Lori Apon’s loss of her husband, Bobby, to suicide 20 years ago has led the mother of eight to minister to widows and the fatherless in their affliction through Perspective Ministries.
Bobby Apon, a founding member of NewSong, committed suicide in May 1999. The love of other families and being covered with prayer helped Lori and their children—all between the ages of 1 and 10 at the time—to walk through dark times and, now, love others.
Perspective Ministries, based in Atlanta, seeks to “meet the practical, emotional, and spiritual needs of widows,” Lori says. It does this in various ways, such as equipping local churches to care for widows, offering workshops and support groups, and coming alongside widows as they walk this path.
The ministry is based on these “pillars of grace”:
- The Body of Christ
The living out of those pillars supported the Apons when they needed it most and in turn have become the basis of Perspective Ministries.
Besides giving spiritual and practical support to widows, Perspective makes sure children are loved on and cared for as well. Every year, money is raised to help send kids who have lost a parent to various camps and to help widowed moms and the fatherless at Christmas.
The organization is also piloting a tool to enable Christians to identify local widows and their needs. The widows go online, give a brief bio about themselves and list their needs. Individuals and churches in the area are then able to see these needs and meet them. Widows have been blessed by everything from a homemade meal, ride to get groceries, companionship, house work help, and many other things.
These good works grew out of the Apon family’s pain.
Robert “Bobby” Apon gave his life to Christ on a Sunday evening in May 1979, according to the Perspective Ministries website, after realizing he had grown up in church all his life but had never truly repented and trusted in Jesus for the full atonement of his sin. Shortly after he was saved, he and Lori were married.
“I had no doubt that Bobby was the man that God had handpicked for me, and Bobby never had any doubt that I was the wife God had handpicked for him,” Lori recalls in a video on the Perspective Ministries website. “We came to our wedding altar, though, really both in bondage and both prisoners of the enemy.”
Their first several years of marriage brought four children and the opportunity for Bobby to be one of four original members of the Christian band NewSong in 1981, which went on to receive 12 GMA Dove Award nominations and one Grammy Award nomination. NewSong also founded Winter Jam Tour Spectacular, the United States’ largest annual Christian music tour.
For the next 11 years, Bobby led worship and sowed seeds for the Lord. But behind the scenes he was gripped by an addiction to sexual sin and pornography. After committing adultery, Bobby had to step down from his role in NewSong.
“Over the course of time, Bobby made some choices that cost him his ministry and he was required to leave the ministry,” Lori says in a video. “That became a real turning point for our family.”
Walking the road of a widow, and raising the fatherless, has put something within me that only God could instill in my heart ...Lori Apon
From there Bobby did odd jobs for several years and the Apon family continued to grow with a new baby born almost every year. Eventually Bobby was hired on as the head worship pastor of a church in the late 1990s. The bondage of sexual addiction continued to take hold of him, though, and lead him down the road of a double life. On May 17, 1999, after yet more adultery, the loss of another ministry, and, according to Lori, the belief in Satan’s lies that the world would be better off without him and that Christ’s forgiveness is not enough … Bobby Apon took his own life.
“Overnight, I was left grieving, working through betrayal, working through rejection, and then I had eight children who were really just babies, hurting really bad and had no clue about suicide,” Lori says. “It has been quite a process to work through, but my children would not be who they are today if it were not for such suffering so early on in their lives.”
The night before Bobby took his own life, Psalm 68:5 was quoted to his church congregation, with Lori and their children listening, before Bobby led the church in worship. The verse says, “Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in His holy habitation.” Little did Lori know at that time that she would cling to that verse less than 24 hours later when she herself would be a widow and her children fatherless.
“Psalm 68:5 is what God used to help me communicate to all of my children that they now had a new daddy, and we have continued to live by that verse through the last 20 years,” Lori says in a video on PerspectivesMinistries.org. “And I knew that I would need desperately for God to be my husband.”
In the years to follow, God faithfully kept His promises and took care of each of the remaining nine Apons. He used the Body of Christ to minister to Lori and her children as they learned how to do life without a husband and father to lead their home. He sent families to come alongside them in a variety of ways. People provided meals, rides, homes and family to spend holidays with, a handyman, and father-daughter and father-son relationships for the children.
Eventually, due in great part to these blessings, Lori began to feel the calling to minister to other widows and orphans who were suffering in the same way she and her children had, and Perspective Ministries was born.
“Walking the road of a widow, and raising the fatherless, has put something within me that only God could instill in my heart, and that is to care for others in the ways we have been cared for,” Lori says.
Of course, nothing would have come to pass if it were not for the power of prayer. Lori says she lost track of just how many people covered her and her children in prayer over the years, every one of which she felt and appreciated.
God used the children’s time in Christian education to teach them about Himself. In talking about the children’s school teachers, Lori says, “they wanted to make sure each of the children’s relationship with the Lord was most important. Those dear teachers took the kids under their wing, nurtured them, loved on them, and were a constant listening ear over the years.”
Finally, mentorship served a beautiful role in Lori’s life and the lives of each of her children. One of the hardest seasons was the period during which Lori had six teenagers in the home. But even in that, God provided eight couples to come alongside her family and help mentor and raise those teenagers for the Lord.
Truly Lori and her children have seen God use tragedy, suffering, and darkness for beauty, grace, and goodness in their lives.