One of the aspects of our church that many of us value is our inter-generational congregation. Today we continue in our “Senior Moments” series with an interview with Ray & Jan Biggar. Through these interviews with seniors at NSCBC, we will see how God has sustained them, taught them, and used them. Sometimes they will share more personally and other times they will talk about how they’ve seen God work at NSCBC over the years. Perhaps you will be inspired by their faith and wisdom. Thank you to Marilyn Sweet for taking time with these seniors.
Ray and Jan Biggar began attending NSCBC (formerly Beverly Farms Baptist Church) shortly after their October 1957 wedding. They met at Gordon College shortly after the school moved to Wenham from Boston. Jan arrived at Gordon in the fall of 1955 and Ray arrived four months later. Following that school year Jan worked at New England Mutual Life Insurance, while Ray studied accounting and ended up working in financial management for many years.
How did you come to faith in Christ?
Since Jan’s father was a pastor’s son, he made certain his family of six children attended a solid Bible-preaching church. Through the influence of an early meeting held by Billy Graham and the leading of the Holy Spirit, eleven-year old Jan came home and gave her heart to Christ. Meanwhile, Ray was growing up in northern Maine, the middle child of seven. His father was a hired man on an area farm, and several neighbor farmers who were Christians made sure that he went to church. Ray gave his heart to Christ at age nine.
How long have you been at NSCBC?
After their 1957 marriage, Ray and Jan lived in Beverly Farms before moving to Manchester where they bought their first and present home in 1962. While living in Beverly Farms they began worshiping at the Baptist Church. They became members in 1960, a year after their first child, Lisa, was born; later, three sons were born. All four children grew up at NSCBC. The family has grown to include twelve grandchildren, a granddaughter-in-law & a grandson-in-law, and one great-grandchild. All are scattered across the U.S.
With serving hearts, the Biggars have been faithfully involved in many aspects of the church—much of it behind-the-scenes—through their nearly sixty years here: from cleaning and kitchen help to teaching Junior High Sunday School and Youth Group. They’ve together taught and cared for babies and toddlers and one or the other has served as Trustee, Deacon, and in the area of finance. For many years Ray sang in the church and coached church softball. Ray and Jan are both the kind of people who would do something they saw needed to be done! Jan remarked that serving has real benefits, allowing for and producing relationships lasting a lifetime.
Tell about a hard time in life and how the Lord carried you through.
An especially difficult time for Ray and Jan was the breakup of the marriage of their daughter. It necessitated that they rely fully on the Lord, which allowed tremendous growth in Jan’s faith as she had no choice but to trust Him. She is grateful for God’s care and protection during that time. Although this was not the kind of thing she would have desired, she knows God used it for His purposes, and He will continue to carry them through whatever lies ahead.
In your opinion, what is the best invention in your lifetime?
Although initially resistant to using a computer, Jan quickly responded, “the computer”, having seen the tremendous value it has had in the work of missions, and particularly for one woman in Bible translation work in Cameroon. She also appreciates the ease that the computer and email have made in communicating with friends and family.
How have you seen God at work at NSCBC through the years?
During their nearly sixty years at the church the Biggars have been under the ministry of eight pastors and know how differently the church and the North Shore might have been were it not for God’s hand in bringing Gordon College and Seminary to the area. His Church universal is evident here as well as around the world –– seeing God’s faithfulness through those who have gone out in missions. Jan felt the recent return of former pastor Rich Schoenert (to serve as Interim Pastor) was completing something of a circle, as they observed how the Holy Spirit had continued to grow him in the intervening years.
What excites you as you think about the future of NSCBC?
Ray and Jan are grateful the church has remained true to God’s Word; for God’s faithfulness; and to be a part of this fellowship. They are encouraged by new growth, both numerically and spiritually. They anticipate the Holy Spirit filling each of us, making us authentic believers in Christ, being who we should be and doing as God desires of us as we use our spiritual gifts. Jan recently envisioned our church as similar to the miles and miles of beautiful flowers in a field: being a body of believers in unity all praising God, deepening our faith and becoming a closer community as we love and care for one another and embrace those around us and those from different cultures.
As Ray and Jan are no longer able to do the many things they have done in service to help make NSCBC the church it is today, Jan acknowledged that these changes allow new and younger people to grow and honor God as they begin to use their gifts for His glory.
Thank you, Ray and Jan, for your many faithful years of service to us and to your Lord in this place!