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The Adventurers

Dana and Brian Cummings thrive on challenge—even apartheid South Africa


10th anniversary: December 30, 1998
Hometown: Omak, Washington
Children: Devon (6), Joel (4) and Hadassah (2)
Brian's occupation: Agricultural adviser, Colville Indian Reservation
Dana's occupation: Full-time wife and mom
MP readers: 1+ years

When Brian and Dana Cummings said "I do" in the middle of their senior year at Washington State University, they looked ahead to a future of ministry, adventure and fun. And they didn't have to wait long.

For their first adventure, they left their bags behind in the car in their rush to catch a ferry to Vancouver—and spent two days of their honeymoon without a change of clothes. ("Didn't bother me!" says Brian.)

The Cummingses first got to know each other in a Christian group in college. "Dana had a lot of class," says Brian. "She was a lot of fun to be with."

"He was fun, too," Dana agrees. "And I loved the way he loved the Lord and totally enjoyed living his life for God."

But friends and family were concerned about the prospect of them getting married. Brian comes from a small-town family of white, middle-class farmers, while Dana grew up in inner-city Los Angeles in a black family that struggled financially.

"It's one of our big achievements that we built a solid foundation in our marriage," Dana says, "because we've grown through the differences and made sure to focus on the things we shared—especially our love for Christ."

"Now our kids are getting the best of both backgrounds," Brian says.

Against the Law

After graduation, the Cummingses joined the Peace Corps. To their surprise, they were assigned to work in Lesotho, South Africa—a country that prohibited inter-racial marriage.

"There was some fear on our part," says Brian. "But the more we learned about the culture, the more comfortable we felt about traveling in South Africa."

"We did a lot of tenting in order to stay in the same place," Dana explains. "Usually either Brian could stay in a hotel and I couldn't, or I could and he couldn't. But we learned the languages, so we were able to communicate well enough to stay away from trouble situations and keep ourselves from any real harm."

Lesotho turned out to be a perfect place for them to put their education in agriculture and anthropology to work. And they grew closer, since they were the only other persons to whom they could speak in their own language. "Obviously, the silent treatment just didn't work," Brian says, laughing. "There were hard times in getting to know each other better, but it did dynamic things to help us grow in our marriage."

It was coming back to the States that began a difficult period—a different kind of adventure—for the Cummingses.

"We believed that God was calling us to live in New York," says Dana. "Then it turned out to be a bad move. Brian didn't get a job. We didn't have a place to live. I was pregnant with Devon."

After two years, the Cummingses moved back to Washington with their two sons. "Then I lost a child," Dana says. "That time in our lives was harder for me than living in apartheid South Africa."

The Next Great Adventure

These days Brian and Dana are thankful for their three children and their life in Washington. Brian enjoys his agricultural job with the adults and 4-H work with the children of the Colville Tribes Reservation, and Dana is putting her creativity and energies into rearing and home-schooling their kids. So what's their next adventure?

"Since the day we were married, we've had a dream to have our own farm," says Dana. "That way Brian could be with the family more."

"We'd have grass-fed beef and sheep and produce fruits, vegetables and meats," Brian explains. "The farm would be a part of the kids' education."

The Cummingses have found property they'd like to buy, so this dream could very well come true. Meanwhile, they're satisfied to keep doing what God has called them to do: raise their children to live for him.

"Our children are growing up to love the Lord," says Dana. "I think that's what we're here for."

Read more articles that highlight writing by Christian women at ChristianityToday.com/Women

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Commitment; Marriage; Relationships
Today's Christian Woman, Spring, 1998
Posted September 12, 2008

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