I have always been a proponent of the old adage that says, “Behind every man is a good woman.” Er, is that, “Behind every good man is a woman?” Well, whatever way you wish to say it, I believe there is much truth in it. Today has been such a blessing because I got to ‘talk’ with a woman who falls into that category. But Charo wasn’t always ‘good’, at least not in the sense many Christians understand. Charo has a profound testimony—one that truly has touched my heart and the hearts of many around the world.
Join me in my conversation with Rosario ‘Charo’ Washer as she discusses her life as wife of the prominent, itinerant preacher, Paul David Washer. She shares with us what life has been like since her actual conversion. She lets us in on personal feelings about what people get wrong about her husband, how she handles criticism of her husband, how she keeps home-life normal for the family, her joy in photography and hobbies, and what’s coming up in 2014.
Charo, I’ve read that you spent much of your youth in Peru. Were you born there? Can you share a bit about your family?
“I was born in Lima, Peru but I have also lived in Spain, Bolivia, and Paraguay and of course here in the States. My father is Spanish and my mother is Peruvian. They both currently live in Peru. I am the oldest of four sisters; two live here in the States and one in Italy. We are scattered all over the place!”
I’ve read through your testimony and I don’t think I’ve ever heard someone express an almost ‘testimony within a testimony’ as you have. Since that time when you spoke so openly about your actual conversion and the difficulties leading up to it, did your husband, Paul, encounter any backlash as you feared he might?
“I am not aware of any backlash. Most Christians I know rejoiced in what God had done in my life, I have personally not heard anything negative.”
What kind of response did you, the wife of a prominent evangelical missionary and teacher, experience when you made people aware of your conversion? Was it generally a positive experience or were there difficulties?
“A couple of very close friends had some trouble wrapping their mind around the idea at first. We had worked together for years. They had seen me work with street children in Lima, with believers in the Andes and with the church in Barranco. Because of this, it was difficult for them to comprehend, but they came to see that it was not just the “outward” works but the inner testimony of my life that counted. Before my conversion, I was simply doing empty works, living on auto pilot, and “doing the right thing.” I am very duty oriented so I was going to keep doing what was right no matter what. But there was no love for God in me, only a sense of duty. However, by God’s mercy He allowed me to run out of every ounce of strength. He showed me my sin and need for Him.”
Do you feel that your experience, as expressed in your testimony, is one that God is using to help those going through a similar experience? Is there any story you could share that emphasizes that point?
“I have received emails and cards from people letting me know that my testimony was instrumental in them coming to know the Lord. That is always a great encouragement and a blessing to me because everything has been a work of God. Having been lost, I became the recipient of his grace and mercy and in sharing about this, He in turn reaches out again and saves another soul. It is pretty amazing and all to His glory! It is especially moving when some of these testimonies have come from people who like me, were involved in ministry for years before truly becoming converted.”
It’s been several years now that you’ve been in the United States. Did you overcome that feeling of misplacement? Do you still miss Peru?
“I don’t think I ever had any feeling of displacement to be honest. Maybe it is because I knew the language before I came to the States to go to college therefore I was able to forge great friendships from the beginning and feel at home. I do miss Peru though; I would go back there as a full time missionary in a heartbeat!”
So how long have you been married now? You have children, yes?
“Paul and I have been married 21 years and we have three children; Ian (almost 13), Evan 10, and Rowan (almost 7).”
Your husband, Paul, has become such an in-demand speaker and teacher? Was this a daunting experience for you?
“It was not daunting at all. I had always had the feeling that the Lord would use him in the way He does. It is a blessing to be a part of the ministry the Lord has entrusted him with. Most of all it is a blessing to know there are so many dear brothers and sisters who faithfully pray for him here at HeartCry and all over the world as he ministers.”
With notoriety comes criticism. One can’t help but Google Paul Washer or look him up on YouTube without seeing many positive, and negative, comments. How have you reacted to criticism from people who don’t even know Paul personally?
“Honestly I do not think too much about it either way. The good things are encouraging and are a blessing; the bad things, I honestly do not dwell on them at all. I would also be worried if all people had to say about Paul was wonderful and full of praise all the time. I think it would certainly mean that he is compromising somehow in something. You cannot please everyone all the time. He, like many other men know that if you faithfully preach the Gospel you will be criticized and even vilified but that is only natural and to be expected. The job of a preacher’s wife is to encourage her husband to faithfully press on regardless of the cost.”
What do you and Paul do in your home life to keep things as ‘normal’ as possible for your family given all the attention and popularity? Are your children aware of Paul’s name recognition? I guess I’m asking if they ever experience being out and someone coming up to them and their father saying, “Wow, it’s Paul Washer! Hey Brother Paul, can I get an autograph?”
“Our life is completely normal in every aspect. Our children are aware that their father preaches to people in various places but don’t see any “celebrity” status involved in it. People are kind and attentive but not overly so as if Paul were a movie star or anything like that so there is none of that environment around them. Our children have been there when he has preached to very large crowds and when he has preached to a handful of people so it really makes no difference to them. Being the oldest, Ian gets to travel with Paul more so than the younger ones. He enjoys being with his dad and is very comfortable being around people; all our children are.”
As the wife of Paul Washer, you would know best … what is the one thing about Paul that most people don’t know or they simply get wrong?
“That it is easy for him or that he enjoys preaching a hard message to Christians or unbelievers. It is a hard thing to have to tell someone the truth and it is not enjoyable to hurt them in the process in order to open their eyes. It certainly does not make you many friends most of the time! Paul dislikes controversy and conflict. He does not preach hard because he wants to get an argument started or to get anyone stirred up for the sake of having the last word. He simply tries to faithfully preach the word of God in order that someone may come to know Christ or that a believer would be encouraged in their faith.”
Too often, Christians put wives of pastors/teachers/speakers in the stereotypical role of teacher and speaker themselves. You spoke of this being uncomfortable for you prior to your conversion. Has that changed now? Do you find opportunities to speak and teach in areas that you now enjoy?
“That feeling has definitely changed being that I am now converted. As far as teaching, I only teach as doors open and when I travel with Paul. I don’t have a “teaching ministry” of my own. I have taken a few invitations here and there but they are harder to work into our schedule due to Paul’s traveling and preaching schedule. Also, with the kid’s homeschooling and other activities there is not much time for anything else.”
HeartCry Missionary Society is a wonderful organization. Do you have a specific role there?
“Since I am a photographer I am currently involved in volunteering at the photography department at HeartCry doing editing and the archiving of pictures for the coordinator reports, the blog or the magazine. Recently, I started learning a bit about video in order to step in as a “back up” film person when necessary.”
Your photography is wonderful. I understand you also like cooking, and reading. I’d like to know a bit more about the type of photography you like most (i.e. landscape, architecture, subjects, etc.). Also, can you share your favorite reading genre? What’s your favorite type of food to cook?
“I enjoy photographing people in natural situations; I am not good at posing people, it stresses me out a bit when they are not comfortable in front of the camera. I like landscape, journalistic, architectural and food photography the most. Lately I am playing around a bit doing some night photography or “light painting” which is a lot of fun.
As far as reading I love a bit of a jumble of things; Elizabeth Gaskell, Jane Austen, Emily Bronte and so many other great English period classics and poetry. I also enjoy reading about the history of civilizations, historical biographies, Christian biographies and Biblical counseling books. Biblical counseling was one of my minors in college and I hope at some point to become a certified Biblical counselor so I read Nouthetic counseling books whenever I get a chance.
I enjoy cooking in general; there is not one specific food I enjoy cooking more than others. I am more of an instinctive cook than one that goes by a recipe unless I am baking. Having had a chance to try so many diverse foods and most of them so wonderful, I could not possibly chose one! My top favorites would probably be Peruvian food, Spanish, Sushi and pretty much any and all sea food.”
Finally, Charo, can you share with us some of your plans coming up in 2014?
“I am looking forward to working on our yard and house! We moved in October and had no time to deal with a lot of things around the house so it will be a nice thing to just get those loses ends tied. Besides that, the schedule at HC is always developing but so far; I have some trips scheduled to video and photograph Paul teaching in CA and one conference to teach with him in Italy in June of this year.”
I want to take this opportunity to thank Charo for taking time out of her busy schedule to address my questions. It has been such a joy to get to know Charo better through this interview. I hope that it is an encouragement to my readers for it certainly has encouraged me! Thank you, Chrao, and may God continue to bless you and your family abundantly. He is so good!