The Fifth Wheel Worship Centre – Tony & Mina Gunter   

Friday, August 31st, 2018

Are you a Proverbs 31 Girl?

Here’s what can happen when a mature truck-loving couple collide on an online dating website.

First the collision, then the smash repairs, followed by some panel-beating then a paint job in that order, before drivers, Tony and Mina Gunter, parked their rigs, settled on the same number plate, jumped in the cab, to drive away together and live happily ever after.

End of story? No. Just the start of a God ordained relationship coupled up with a God-given vision.

Tony’s from Brisbane, Mina’s from South Carolina, and both have the vision for ministering to truck drivers in the USA.

But first, we reverse the pick up back to where the Tony and Mina story parked awhile when their relationship was just moving in first gear on a single-lane road into an  uncharted pot-holed territory.

Mina and Tony’s online tango 

Initially Tony’s visual of the road up ahead was limited to a steep descent followed by a roadblock.

“I’d put in my profile that if you’re going to tell me you’re a Proverbs 31 girl, you’d better tell me you’re a Song of Solomon’s girl because Proverbs 31 leaves out a lot of stuff about marriage.”

Tony interprets Prov. 31 as a list of potentiality in three areas of a woman’s life.

There are some people who think you can find all of that in one woman. I said you’d need 9 day weeks and 36 hour days!

It just so happened that at the time of writing, Mina had a clear view of the road ahead according to her GPS. After all she just happened to be teaching a class on Proverbs 31!

“She sent me a message that basically said I didn’t know what I was talking about in a polite southern way.” (Mina’s a southern belle and Tony’s a true blue ,dinky di Aussie.)

“I wrote back and said, ‘Thanks for writing. You’re entitled to your wrong opinion, have a nice life.”

‘Have a nice life’

“Then she wrote back in that polite southern way again and told me I was an egotistical whatever, and I wrote back and said, you’ve misunderstood. You’ve misinterpreted ego for confidence.”

“I said I know who I am, where I’m going and what I believe. And I said you’ve missed. My life statement of worth once trickled down a cross and touched the ground.”

So once again, thanks for writing, have a nice life.

But Mina was in for the long haul and wrote back to Tony asking him if they could keep emailing. That got Tony thinking.

“And I thought what for, I haven’t got a persecution complex?”

Mina had been captivated by Tony’s statement about his worth that referred to the blood of Christ trickling down a cross and touching the ground.

“That’s when I fell in love with him. Right then. And I knew that God had called this man to be in my life and vice versa.”

You can’t be somebody’s ‘yes man’

Tony had met his match and began to realise that Mina was just as much a straight-shooter as he was.

“If there was something that he said that I didn’t agree with, I always made sure I let him know what my opinion was and he did the same,” Mina said.

I think that’s so important because you just can’t be somebody’s yes man because that’s not even true life.

Almost a year went by with the two talking to one another before Tony decided to head to the States to meet Mina.

“I went over in October 2003 and we married 12 days later.”

As Mina explained the pair had been talking to each other and both their families.

“We laid our cards on the table. There was nothing we didn’t talk about,” was how Tony described it.

The Lone Ranger’s girlfriend

“And we’d decided to meet in a place where we had mutual friends. I had a place to stay and he had a place to stay and we could meet. I knew it was going to work out but he hadn’t figured it out yet,” Mina said.

“She said she fell in love, and I walked in really slowly.”

“And that’s the way it was!” Mina stated. Tony goes back to his profile, his declaration of independence you might say and reads what’s written in his terms and conditions.

Mina and Tony Gunter

“If you’re looking for the white picket fence I’m not interested. I’m looking for the Lone Ranger’s girlfriend.”

So Tony and Mina were married by a pastor in Nashville, Tennessee with whom Tony had built a relationship with on previous visits to America.

Another big ticket item for Mina’s credentials in the wife-for-Tony stakes was not only her love for Jesus, but a close second may have been her love for pick-up trucks.

Nowadays the pair are an international family with four children between them and a grandchildren tally of five.

‘I’ve chosen you’

As for the US truck drivers’ ministry vision, that had its beginnings in 1990 some months after Tony Gunter had left the police force in Western Australia.

Tony was studying God’s word on motivation of the heart that included a reference to the Book of Chronicles where David was passing on to Solomon the plans for the temple.

“For I’ve chosen you to build a temple as a sanctuary.” Tony quoted.

It was like God spoke those words to me and I had absolutely no idea what He was talking about.

What followed that word of God for Tony was ten years of silence. Nothing.

“Each year I’d go back and say, ‘Do You want to tell me now? Because I’ve got no idea what You’re talking about.”

It was during the 11th year things began to unfold. Ideas of a mobile ministry with a semi-trailer and Tony began thinking there could be some Christian truck drivers who might be interested.

A truck-stop chapel

“It snow-balled on from there and over the next ten years it was as though God unfolded the vision.”

Tony likened his vision to Joseph’s dream – a dream about fat cows and skinny cows.

“Who would ever have equated that to who Joseph finally ended up as, prime minister of Egypt.”

“Who would ever have equated what God spoke to me – building a major ministry to the road transport industry in America.”

After he and Mina had been married Tony spent the first five years in the states as a chaplain for Transport for Christ as a volunteer at a truck-stop chapel before he received his green card. Mina was nursing during that period.

It should be mentioned that Tony Gunter is a bush-poet whose poems that go back to the 70s, have lead many hundreds of people to Christ.

Mina spoke of one of Tony’s poems that has taken on a life of its own. It’s become a national icon  and a legacy of Tony’s love for his home country.

“To the Sunburnt Ear’ is a tribute to the Australian soldier. That’s the one that’s played across the country on ANZAC Day.”

“Then there’s the ‘Thankyou’ that comes before the poem. That brought Tony together with the president of the Currumbin RSL who’d been playing the poem for years before meeting Tony.”

Onto the big vision that’s driving Tony and Mina toward their destiny with the Lord.

“We have a ministry to long distance truck drivers called ‘Faith Freighters’ and our big vision from that is to build ‘The Fifth Wheel Worship Centre.’”

Nehemiah was a cup-bearer

“It will be a truckers church, it will be a full service 24/7 truck stop and God willing, if the creek don’t rise, it will be built just outside of Nashville.”

Tony knows this is a huge undertaking and he’s had some heavy conversations about the project with God over the years. His gripe with God was often over the huge size of the construction.

God’s comeback to Tony’s complaints was to remind him about Nehemiah’s task of rebuilding the wall at Jerusalem when, unlike Tony, he wasn’t even a free man.

“Nehemiah was a cup-bearer, a test pilot for bad booze,” as Tony likes to say.

Already Tony has tried a number of times to get it up and running. No joy, so back to God Tony has gone.

‘It took us by surprise’

I’ve said to God, ‘When You’re ready, You’ll let me know.”

Three months ago God let Tony know the time had arrived.

“Things have started to move so fast and we think we’ll be back in the US chasing this dream before the end of the year.”

It’s just come about in such a way it took us by surprise.

Mina said it’s almost like we’ve come to this intersection and God is standing right in the middle of the intersection directing the traffic, saying ok.

“This is the direction you go. These are the people you’ll see. And when we turn and we do that, it has become very fruitful.”

Footnote

To hear Tony Gunter’s Anzac poem – ‘To The Sunburnt Ear’ – click on https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W6BWUBeCkbU

 

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