Vicki Rose: And one morning they said, “Mommy, we need to pray for daddy to know Jesus.”
Jim Daly: Huh.
Vicki: (Laughs). And I thought, “Pray for him? Rather kill him.” But I didn’t say it. I said, “You know, you’re right. We need to pray.” And so, we started to pray. And really, that’s where-
Vicki: … it happened, was through prayer.
End of Excerpt
John Fuller: Hm, well last time on Focus on the Family, we heard an amazing story from Bill and Vicki Rose. Uh, they had a very troubled marriage. They were separated for a number of years. And you’re going to hear how God restored them on today’s Focus broadcast with our president, Jim Daly. Thanks for joining us. I’m John Fuller.
Jim: Uh, John, if folks missed last time, get the download, get the CD, because it’s really going to set up for today.
John: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Jim: And, uh, to recap it briefly, and it won’t do justice to the story, but our guests, Bill and Vicki Rose, uh, they were married. Th- God was not a part of their life and they were living the high life in Manhattan and doing what people do. They were trying to succeed. They described themselves as both Type A personalities. And Vicki talked about that longing in her heart. She didn’t know why she was leaning so hard on Bill to fill all the voids that were in her heart. Uh, but that’s part of the process. And she described that very very well. They both got into cocaine as they were separated. They both had affairs during that time. I can’t imagine anybody being more broken in that way. And it’s, it’s a good thing because God used that brokenness to reach their hearts. And we’re going to talk about that aspect of their testimony today. Bill and Vicki, welcome back.
Vicki: Thank you.
Bill Rose: Thank you.
Vicki: Great to be here.
Jim: Um, y- we left off last time with the invitation that you had received to hear our own, uh, Don and Barbara Hodel, speak at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel there in New York. He was then Secretary of Interior. And how his and Barbara’s words compelled you to think about Christ. And that is beautiful. But I wanted to peel it back a little bit and just go back to some of those moments. You said last time that your heart wasn’t ready at certain points. That your friends would say, “Read the Psalms,” and you’d read them. And it didn’t connect with you. And I have friends that have been in that spot and are today. They’re not quite there yet. Um, talk about a moment or two where God began to pry open your heart so you could hear his word and w- what made the difference.
Vicki: That’s a great question. Um, Billy and I, uh, about two months before we separated, went on vacation to Hilton Head, South Carolina. Uh, it was, it was in May, so it was beautiful weather. And I remember sitting on a beach chair looking out at the ocean. There were families all around. Kids playing. And there I was by myself. Billy was in the hotel room trying to detox himself from cocaine.
Vicki: And I just, I had, I just sat there sobbing. Like, I want to be one of those families where the kids and the parents are all playing together. I don’t want to be this person sitting here by myself on the beach, my kids at home in New York with a babysitter and my husband locked up in the hotel room, trying to get off drugs. And I just felt the, the crushing weight of that, the emptiness, the fear of it. I was lonely and I didn’t know what the answer was. And I had always sort of self-medicated almost with th- things, you know, shopping, um, marrying, uh, a good, a great job, achieving. I was the first one placed as buyer and, you know, dressing really well and all that. I, I walked out of Saks Fifth Avenue where I worked every day with shopping bag, because we had a discount and so I could a- you know, buy something new every day. Billy used to say I paid them to work there.
Jim: (laughs) Yeah, right.
Vicki: Because I thought if I looked great, if I had the newest clothes, that everything would be all right.
Vicki: But the more I did all of that, none of it worked.
Vicki: And it was just this, this crushing emptiness.
Jim: Eh, Bill, all this is going on. You’re back in that hotel that Vicki’s describing. Tell us about where you’re at spiritually and emotionally. Vicki is awakening to the Lord. But you’re trying to get off cocaine.
Bill: I’m, I’m just in a dark place. I’m in a dark place. I’m empty. Um, I’m probably also in tears and I have a hard time seeing my future.
Jim: Hm. So desperate, really.
Jim: And Vicki, y- you turned to the Lord as we talked about. You guys are separated. How did you come back together? What conversation did you have and what did it sound like when you said, “Hey, Bill, we’re Jewish. But guess what? I just accepted Jesus Christ.” How did that conversation go?
Bill: Well I’m going to jump in on this one. Because she invited me to dinner to… There’s a place called, um… It’s not there anymore. But it was a very, very famous place in New York called Elaine’s. It’s even in a Billy Joel song.
Bill: And, um, so we went there. And Vicki tells me about her new-found faith. And she’s all gung-ho and she tells me that if I don’t believe what she believes, I’m going to hell. My parents are going to hell. We’re all perishing. We’re, we’re, we’re done. And I’m thinking, “Honey, that’s great but, you know, this is not the kind of God that I, I, I want to be, you know, part of. Mine’s a little more benevolent.” And what she was saying was not untrue, it was just the delivery.
Bill: Of, of the message, which was a little harsh, little black and white.
Bill: And, um-
Jim: Got your attention, though.
Bill: Well, it got my attention, but I thought, I really also thought it was fad that she was just going to go through.
Bill: And then it would go away.
Jim: So, what happened, Vicki, w- o- the next days, weeks, months, years? I mean, so you’re opening your heart to the Lord.
Jim: You made a profession of faith.
Vicki: I started-
Jim: How do you sort things out?
Vicki: Well, I didn’t. God did.
Vicki: That’s the short answer. But, um, after that dinner, uh, my friend gave me a book called Leading Little Ones to God. And I started reading it to our children, Douglas and Courtney, at breakfast.
Jim: And how are they at this point?
Vicki: At this point, they were four and six, about.
Vicki: And one morning they said, “Mommy, we need to pray for Daddy to know Jesus.”
Vicki: And I thought, “Pray for him? Rather kill him.” But I didn’t say it. I said, “You know, you’re right. We need to pray.” And so, we started to pray. And really that’s where-
Vicki: It happened was through prayer. And God answered those prayers. Every morning at breakfast, Douglas and Courtney and I would pray for Daddy’s to come to know Jesus. Every night when we tuck into bed, same thing. And I started asking that same prayer request at every Bible study. I called f- uh, prayer hotlines. I don’t know. You may have had one then and I probably called it. And I just kept putting Bill Rose for salvation’s name on any, anybody who would pray.
Bill: Vicki called me up and invited me to this luncheon. Um, I think it was at the Downtown Athletic Club. And she thought she had remembered that I had mentioned a guy named Bobby Richardson. Now Bobby Richardson was my hero growing up. Was a second baseman on the Yankees. He led off. He wore number one. And he played for the Yankees.
Bill: And I led off and I wore number one and the only thing I did that he didn’t do was I was a switch hitter. And, uh, told me Bobby was going to speaking. Would I be interested? And I said, “Sure.” So, um, I went to hear Bobby speak and he was very eloquent. And, um, we spoke after the luncheon. And he came back with me to the Sporting Club, which was the restaurant that I owned. And probably spent a good two hours there with me.
Bill: Um, sharing Christ with me. And I still was not ready to accept Christ at that time, but he was planting seeds and he prayed for me. And it gave me a lot of food for thought.
Jim: Right. And h- did you realize that Vicki, that that conversation was going on?
Vicki: I did.
Vicki: And I was praying.
Vicki: And a lot of people were praying. And really, more than anything, people say, some people ask me, “How did you get him to believe?” I said, “I didn’t. God did.”
Vicki: Because that’s the truth. A person cannot change another person, but God can.
Jim: Yeah. L- let’s talk about your kids because we haven’t touched on that.
Jim: Y- your children seem very in tune spiritually, to suggest that we pray for Daddy, Mom. Come on, let’s do this.
Vicki: At age four and six.
Jim: Yeah. Uh, w- talk about the impact of what th- they were feeling watching you. Did you talk about where you were at with them openly? Or was that still something-
Vicki: They were young, so-
Vicki: I mean, they knew we were separated.
Vicki: They, they asked questions. Um, but when Jesus Christ came into me and into our home, they followed suit. They both wanted that relationship as little children.
Vicki: And I remember with Courtney at age… I think she was four or five… asking on the way… I picked her up from school one afternoon. We were walking home. And she said, “Mommy, I want Jesus in my heart.” And we would, the three of us, would go to church every Sunday. They would see me standing there with just tears streaming down my face, praising and praying.
Vicki: And that’s what they wanted. And, and they both have a strong faith today. They married strong believers. They’re raising our four grandchildren in the Lord.
Vicki: This is, these are miracles. These are things that God has done, not that we did at all. But I just, as I was thinking about this, the, the verse that comes to my mind is back in Malachi where it says that God hates divorce. He talks about wanting marriage, in that passage, to stay for Godly offspring.
Vicki: And I just see how God has made that happen in our family.
Jim: Well talk about, uh, again, that reuniting and how God brought that together. Um, y- how did you… What was the phone call like? Did you talk by phone and say, “Bill, let’s make it happen”?
Vicki: No. So, after I came to know the Lord, I started reading my Bible at lunch at work. And one day I read Matthew Chapter Six. “Do not worry about what you’ll eat or what you’ll wear. See how the lilies of the field are clothed,” and so on. And it ended up with “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness.” And I thought, “Wow. Here I am at work every day. I wonder how much I’m really taking home and how, you know, how much it costs me to go to work: the nanny, the-”
Vicki: And I, it’s the first time I’d ever had that thought. Like I just was always driven, like I have to work. I have to do this. I have to do that. And so, I wrote out a list of what it cost me to go to work: clothes, subway fare, you know, blah, blah, blah. And then I, I subtracted it and there wasn’t that much.
Vicki: And I, I was shocked. And I thought, “This passage is telling me to seek first God’s kingdom and I’m not even home to raise my children to seek first God’s kingdom. A nanny is who doesn’t even believe what I believe.” And so, I just prayed. I looked out my window and I thought, “How am I going to keep doing this, selling ugly dresses, you know, making ugly dresses to sell to people who, you know, don’t even care.” And, um-
Vicki: I, I was offered a job at the Bible study, where the Bible study was. And I asked them how much they would pay, and they said, you know, minimum wage. I think it was five dollars an hour back then. And I was making a corporate salary. But God had so changed my heart and to keep the l- to make a long story short, I accepted the job and left my job at Macy’s and started working part-time at the ministry where the Bible study was held so that I could be home full-time with the kids.
Vicki: I worked just during their school hours.
Vicki: So, I was now working for the ministry that had held the dinner party and I started inviting Billy to these dinners.
Vicki: And so, th- it was three years from the time I prayed to receive Christ ’til the time he did at one of these dinners.
Jim: Wow. That says a lot about your, uh, resilience because, uh, in that kind of circumstance, a lot of spouses might give up. Three years is a long time to hope.
Vicki: Well I’m so glad… Well by… We were separated right at four-and-a-half years at that point.
Vicki: So, I’m glad you brought that up because we’ve done a lot of counseling. And I know you talked about that at the very beginning of our first day. And that’s really what has helped us so much, w- wade through so many of our issues.
Jim: Huh. Let me ask you this question. Um, when you look at marriage, you guys have been through the wringer. I mean, i- it’s so obvious. Um, why is marriage so important to you, now, as believers? Why is, is it important for the culture to see marriage in a different way? Not like you’re changing dresses, as you would say, Vicki. Uh, w- why is marriage important?
Vicki: Marriage is meant to be a picture of Christ and the church, his bride. To the covenant that God has. And so, when Christian marriages end, and the covenant is broken-
Bill: Satan wins.
Vicki: Satan wins.
Bill: Satan wins.
Jim: Ah. And it’s important to do everything you can do.
Vicki: To do… And also, the other very important part of that is that if, in a marriage, each of us turns to God, God can change each of us.
Vicki: God can work through the most difficult of circumstances, which he did in us. He brought about forgiveness in my heart. God did. So, when I needed to forgive and ask Billy for forgiveness for the things I had done, I started to pray long before Billy came home, that God would work that out in my heart, forgiveness. Because it’s a supernatural act, forgiveness. It has to, I had to be willing to forgive but God had to make that happen in my heart and continues to in our marriage.
Vicki: For both of us.
Bill: I even asked our k- our kids to forgive me for, for what, you know, we put them through.
Jim: Oh, yeah. That had to be a, a special moment for you, though, as a father to say that. How did they respond?
Bill: They, they forgave.
Vicki: They were so thrilled. This was their prayer, for us to be together. They used to say throughout the three years, “If Daddy comes to know Jesus, will he come home? Will we be back together as a family?”
Vicki: And my response was always, “We don’t know. Our hope is in the Lord.” And I love what Francis and Lisa Chan said. “Marriage is great and is, is meant to be a picture of Christ and his church. But Jesus is the thing. Marriage is not the thing.”
Vicki: So, for us, we still have so many issues and we still work through those. But Jesus is who we strive towards.
Bill: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Vicki: To be more like him f- for a lost world to know him. And-
Jim: Well, it’s well said, and everything flows from that.
Jim: As you now know.
Jim: Uh, Bill, I did not hear, though, that day, that moment where you said, “Jesus, come into my life.”
Bill: It was at, it was at a Christmas dinner that, um, at the DeMoss house as well. And I heard a story that night that really touched my heart. And that’s when I checked the box, that I prayed to receive Christ. And, um, there was one thing I still had to take care of because I was still addicted to coke.
Bill: Um, about three months later, I checked myself into a rehab. And I remember starting to go through the horrendous withdrawals that had always prevented me from stopping. And I got down on my knees and started praying to a God I had just accepted three months earlier. And the best way I can describe it is like it was an out of body experience. I knew immediately the withdrawal symptoms were lifted.
Bill: A- o- and, and that I was, I was free. And, um, I mean, since then I never had a desire to do coke.
Jim: Isn’t that something? He just took that away from you.
Jim: Right then.
Jim: And that’s a powerful testimony.
Bill: I mean, it, it’s a tough drug and it is, it is very tough to get off, So, it was, I mean, that was truly a miracle.
John: Well, we’re, uh, obviously at a very emotional moment here for, for you, Bill, and I, I know there are people that are tuning in and they’re identifying with the pain that you experienced, perhaps not through a cocaine addiction and a separation, and, and so many obvious mistakes in your life. But, uh, here at Focus on the Family we want to be there for you if you’re struggling and we’re a phone call away. Our number is 800, the letter A and the word FAMILY. 800-232-6459. And, uh, Bill and Vicki Rose are our guests today on Focus And, um, Vicki’s book is Every Reason to Leave and Why We Chose to Stay Together. Uh, it’s a God story of restoration and redemption. Uh, Bill, I think it, it’d be best to be honest, though, that while God took that cocaine addiction away, there were still a lot of hard steps in front of you, right? I mean, d- your life didn’t suddenly become all rosy and wonderful.
Bill: No, there, there were, um, you know, there were many adjustments. Um, we had two people that were living separately that had to put our lives back together again.
Jim: When did he put that desire in your heart to consider that?
Bill: Well, I had considered it sort of immediately afterwards, but I was living with one foot in each world. Um, I was dating Vicki and I was still dating other people. And there was a friend of ours, B. J. Webber, basically who one afternoon said, uh, you know, “It’s time for you to make a decision.” So that’s when I, I moved back in. I think my mom died in December of ’91 and, um, I told Vicki a few days later I was coming back.
Bill: And our son, who was… How old was Doug, 10 at the time?
Vicki: Nine. He was nine.
Bill: R- Wrote a paper for school, Best Day Ever, and it was that he had come home and seen Daddy’s suitcases in the hallway. Um, and so, you know, it’s been a struggle. It’s been not a struggle. We’ve had good times. We’ve had, you know, tough times. Um, this last year has been a big battle but we are persevering through it. And um, we continue to work. Uh, marriage is a, is a continuous effort to really make it work.
Bill: But it’s worth it. I mean, it is so worth it.
Jim: Yeah. And, and the culture needs to hear that. I mean, that’s one of the biggest, uh, difficulties. People think that they can simply make a quick decision, uh, try on a new coat, meaning a new spouse and things will get better. But typically, that’s not what happens.
Bill: Well, typically, they make the same mistakes-
Jim: Same mistakes.
Bill: With the new spouse and it just happens. It’s just, it’s just history repeating itself.
Jim: That’s exactly right.
Vicki: But we each take ourselves into the, into the next relationship.
Vicki: Or into any other relationship. And I, one of the keys in, in a healthy good marriage is each person has to keep growing.
Vicki: And growing in Christ.
Jim: When you look back now, after almost 40 years of being married, and all these ups and downs, again, a tragic story, a beautiful story. I think when I hear your story, the thing that I’m so impressed with is your children, to be honest with you.
Jim: I mean, they caught some things in those lessons that are impressive. The fact that they married strong believers and that they were committed to you, Bill, as their dad. That is made such an impact that when your suitcases came and they saw them, they knew their prayers had been answered. Uh, your kids are quite a story in here too.
Vicki: We are so grateful. Every morning, Billy leads us in prayer before we go about our day.
Vicki: And every morning we thank God for our kids.
Bill: Our kids and our grand-
Vicki: And our four grandchildren.
Bill: And grandkids.
Vicki: They’re so much fun.
Jim: All that happiness spewing out, I see.
Bill: I mean, I mean we had two, our two children and the kids they married, I mean, they all four waited for marriage.
Bill: Which in this day and age is, you know, unheard of.
Jim: So, it’s amazing, again, that the Lord took the, I mean, the ashes of what you guys lived and really restored them in your children’s lives.
Vicki: And that’s the key, is God did it.
Vicki: People say, “What did you do with your children?” And I said, “You know, it’s in spite of what we did.”
Vicki: That God brought them to himself and, and gave them such a love for himself.
Vicki: Uh, we were very honest with them. We didn’t try to pretend everything was fine. I remember Billy telling them one day, that he wished we had waited for marriage.
Vicki: You know, that that was something we both regretted. So, we were very honest with our children about the mistakes we’d made, the things we wish we had done differently. That it was God that was, you know, the glue, right, in our, in our relationship. Not anything about us, but all God. Really-
Vicki: It’s all God.
Jim: Uh, when you look at marriage and the importance of it, as you described, it’s an image of Christ. Um, but Christ is the core. I love the way you just said that. Um, w- when I look at it, it is very simple. It feels like, to me, that marriage is about learning to be more like him. And there’s no other relationship quite like marriage to do that.
Jim: Because what you learn is you have to give of yourself. You have to become more selfless.
Jim: And that is a picture of Christ. That’s what he’s done for us. That’s what he did 2,000 years ago, was to give himself for us. And that, to me, is the core of marriage. And it’s what makes it so difficult because our human nature wants to be focused on us and me.
Jim: And what the Lord is saying, I think, with marriage, is, “Learn to be more like me by laying your life down for your mate.” And it’s hard to do when you don’t like your spouse. Isn’t it?
Vicki: It is. Every day, it’s a choice. Every day I have a choice to make to be patient and kind. To let no unwholesome talk come out of my mouth. Every day, I choose to ask Christ how to be more like Him in our relationship.
Vicki: It doesn’t come naturally to me. I don’t know if it does to other people but-
Jim: Uh, no, I don’t think it does.
Vicki: I don’t think it does. And it’s, it is a choice every morning. Every morning I have to spend a long time with the Lord to get myself off the throne.
Vicki: And put God, you know, and, and rem- and I say out loud in my quiet time, “God, you are God. I am not. I am your servant and empty me of me today.”
Vicki: “Fill me with you so that I can be kind and patient and compassionate and all the other things that I’m not.”
Jim: If you two were doing marriage counseling, let’s say right from this recording. You’re going to go to the Focus on the Family Counseling Department here. And you’re going to get on the phones and you’re going to take calls from people. When that young couple called who says, you know, “We’ve just been married a year. We’re having all these difficulties.” What would you say to them?
Vicki: Well, the first thing I’d say is “I’m not a counselor.” (laughs) I’m just a married person.
Vicki: But for me, the most important, first important thing in a marriage is for each person to seek first His kingdom and His righteousness.
Vicki: To seek God first. Because if each of us is doing that, then we’re going to be forgiving. We’re going to be compassionate and kind, patient, less selfish.
John: Bill and Vicki Rose have been our guests today on Focus on the Family. And I’m sure this powerful conversation has helped many many couples, uh, perhaps even you. You might be in a difficult spot. Uh, you might’ve related to some of what they shared. We do have caring Christian counselors here on staff and as a starting point, you can request a consultation with those counselors when you give us a call.
Jim: And if you, uh, don’t know the Lord, uh, we invite you to begin a relationship with Jesus Christ as the foundation for the rest of your life. And we’d love to introduce you to him in that way. I also want to emphasize our ministry for couples called Hope Restored. If you’re headed for divorce or you’re heading for separation, this is the place to go. Call us and get more information and details on what you can do to go to that intensive counseling experience for a few days and really get your marriage on the right track. Uh, we have several locations. And, uh, it, it really is a silver bullet, 81% success rate, after two years, those marriages, we go back and survey. They’re doing, 81% are doing better and that’s wonderful news, and still married. Uh, I hope you’ll support the ministry here at Focus on the Family. Uh, maybe you’ve been encouraged by the work that we do. Maybe your marriage has been saved because of God’s work through Focus. Uh, please consider joining us to save other marriages and do the other many things that this ministry is about.
John: I do hope you’ll join us, uh, if you can, with a monthly gift today. Uh, when you donate any amount, we’ll send you Vicki’s book, Every Reason to Leave and Why We Chose to Stay Together. That’ll inspire you and give you some new perspectives on what really matters. It might be for yourself or someone you know that is struggling. Ask for that book when you get in touch. And if you’re only able to make a one-time gift right now, we understand. And we’ll still be happy to send that book to you. Either way, monthly or a one-time gift, call today and donate as you can, 800, the letter A and the word FAMILY, 800-232-6459 or at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast. On behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team, thanks for joining us today for Focus on the Family. I’m John Fuller inviting you back next time as we, once again, help you and your family thrive in Christ.