Build Your Life on a Foundation of Faith – Lee and Pat Wroten
In the 1930’s, Pahokee, FL was the “Winter Vegetable Capital of the World.” Situated to the south of Lake Okeechobee, the town rose (and fell) on the economical wave of agribusiness. “The Muck,” a rich soil produced by the partial draining of The Everglades, was black gold for a farmer, and many residents relied on the income of harvests, the needs of the laborers, or the railroad that carried Florida produce to northern markets day and night. Lee and Pat speak fondly of their hometown. Married when Pat was just 16 years old, they ran a grocery store and rented rooms to laborers. It was honest work. Lee worked hard to provide for their growing family. Then, they lost everything.
A tornado ripped through Pahokee in 1958 leaving life in shambles for many. Lee and Pat were amongst the unlucky. With a 6 yr. old son and a 3 yr. old daughter, they moved in with her parents and started from scratch. “You just did what you had to do,” Lee said. “We had a strong foundation in our faith. That’s carried us through a lot over the years.” Another financial hit came just a few years later. Their youngest child (of 3) was admitted to the hospital with osteomyelitis, a bone infection. With surgeries, medications, and a long stay, the financial burden seemed insurmountable. And that was to say nothing of the possibility they would lose their baby. Their faith carried them through again.
As the political unrest of the 60’s created tensions in their small town, The Wroten’s felt called to move to Lakeland. They immediately found a church and got to the business of building life. “God is good,” says Pat over Facetime. I know she’d put her arm around me if I was on the front porch with her. I can’t help but wonder if all this strife was the planting of a seed in her heart. Pat went on to become a Music Evangelist at 50 yrs. old traveling the world with Southern Baptist Evangelism. She sang and taught the women about the Bible. “I can’t imagine how I would have made it through without prayer,” she adds. “When you find Christ, you find yourself.”