Shining Light to Seniors

PERSONAL TESTIMONY

When I was four years old, God was beginning a very clear movement in our family. We started attending a new church, leaving behind a quite liberal one which labeled as “myths” the stories of the Bible. The new church, Midwest Bible Church in Chicago, was alive and solid, led by well-known godly men. It was there that I heard the story of salvation and became aware of my need to put my trust in Christ as my Savior and Lord. I may have been four when I prayed to receive Him. At age 11, I made sure.

 

I was in an incredible atmosphere to grow in the Lord. The preaching and music were powerful. The atmosphere was evangelistic and it was hefty in the area of Bible teaching. Prophecy was taught. Book-by-book study was important. Extreme Bible memorization was stressed. Most of all, however, this incredible teaching and preaching was used to bring about genuine commitment on the part of the members, young and old alike. During my teen years, I surrendered to God, not only for some type of service, but also to follow Him and obey Him in my every day life.

 

My mother was a Christian. My father was not. This caused occasional serious friction, although it did not often interfere with our church attendance. When I was about 15, my father became a Christian due greatly to my mother’s willingness to follow what she understood God’s command to be for wives in regard to their husbands. Our family experienced an unusual touch of God and it began to dawn on us that we fell into the category of those “to whom much is given.”

 

My heart was set to love God and serve Him. That was my sole purpose in life. I wish I could say that I did this unfalteringly, but I cannot. Nevertheless, even in the times of disobedience and coldness, my inner heart cried to God, calling upon Him to keep after me and to bring me back.

 

With my eyes on the missionfield and a desire to do Bible translation, I went to Moody Bible Institute. With great anticipation, I looked forward to working with Wycliffe in perhaps Mexico, and made initial contact with them. In July, after my first year, my father died unexpectedly at age 54. After praying and weighing everything, I knew that I should take care of my mother who had been very dependent on my dad. The plan was to stay out of Moody for a year.

 

In July of the next year, my husband, Ken, and I started dating. We were married a year later. My plans to go to the missionfield, you might say, were either dead or on hold. Five children appeared within the next six years. Several times during the first ten years of our marriage, Ken and I seriously looked into moving into full time service in a foreign field, but that did not happen. I struggled much with the thought that I had “looked back” and not kept my vow.

 

It would be many years later before I could rest in what had become my “spot” in life, whether or not I should have made a different decision at the time of my father’s death. Our life was filled with nearly full time service in the local church and in personal evangelism and the important raising of our children... doing some things right, making many mistakes. Because of our 28 years of nursing home ministry, countless old people put their trust in Christ. As Awana club directors and leaders in other youth group settings, we were able to lead many youngsters to the Lord. Upon some introspect and retrospect, I was finally able to rest in the fact that I had not “fallen by the wayside,” but rather had thrown myself into the battle in the local church setting.

 

My life…our lives…were committed fully to our great God. My love for Him increased day by day as did my trust through the storms of life which included significant financial turmoil. I hungered and thirsted after His Word and loved delving into it and finding it absolutely relative to my life. I became a serious student of the Bible and craved knowing more about God and His nature.

 

How can a person put more than 50 years of a walk with God into a few paragraphs?

 

My husband, Ken, and I were married for 42-plus years, each of those years getting more incredibly wonderful. The night before we were to move to our retirement farmhouse near Springfield ?IL, since our belongings were loaded on to two moving vans, we spent the night in a motel. The next morning, August 31, 2006, at 7:04 a.m., I attempted to awaken him to rush off to the closing on our house in Woodstock IL, but he was gone. He was absent from the body, present with the Lord. I just missed saying goodbye.
(Story available on Amazon.com:  There Was A Great Storm. There Was a Great Calm.)

 

My life changed significantly. I went through with the sale of the house, did not buy the farmhouse down south, undertook the three-month chore of dissolving Ken’s 40-year carpentry business, stayed with my children week by week for five months, lived out of my car and a knapsack during that time, and finally purchased a home in a new town where housing and taxes were not so high. Everything changed: my job, church, friends, small group, stores, neighborhood. It was at this juncture, living in a strange new town, that after visiting many area churches, I found Maywood Evangelical Free Church, a distinct and gracious answer to specific prayer. Five important items were on my list of “musts” as I sought God’s direction in settling into a church. Maywood had all five.

 

Another thing happened when Ken died—almost immediately. An old aspiration began to sprout: a desire to be involved in full time Christian service. God provided a wonderful temporary position for me which lasted a year and a half. This was good. It was a time of much needed healing and stabilizing for me. In March of this year I was laid off with 50 others and found myself looking for another job. But my heart does not want to give any more blood, sweat and tears to the secular world. When I think about the hours of energy and dedication that I’ve given to secular employment I wish that it had all been directed towards an eternal effort. My heart’s desire, and this might be called an “objective” on a resume, is to be involved full time in a ministry of eternal worth. With my whole heart, I believe that time is very short. I’d like to do the most good for my King until He comes.

 

A line from the movie, “Schindler’s List,” keeps coming back to me. After risking his life to save so many Jews, Oskar Schindler says, “I could have done more.” That is where I am. People pat me on the back and tell me how awesome it is that I have ministered in nursing homes for 36 years, but in my heart, I know I could have done more. I don’t want to look back in ten years and have to say that again.

 

I have purposed in my heart that I will not die on the vine in my later years.