I grew up in suburban Detroit, Michigan in an idyllic area called Bloomfield Hills. I was born to godly parents who had waited a long time to be given the gift of children. They loved my brother and me profoundly and raised us in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. They gave us a rich and rewarding childhood. My father was a deacon at Bloomfield Hills Baptist Church and we were basically there every time the doors were open. It was there that we made many wonderful friendships and were taught so many truths about the Lord that stay with me to this day. My mom stayed at home with us, for which I am so grateful, while my dad worked as an architect and engineer. We started vacationing in South Florida during my early teenage years. My dad had a chance to take early retirement so we relocated to Pompano Beach, Florida when I was in middle school. I was privileged to graduate from Westminster Academy in Fort Lauderdale, the school affiliated with Dr. D. James Kennedy and Coral Ridge Ministries. From there, I made the long seven hundred mile journey away from my loving home to attend Samford University in Birmingham, AL.
We would love to hear your conversion story—when and how did God reveal Jesus Christ to you?
What a blessing it was to be born into a family that held the precious truths of God’s word as the bedrock of life. I have never known a time in my life when I did not have the Lord’s hand upon me. I was prayed for before I was ever born and taught the wonders of God’s love before I could even express myself. After a week long Vacation Bible School meeting at our church in June of 1968, I felt compelled to respond to the invitation given by our pastor. I did not tell my parents that I was going to do this for fear of them telling me that I was not ready. In an unusually bold move for a very shy and compliant child, I clearly remember bolting down the aisle on the first note of the invitation because I was a sinner in need of a Savior and in my heart; I knew that He was calling me to Himself. I still get chills when I reflect on how good God is to have saved me as a child—before I had a chance to taste of worldly ways. I didn’t have to be a theologian to understand what was happening either. The gospel is so clear and plain! Our pastor welcomed me gladly and as I was being counseled by a Sunday School teacher, I suddenly noticed that about ten other children had come forward after I had done so. For a church with under 200 members, this was a revival. I later appeared before the board of deacons in what was the most harrowing moment of my life up until that point. My beaming father was seated in the circle among the deacons. I simply told them my story and was later baptized along with my brother.
Many testimonies contain black and white stories with twists, turns and great drama as in the case of the runaway teenage drug addict who is down and out in the gutter when God calls her out and turns her life around. Those of us who seem to have no drama to share might be tempted to feel that our stories are boring and uneventful. On the contrary! My story is about a young girl who was a shy, prudish little girl by the world’s standards and not considered to be guilty of anything major. The truth is that I was a sinner just as lost and unable to save myself as the worst criminal. How thankful I am that Jesus Christ saved me before I ever had to be taken through harrowing times and that my life has been blessing upon blessing ever since.
Mary, can you tell us how long you and Al have been married? How did you two meet?
We just celebrated our 24th anniversary this summer and are looking forward to our Silver Anniversary next year. Our families were members of First Baptist Church of Pompano Beach during our high school years but it was a large church and we didn’t know each other at all. My brother went to Samford University one year before I did and ended up meeting Al there as they recognized each other from church. They became roommates during my freshman year. Almost immediately, I started dating my brother’s roommate! Al graduated and headed north to Southern Seminary to start his master’s degree but I had three years of college left to complete. We had a long distance relationship up and down Interstate 65 for three years. We married just weeks after I graduated from Samford and he graduated from Southern. We began married life as he entered the PhD program while holding a rural church pastorate.
We know Al Mohler as the President of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, radio host, and author. Was Al always interested in Christian ministry or is his vocation somewhat of a surprise to both of you?
I guess I should start by saying what I have said elsewhere—-it’s interesting to be married to the most intelligent person that I have ever met. This is why CJ Mahaney and I have such a bond about discussing sports with Al. It is one topic on a very short list of things of which I can talk circles around him. He has no interest in sports whatsoever since he “can’t affect the outcome.” His insatiable intellectual curiosity on most everything else was apparently evident at an early age. He basically skipped the first two years of college by way of advanced placement and started his collegiate career as a political science major at a local state university. I think he was interested in politics, law and probably at least several other majors. The Lord called him into ministry during that year and everything changed. He transferred to Samford and that’s where I came on the scene. So, to answer the question, I have known since my first conversation with him that God was calling him into the ministry. That doesn’t mean that he doesn’t still have a strong interest in so many different areas, of course. However, sports are a lost cause so CJ and I have given up on that.
Did your background prepare you for your role as the wife of a seminary president? If so, how?
Since I majored in biology, minored in chemistry and considered a career in health sciences, the obvious answer is no! However, God used my years as a college student to teach me many things. I gained confidence in academics as I successfully competed with very bright pre-med majors. As the Lord made it clear that Al and I were to be together, I remained focused on my goal of a strong finish to my university career even as I was resolute in concentrating on the next step that God had for me in marriage. Al and I were always united on the plan that should the Lord bless us with children, as we intently prayed He would, I would be home with them full time. If that meant we had to make sacrifices, it would happen because we both believe that no one can care for our children like I can. All that to say, a major part of my role as a seminary president’s wife is to make sure that our home life is such that Al can do his job without dealing with chaos at home. I believe that Al is able to do the job that he does so well in part because I am at home and always have been. That’s true for any wife but with the added responsibilities that we face, it’s crucial. As for the “life in a fishbowl” aspects and the many events that we host in our home, we deal with those as they come and are happy to have had so many opportunities to meet such wonderful Christians. It is much easier to deal with now that our children are older but they will have many wonderful memories of the early events as well.