So let’s get back to Canada again – I got a bit ahead of myself talking about being a missionary and about Ramadan in the “old” days!
As I told you before, my Mom was a committed Christian who prayed and taught us to pray. My dad wasn't as committed as her, he was brought up in a different church, the old Mennonite church, and he didn't go to church except for weddings and funerals. But my mother prayed for all of us...
As small children, I don’t remember religion playing such a big role in our lives, because my Dad wasn’t so keen on it. But there was a school about four miles away that had a Vacation Bible School every summer, and Mom always made sure we attended - that became the foundation for my beliefs.
A Mother’s PrayersI don't really remember Mom telling us Bible stories or anything, but she would sing, and she taught us to say a bedtime and a mealtime prayer. Sometimes she would have some friends come in and they would sing the old hymns that she loved. She had a notebook and she wrote all these songs down by hand, and it was precious to us that she had done that. (My Mother, my little sister and I)
She played a huge role in my life, even though she died when I was relatively young. There's a song that says mother's prayers have followed me, and I feel strongly that my mother helped shape my life and my destiny.
I became a committed Christian when I was 12 years old, and I knew even then that I wanted to serve God and that I wanted to do whatever the Lord wanted me to do. For me, the ultimate was always to be a missionary. The rest of the family didn't feel that call, but for me it was always a drive.
“Yes! I will!”Mother had a cousin who was a missionary in Africa, and she always talked about her. She would get letters from her, and Mother always said that her cousin had fully obeyed the Lord and gone out to Africa, and that's what I wanted to do too. I want to be able to go out and serve the Lord. Even as young as eight years old I somehow I had that feeling or that desire in my heart to do that.
When we would go to Bible camp, they would ask us who is going to serve the Lord and I would always be the first one up there saying: “Yes! I will!”
Why? I guess never really counted the cost of putting my hand up, I just said yes, I want to do that. And you know, the Lord just puts it into your heart. It's a calling you can't ignore.
My sister made a commitment to the Lord before I did. She went to Bible School in town, and she called to say they would be having some wonderful films about the return of Christ – she said you'll want to see that. So we went in to town, and it was in the winter, so it was quite a trip for us.
The RaptureI was just overwhelmed about the story of Christ's return and how those who were ready would be taken up, and all the rest would be left behind. I was only 12 years old at the time, and of course I didn't want to be left behind.
I believe that Christ will come in the air, and those believers who are alive and remaining on earth will meet him and he will take them up – that's what we call the rapture – and after that there will be seven years of tribulation on earth, during which all hell will break loose.
We were taught that during this rapture time, when Christ comes, the Christians who are alive will be caught up and will be gone, but life will still carry on. If you're not ready, you will be left on earth to go through the tribulation.
I didn't want to be left because I knew my mother and sister would go, and I didn't want to be left here by myself to go through the tribulation. So there was a practical fear, but at the same time there was a real conviction in my heart.
Life-Changing AdviceI went to talk to someone, a friend, and she said you must pray and ask God to forgive your sins, and ask Christ to come into your heart. He will cleanse you, and beget a new life within you, and then you will become a Christian believer. And that's what happened. There was an immediate change in my life. I wanted to live differently; I wanted to read the Bible. My whole view of life changed.
Some people might say that 12 years old is very young for something like that to happen, but I guess I was ready for it, and as I say mother had prayed for us, she laid the groundwork and sowed the seed, and I was ready.
So from the age of 12 there was a change in me and in what I wanted. I didn't just want to have a job and make money and live from day to day, I wanted to do something worthwhile, I felt that God was calling me.