– Gloria Welton interviews Keith and Doris MacDougall who celebrate 70 years of marriage.
They met in 1943 and were married four years later, the beginning of 70 years as husband and wife. Although they both grew up in West Prince, they didn’t know each other until Keith MacDougall, from Springfield, asked his cousin to introduce him to Doris MacPherson, who was from Dunblane, PEI.
Keith admits that if they hadn’t gotten saved early on in their marriage they may not have lasted together for 70 years. “The Lord has everything to do with the things that go right today,” says Doris.
One of Keith’s favorite Scriptures is II Corinthians 5:17: “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” Another one is John 14:6: “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes to the Father but by Me.” He also mentioned John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life;” and Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
“I had to stand on these verses many times because of being challenged about my beliefs,” says Keith. “Also, I love to hear the gospel message that offers love, hope, and an eternity with our Saviour.”
As they sat together talking about their many years of marriage, they held their Bibles, which showed years of usage and were full of their markings. Doris says that you can’t go wrong with the King James Version. She also loves her Bible dictionary, which helps her understand the passages she faithfully reads morning and evening.
Doris says there are so many Scripture verses that are dear to her that it’s hard to pick a few favorites. However, II Timothy 1:12b came to her mind: “I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day;” and Galatians 2: 20: “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” She says she repeats these two verses in particular to herself time and time again.
Keith and Doris’ early life together
Keith and Doris attended different secondary schools, and later Doris left for university, so they never met. Doris was Presbyterian, while Keith attended a United Church.
Keith’s cousin Ken was going out with a friend of Doris, so Keith told his cousin he wanted to meet her. The two couples became friends, and the other couple, whom Doris describes as strong Christians, also married. Ken has since gone to be with the Lord.
Before Keith and Doris married he was enlisted in the army during World War II. During a year of that time Doris lived in Toronto. “I decided to go and stay with relatives while I worked in the office at Eaton’s,” says Doris. “It was a difficult time but we stayed in touch by faithfully writing letters to each other.”
Keith’s trade in the army was the maintenance of combat tankers, trucks, and heavy equipment. He went overseas, and he knows now that it was God who kept him safe. “A lot of boys did not come back,” Keith says. “They were just school-aged and never had a chance to live their lives.” “A lot of our friends we grew up with did not come back,” Doris adds.
“The Bible Society gave all the enlisted a pocket Bible, but I didn’t read it,” Keith admits. “I wasn’t interested back then.” He still has one of the missile ends, the point, which is very heavy and measures the length of his hand. As he held it he said, “Looking back I can see how God used this time in my life as part of the process to bring me to the foot of the cross.”
Two years after the war, they were married, and were later blessed with three children: Paulette, Kevin, and Colleen.
Their story of how the Lord saved both of them on June 28, 1958
When their children were young the family was attending the United Church. “The minister had left and we had a layman by the name of Heber Harding, and he was a saved man,” says Keith. “He came from Elmsdale, and this part of the Island was well known for evangelism at that time.”
“Heber put forth the idea of having evangelistic meetings in the United Church, and I wasn’t for it at all,” admits Keith. “There were only a few in the church that supported the idea, and they had strong influence. At the very same time, the Gospel Hall and the Church of the Nazarene were heavily evangelizing that end of the Island. I can see now that the Spirit was moving within the district.”
So Frank Roebuck came from New Brunswick and began preaching the gospel in the United Church. “He would lay out the gospel every night, and peopled were getting really excited,” Keith remembers. “The Church was filling up each night, with the parking lot full.
“I didn’t want to attend the meetings but Doris did, and I wanted to go for her sake. Our family was young so we would take turn about each night. Some in the church were praying for me. They were praying for me to be saved and they prayed that I wouldn’t be able to sleep until it took place. I would get home after the meetings and I couldn’t sleep. I would toss and turn every night.
“He was preaching hard every night,” Keith says. “Then one night we were there together, and Doris wanted to go forward when the alter call was given.” “Keith held me back a bit,” recalls Doris, “but then he came.”
“I was a little hesitant but Doris had her mind made up. During that service there were about 80 to 90 people who made a profession of faith; can you imagine that? For that number to be saved in one community, it just shows, although we had never heard the gospel before, we were all hungry.
“The preacher came back again the next year and I don’t think I truly was ready to give up my old life until then. I was worried that I was going to lose all my friends,” says Keith. “Those friends ended up leaving us because we didn’t want to be in the places they were. Then all the converts left the United Church.”
However, Keith and Doris stayed for a few more years. “When we were still in the United Church as young Christians they asked me to be the Superintendent and lead the Bible Study, and Doris to teach Sunday School. At that point I didn’t even know John 3:16 and it forced me to study the Bible, and dig in and read my Bible faithfully.”
Later they also decided it was time to leave and seek out another church where they could be provided the spiritual food they needed. They started attending the Baptist Church in Springfield, which was on the corner of their farm property.
“We started going, and it was wonderful,” says Doris. “Max Nesbit and his wife were the ministry leadership in the church. He was preaching the gospel and there were great singers, and a lot of young people were going. It was just what we wanted.” Keith became a deacon and Doris was teaching Sunday school and leading a Pioneer Club.
The Lord’s ongoing work in their lives
Sharing the gospel became a very important part of Keith and Doris’ lives. “We were also involved in the Gideons International of Canada for a lot of years, and we still support them,” says Keith.
“A travelling salesman named Owen MacRae was on fire for the Lord. He would come to my place and we would play music.” “Keith comes from a musical family, “says Doris. “His father was a wonderful bass singer.” “Owen thought we should start a Gideon camp in the community,” recalls Keith. “I called a lot of Christians I knew and we met and organized a camp, and we joined up with the Gideon group from Summerside.”
Keith says that at that time the main emphasis for the Gideon work was to put the Bible in all the schools, and give them out to Grade Five students. “We would go to all the classrooms and have a little talk about Jesus and pass out the Bibles to the students. The kids loved to get the Bibles. Also, Bibles were delivered to motels, hotels, and hospitals.”
Both Keith and Doris had Christian parents. “I had the gospel message within me from my upbringing but I had to make that decision,” says Doris. “I knew He was with me all those years. I had a hope and enjoyed being in Christian settings, such as youth group and Sunday School.”
Keith also was brought up in church but admits that he strayed badly. “I never read the Bible growing up because my mind was always someplace else. But once we get saved everything changes. The Bible becomes an important part of your life, and becoming familiar with Scripture. You start to realize the power of the Holy Spirit. When we became Christians we saw a big difference.”
Career and family
Doris started to teach in Green Hill in 1943 and taught until 1967 in three schools. “When I taught the first year the government paid me $650 dollars for a salary for a year. Back in the early days of teaching, each day we would say the Lord’s Prayer and then I remember the point in time when Satan closed the door to any biblical teaching in the school.” She also taught the GED program for 10 years at the Holland College site in O’Leary.
Keith’s Dad was a blacksmith and had a small farm. “When I came home from the war I bought a farm and Veterans Affairs Canada financed us. That’s how we got started, and then we were able to buy more farmland and potato warehouses.”
“In 1967, when I retired from teaching Keith formed a company, and I was the secretary/bookkeeper,” Doris recalls. Keith started first with a mixed farm, with about 300 acres, and later became an Elite seed potato grower.
“None of the family stayed at home to take over the farm,” says Keith. “Kevin went to Nova Scotia Agricultural College and now works at Dalhousie, Colleen has a Ph.D. in Psychology and has her own practice in Alberta, and Paulette is a teacher on the Island. Our children were all set with their careers. I was farming with hired help and decided it was time to sell.”
In 1983, they retired from farming but kept the house on the property and bought a cottage in Florida; they would go down there for the winters. “We had a lot of good years in Florida, and in the summers we still had the family home,” says Doris. In 2002, they sold the family home up west and moved to East Royalty.
“It will be 15 years this fall that we started to attend Faith Bible Church,” says Keith. “The only one we knew at Faith was Norman MacMillan. He was our neighbour up west.” They now feel very blessed to have a lot of friends. They also love being involved in the Lord’s work at this point in their lives by being a supportive part of the congregation, praying, encouraging others, and supporting the work financially.
Their advice for a strong marriage
Keith says that it is very important for both husband and wife to be believers—that is the key. Doris says the husband has to lead the family. “We were baptized when we came to the Baptist Church,” she says. “We both went down into the waters together.”
Keith: “Doris is good for me and I am good for her. We have our differences yet we complement each other. We are so thankful that we are together and that we are forever children of God.”
Doris: “There are many things we have to stand for as Christians, and we can stand by our faith. The Lord has always been faithful to show us a better way.”
They talked about how trials and difficulties can bring us closer to the Lord, and bring us to the place where we need to be spiritually.
What they are praying for
They both said they are praying everyday for their family. “Praying for our family is most important at this point in time for us,” says Doris. “Along with our three children and their spouses, we also have two grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.”
“We also pray for Pastor Jon and Marilyn and their family, and we pray for our friends and their families,” says Keith. “We pray for our country and the uprisings in war around the world.”
“The Bible says the time will come when a majority of the Church will abandon preaching the gospel and we are getting closer- II Thess 2:3,” says Doris. “We must stay close to Jesus. We all have trials and trouble to face but the Lord uses every bit of it and it takes so much prayer. We pray believing and trusting, and then we wait.”
They ended the interview by saying what a beautiful and wonderful family they have and how they are very proud of them all. “We have been blessed with a really good relationship with our family,” says Keith. “And they get along with each other.” Doris says she prays that when they leave this world they would have been a good example to their family.