Editor’s note: This is third in a series on what Union alumni are doing now.
David Lafayette and Katie Fruge graduated from Union in May 2007 with a bachelor of art in Biblical studies in Biblical languages and a bachelor of art in Christian studies.
Three weeks after graduation, the couple moved to Fort Worth, Texas, to receive their master of divinity degrees at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
They are now pursuing doctorate degrees in systematic theology.
“I chose to come to Fort Worth because I specifically wanted a program that allowed me to specialize my master of divinity in women’s studies, which Southwestern offers,” Katie Fruge said, adding that she plans to work at the undergraduate level teaching a women’s studies program from a biblical perspective.
D.L. Fruge said he plans to be a pastor “and a professor who asks American Christians if their Christian lives are more reflective of self-focused universalists or if they want to see how much more fun it is to care about others’ earthly and eternal lives.”
Katie Fruge said she and her husband have always felt called to local church ministry and that they hope to be able to “pass the knowledge that we have been privileged to attain during our seminary studies on to others.”
The couple’s two-year-old daughter, Eve, was born with Amniotic Band Syndrome near the beginning of their second year in the doctoral program.
Despite surviving a severe case, Eve lives without a left arm and right leg and has a scarred right hand and no index finger.
“We have had to learn to schedule and prioritize life more carefully than we did during our master’s degree,” Katie Fruge said.
“Eve is our first daughter, so I we just give her what she needs,” D.L. Fruge said. “We spend a lot more time reading, building blocks and doing other non-running, non-walking activities.”
In discussing Eve as a part of their ministry, Katie calls her a “modern miracle.”
“Becoming a mother challenges you and teaches you about God’s sacrificial love to an extent you never thought was possible,” she said. “Eve has her own amazing story that will be a part of her ministry someday. She portrays God’s goodness and faithfulness to everyone who meets her.”
Eve’s parents wish for her to be a testimony at first sight.
“In America, everyone hides his or her imperfections,” D.L. Fruge said. “We want Eve to show people that how you treat others and love others is what matters.”
Having a daughter with a visible physical disability has changed the couple’s ministry.
“From a ministerial perspective, it helps disarm people immediately,” Katie Fruge said. “They see her and we immediately become ‘real people’ to them. They realize our life isn’t perfect, it’s had challenges, and still despite the seemingly overwhelming struggles we’ve had, we can still confidently and joyfully proclaim God’s goodness.
“I think the world is really hungry for something that is real and different, and having Eve has helped us show others that there is something utterly different about God and Christianity.
“They are able to see the reality of our faith before their eyes, and that helps us point them to the One who is all-powerful and all sufficient, no matter the circumstance.”
George Guthrie, Benjamin W. Perry professor of Bible, said he remembers the couple as being “wonderfully committed to the Lord” and has no doubt that God has brought Eve into their lives for a very special and unique purpose.
“I think they will be able to care for and build community with other believers who have a similar journey, but they also will have a unique inroads to ministry with non-Christian families who have a disabled child,” Guthrie said.
Katie Fruge’s favorite part of attending Union had to do with student life, she said.
She was heavily involved in Zeta Tau Alpha as an officer every year, including first vice president her senior year. She played almost all of the intramural sports offered at Union and served on several councils for the Student Government Association.
She was also a FOCUS leader her junior and senior years.
D.L. Fruge was active in student life from the beginning as well, including serving on Freshman Council, Students Activities Council and the Cardinal & Cream and enjoyed being a residence adviser, studying abroad and working in the Wellness Center.
“I really enjoyed hanging out with the students who did and talked about things that matter,” said D.L. Fruge. “That was a lot of the people involved with International Justice Mission and ethics groups. I really liked being around people who tried to live differently than the people around them.”
Katie Fruge has some advice for current students: “Savor every memory; it’s over way too fast.”
She added, “Be intentional with your friendships.”