Born in Dallas to father John R. Rice and mother Lloys, Joy was the youngest of six daughters. “My father was a pastor at the time, and most of the people at the church had hoped his sixth child would be a son. But I never grew up thinking that daddy was disappointed that he didn’t have any boys - even though I heard some of the church people cried,” Joy chuckles.
“My dad had said, ‘After having the first three; I decided that I was partial to girls, we started with Grace and ended with Joy’,” she relates.
With her parents paving a solid foundation, it was inevitable that Joy would walk a path provided her by her Father in Heaven and on earth.
“Daddy went into evangelism and moved to Wheaton, Ill. He wanted all of his daughters to have a liberal arts education. He and mother graduated from Baylor University. He loved literature and he also thought it would be good for us to meet our husbands from Wheaton College and five out of six of us met our husbands out of Wheaton,” Joy proclaims.
Joy’s early aspirations of wanting to be a writer and a musician as well as to marry a preacher, have a large family and to travel – all came to fruition.
“God let me do all those things,” Joy says. “Daddy said that we needed to take voice and take piano and get ready for God to use us.”
“Three of us have master's degrees; I am working on a PhD in leadership at this point in my life. We never grew up thinking that being a woman was less or that we couldn’t make a difference in the world. We got to travel and go to a lot of meetings and meet people all over the country. In our home we had visiting evangelists and missionaries from all over,” Joy says.
Her father was founder of the publication The Sword of the Lord. “We did everything from packing books, opening mail and working in the subscription department. He had over 100,000 subscribers. I worked in the editorial department. I learned to proofread and all those things led to The Joyful Woman Jubilee in 1977. We said to my dad that women need to hear women teaching,” Joy asserts.
Dr. Rice had thought possibly 400 people would come on the rainy March day in Murfreesboro, but God doubled his expectations when 800 women had shown up. “We had to hold it in two different auditoriums,” his daughter said. “He had his eyes open that women were hungry to hear the message. This was before Kay Arthur and the other women’s conferences began. It really was a pioneer work.”
That same year Focus on the Family was founded and a year later the family began publishing the Joyful Woman’s magazine during the years 1978-2002. “I went to 19 foreign countries and we had subscribers in every state at the highest point,” Joy states.
“Many people had thought that the Christian life was dull and boring and we knew it was meant to be joyful and full of love, laughter and learning how to apply God’s word to our everyday lives,” she says.
When dating Roger, Joy gleefully recalls how her husband was so persistent in asking her to marry him. “He would say, ‘Joy do you love me?’ And I would say, ‘Yes, I love you,’ and he would say, ‘Will you marry me?’ And I would say, ‘I don’t know, I’m scared’,” Joy relates.
This same conversation occurred between the two repetitively. “Then when I went to graduate school and Roger went to pastor in Paducah, Ky. I went to Greenville, S.C. to get a master’s in music and speech. It became very clear to me when I was away from him that he was the man I loved and I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him,” Joy vows.
After asking Joy to marry him three times in spite of her hesitations, Roger asked her a fourth time. “He had called me, and sure enough he said, ‘Joy, do you love me?’ And I said ‘Yes, I love you’ and he said, ‘Will you marry me?’ And I said ‘Yes,’ and he said YOU WILL??” Joy chuckled.
“We had dated for four years and this August we celebrated our wedding anniversary of 52 years – I was only five when I married,” Joy quips.
The couple had their first baby while both were in graduate school. After moving to Missouri where Roger was a pastor, Joy taught piano lessons and organ lessons. “I had three little boys and I taught at home. I also directed the church choir and wrote plays and dramas for church,” Joy says.
They moved to Colorado to their next pastorate. “I also taught voice and was a substitute teacher in public schools. Roger and I wanted a girl. We prayed for a girl and we ultimately got three,” Joy declares.
In 1969 Dr. Lee Robinson invited the couple to come to Tennessee Temple University to serve on the staff. “Roger was pastoring at the same time. I taught English and music and directed the concert choir. I took the choir to Europe and made nine recordings - I was so busy, we sang in seven countries,” Joy attests.
She was teaching full time, had six children, performed in Shakespearian plays and was a very involved woman. “At Temple, Roger and I took 13 groups of people to the Holy Land. We went on humanities tours and Roger and I have been to 42 countries. Those things I had dreamed of - we never thought that God would give us all of those wonderful opportunities,” Joy expresses.
In 1984 there were 3,500 women at a jubilee here in Chattanooga; a ministry Dr. Rice began with his family. This November there will be another women’s conference held.
“We have changed because there are a lot of other women’s conferences now. We focus more on smaller retreats and women’s events where we can be more personal,” Joy insists.
Joy had played the piano and was an organist and choir master at a Presbyterian church for 13 years and teaching at Temple the same time.
“I have gotten to do more than I have ever dreamed that I would be able to do. I have written books, I speak at several places and I still teach full time,” Joy says.
“I started teaching college in 1969 but now I speak to a ‘foreign culture’ that speaks a foreign language,” Joy puns. “Things are so different now. Today, it is a different culture with emailing, texting – it’s a different kind of student than when I began teaching,” she claims.
Joy and Roger recently went on a cruise from Miami to London. With 10 grandchildren and three great grandchildren, life is very full for the couple. “The only new thing I am doing right now is the PhD program in leadership,” Joy says.
Joy studied the different theories of styles of leadership; of various people such as educators, politicians and managers and noticed certain leadership qualities. “I have really been fascinated to learn about the theories of leadership – transformational leadership,” Joy says. “They used to think a person was a born leader; but you can train people to be leaders. You can teach them to be better leaders in an area of life, whether it is in business or church or even in their home and leading their children.”
“Our three sons are all in ministry, they are all good writers and it is interesting that they all have followed in a same kind of pattern. I think that is related to leadership,” Joy attests.
“My goal is to write my dissertation that will be a book on the transformation leadership style of my dad Dr. John R. Rice. Two biographies have been written about his life and I have two dissertations from a major university, letters from people about him, I have started collecting material on his leadership style,” Joy says.
“I love the students. I am not sure how long I will continue to teach; I have a full schedule and teach online courses for women. I love helping women to see how God can use them as women.”