trip, and served on the 1981 National Acteens Panel. While staying busy at First Baptist Church, Jefferson City, Pam began dating Allen Parke during her junior year of high school. At the end of her first year of college, she and Allen married.

Pam graduated with a teaching degree, and Allen completed his undergraduate work and began law school. Meanwhile, the couple taught children's Sunday school at First Baptist.

Pam thought of her commitment to ministry and, after accepting a position as a public school elementary teacher, her prayers were answered: "A lady from my church said to me, 'There is no greater ministry than being a public school teacher.'"

Three months before Allen graduated from law school, the couple learned they were expecting their first child. During this time, the couple moved their membership to Concord Baptist Church in Jefferson City where they began teaching youth Sunday school.

One night in May while teaching the twenty-member youth group, Allen presented the message of salvation. He stressed the importance of living for Christ every day. Allen had read some statistics saying one person in the room would be dead within the next ten years. "He actually pointed at some of the kids," Pam recounted, "and said, 'It could be you, Lindsay. Or you. Or even me.'"

At the end of June, Allen's leg was bruised after a softball hit him. He was taking a class during the day and studying at night to prepare for the bar exam. Then he started to get fevers and backaches. "I came home one night and Allen was on all fours complaining about his back," Pam said.

The next day, Pam took Allen to a doctor who dismissed the pain as an ulcer from the stress of preparing for the bar exam. Pam told her friend, a nurse, who suggested getting a second opinion. The second doctor said Allen had pneumonia and placed him in the hospital for five days. Even though he did not seem to be much better, Pam said the doctor assured her Allen would be fine if he went home and rested for a few days.

Within two days, Allen's condition worsened. Pam called her doctor, a third one, who found fluid around Allen's heart and admitted him into the intensive care unit at the local hospital.

"I wasn't really worried because I had lived this princess life," Pam said. "It always seemed that God answered my prayers the way I wanted." Pam and her friends visited Allen, who seemed to be doing better, and she and her sister went home that night. As she walked in the door of her apartment, the telephone rang. Her doctor said Allen had gone into shock, and they had to fly him to Columbia, Mo., to a hospital.

Again, Pam said she wasn't really worried. Twelve couples from her church sat and prayed with her at the hospital, but she never got to see her husband again.

Two nurses entered the waiting room and said Allen had stopped breathing, but they were still working. "Within five minutes, two doctors came in and said, 'We did all we could, but we were unable to save his life.'" Allen had died of pulmonary embolism. Blood clots reached his heart and caused a massive heart attack.

"I fell apart, of course," Pam said. Her friends helped and sustained her, she added. "The Lord really took me through the next few days." She was now six months pregnant, in the middle of building a house, and widowed.

"God used my tragedy to minister to others," Pam recounted. "I don't have all the answers as to why God took Allen's life. But God was good, and He sustained me." Three teenagers gave their lives to Christ and several couples said their marriages were strengthened as a result of Allen's sudden death.

Pam's parents helped her through the last three months of her pregnancy while she began teaching again in the fall. Alyssa was born Nov. 21, 1987, a week before Thanksgiving. "The holidays were hard. The grief really set in during the winter," Pam said.

The widowed mother said she knew there was a purpose for Allen's life and death, and while she grieved, she also learned to submit to God's sovereignty. Pam claimed various passages of Scripture to see her through the difficulties she faced.

In her bedroom, bathroom, classroom, and car, Pam posted Psalm 27:13-14: "I believe that I shall see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord."

Another Old Testament passage to which she clung was Isaiah 41:10: "Do not fear, for I am with you, do not be afraid, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand."

From the New Testament, Pam claimed 1 Peter 5:6-11, and gave special attention to verse 10: "And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, support, strengthen and establish you."

Throughout all the struggles she faced, God was working His plan of restoration in her life, she reflected. In January 1988, Kendall Adams and his fiancé began looking for a church in which to wed. The couple visited Concord Baptist, where Kendall filled out a visitor's card. That afternoon, two of Pam's friends witnessed to Kendall, and he accepted Christ the next night. Kendall, on fire for the Lord, called off his engagement. One year later, he gave his testimony during a revival while Pam was working in the nursery.

"Everyone coming in the nursery kept talking about some guy named Kendall and his testimony," she said. Finally, the two were brought together. Kendall began teaching Sunday school in the same department as Pam, the youth department. These two instant friends said they do not know when their friendship changed into a dating relationship. "I just knew the Lord wanted us to be married," Pam said. In December 1990, the couple married.

Within two years of their marriage, Kendall realized God was calling him to preach, and Pam was thrilled. "I was called into the ministry as a sophomore in high school," Pam said. "My ministry was fulfilled by teaching Sunday school and youth with Allen and as a pastor's wife with Kendall."

Kendall earned a Bible degree at Missouri Baptists' Hannibal-LaGrange College while serving as pastor of First Missionary Baptist Church. After deciding he needed more training, the Adamses moved to Kansas City for Kendall to work on a master of divinity at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Pam enrolled in the WISDOM (Wives in Seminary Developing Our Ministries) classes. Through them she has found encouragement in playing an important role as Kendall's mate, noting, "This is a team ministry." During the past year, the two have been active members of Trinity North Baptist Church in Kansas City, where Kendall leads evangelism outreach and Pam teaches missions education to children.

Kendall was set to graduate in May and has been called as pastor of First Southern Baptist Church, Burlington, Iowa. "Kendall is the spiritual leader in my home," Pam noted, "and I just give all the glory to God."

    About the Author

  • Andrea Aldridge