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Ruth Marlene Friesen - a compassionate friend

A Passion for Souls

by Ruth Marlene Friesen

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Chapter 1 - First, I Need Jesus Myself

My parents carried me to church when I was a week old. I have been in church thousands upon thousands of times since. They also dedicated me to the Lord in that early baby stage. Looking back now I feel that the Lord accepted me and made me His own from back then, or even earlier, for it says in Ephesians 1:4 " just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, "

My Gr'ma Kroeker told me that as a child she was teachable, eager to learn. I was too. I was sensitive, imaginative and eager to learn. I usually read and talked as if I were gulping knowledge, afraid that there might be no more.

Myself as a child, with my brother Ernie

My mother was gored by a cow when I was still preschool, and Mom was sickly, so I was often expected to babysit and do adult chores. I recall being a bit nervous when left alone with my younger siblings. After they had fallen asleep I would be dozing off to the flickering shadows of the kerosene lantern on the ceiling. My imagination saw animals in those shadows.

With my vivid imagination, and role as big sister to two brothers and then in due time two sisters, I was often in charge of them, inventing games and home-made toys, and reading to them. Especially once I got to school and learned to read in English - I learned many things that my parents didn't know. I read to my siblings by the hour.

I loved Sunday School, Bible stories, and what I could understand of church services. I believed in God, and Jesus, and His death and resurrection. I can't remember not believing. I loved the missionary stories, and had a passion for souls. That is, I wanted to see souls saved, or come to know Jesus, (though that may have been picked up naturally from what I heard in church).

Mom's cousin, Rev. John D. Friesen, (well-known in the Saskatchewan valley area and beyond), started preaching in our village and immediate area when he was 18 years old. As a gifted, passionate speaker, he could switch between three languages, translating for himself fluently between English, German and Plaut Dietsche. He used lots of little stories or illustrations too, and I usually understood those best. (I was taught to call him "Uncle John" out of respect).

Mom, along with Uncle John and his wife Mary (another of Mom's many cousins), were among the founding members of the little evangelical church at the west end of Chortitz, our village, which was about a mile long.

As Uncle John's reputation and fervor grew, he arranged for tents in which to have gospel crusades. At least once, when I was about nine he had one in my great-aunt and uncle's metal quonset, on the John Thiessen farm.

I went forward each night for the children's feature when Uncle John usually had an object lesson or short story that explained the gospel message for children. I clearly believed, but I also picked up that I must make a personal decision to accept Jesus as my Saviour and to surrender my life to Him. Later, towards the end of the service when he gave an altar call for those ready to make this decision to come forward, I felt a tugging in my heart that I should go, but I turned shy. It looked like just adults were going forward.

I lost my nerve to go forward at that time for several evenings in a row. Finally my inner tension even during the day, was so strong that I resolved that this next evening I would go forward - no matter what!

But that next evening a severe thunder and lightning storm broke out after the service had begun. The noise of the rain (and maybe hail) pelting on the metal building was so loud that even with the public address system, Uncle John could hardly be heard. Then he interrupted himself to say that he would dismiss us, but that if we wanted to do business with God we could still do that privately at home. We should not put it off.

I remember Mom and Dad were very tense driving home as the car swerved right and left on the muddy, country road, and the sky cracked and burst with bright strikes of lightning. I could tell this was not a good time to say anything to them.

That night in bed I had a dream. I was playing with some second cousins who were home on furlough at their grandparents' farm just outside our village, and that farm had a woods with a lot of trees. We were chasing around among the trees as kids always did, when suddenly there was a fire in the little cabin where these cousins were staying. I was as busy as anyone, helping to hand the littlest kids and babies out of the burning cabin, and then panting and racing after them to get away from the smoke and fire.

I woke suddenly, and as I realized that it had been a dream I knew instinctively that a fire represents hell, but that I was not truly safe from hell myself until I accepted the Lord Jesus as my personal Saviour. Well, I had wanted to do that at the service, but - Then I remembered what Uncle John had said about being able to get saved anywhere by just praying, confessing my sin and asking Jesus to forgive me.

There is that well-known 'gospel in a nutshell' verse, John 3:16, "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." However, two verses further on it says, "Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son." So I knew; if I didn't deliberately choose to receive Christ as my own personal Saviour, I was condemned to hell automatically.

Knowing that dreams and such can disappear in the morning sunlight, when we are not sure they happened, I decided that I better get out of bed and kneel on the cold floor so that I would remember that I did this. I got out of bed, knelt and asked Jesus to forgive and save me so that I could truly be a soul-winner and a witness for Jesus. I have never forgotten that experience, but I did have trouble telling others about it for a while.

Back to Hope index
Chapter 1 - First, I Need Jesus Myself
Chapter 2 - Camp and Assurance of Salvation
Chapter 3 - A Passion for Souls
Chapter 4 - Hunting for Souls in Saskatoon
Chapter 5 - Ministries-for-My-Imagination-in-London
Chapter 6 - A Life Changing Spiritual Battle and Move
Chapter 7 - By Still Waters - The Hague Years
Chapter 8 - Multi-tasking Missionary and Business Woman

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