Camp and Assurance of Salvation
Chapter 2 - of "A Passion for Souls"
I couldn't bring myself to tell my parents the next morning, and a few days later when Uncle John came around to visit I just got tongue-tied and couldn't blurt out that I was saved, too - much as I wanted to tell him.
Today I see the great importance of letting others know of our salvation decision, for Satan used it against me back then. Any time I had an impatient spirit, or grumbled when I was called away from a book, or got angry at my brother Ernie, I felt convicted and ashamed. I also worried that maybe my private prayer had not been good enough to save me. What if I were not saved after all?
At our country schools we had Mr. Alfred Friesen come around on behalf of the Mid-Prairie Scripture Mission at certain times of the year. When he came in with his apple box of prizes, the teacher would tell us all to lay down our pencils and to sit up and listen. Then she gave Mr. Friesen the floor.
He often told a Bible story, and explained the importance of hiding God's Word in our hearts. In fall he would leave a long (legal length) sheet with groups of Bible references. We could each have one. We were to recite them to our teacher once we knew them. Then the teacher was to mark off on our sheets which we had recited perfectly, and when he came again, he would give out prizes. There were eight groups with 25 verses in each, and we could get a fancy pencil for saying the first 5 verses. If we recited whole sections, we would get to choose either a Danny Orlis book, or some other objects in his box of similar value, or if we declined the group prizes and went for the big prize, by memorizing all 200 verses, we could have either a red letter Bible, or two free weeks at Redberry Lake Bible camp in the summer!
Well, I started in grade one, and got my pencil and some group prizes. The next year I got all the group prizes, and built up a nice handful sized library of paperback story books. By the time I was 10 I was trying for the big prize, but didn't have the last of my verses recited in time to apply for camp, so I got a Bible.
I gave that one to my Gr'ma Kroeker, because she only had a big German Bible, and I thought she needed an English one. I had just received a nicer one with a blue case in Sunday School for reciting 25 verses in more or less one breath!
The year I turned 12, I won the two weeks at camp!
I often went out to the pasture or into our little poplar woods to practice saying my verses, and somehow as part of that I had begun to chatter to the Lord in prayer. Much in the way I chattered to any family members with whom I felt safe. My mind was always busy thinking things through, and processing what I'd heard or read, either in school or in church. I was happy to discover that the Lord never said to me like my Gram'pa Kroeker once did in his big gruff voice, "I vish you vas a radio; I'd svitch you off!"
I still had my doubts about my salvation, and whether I was really saved whenever I got cross or impatient with others, or felt misunderstood and hurt. But those two weeks at camp were a turning point for me.
My cabin counsellor seemed to see through me and understand me, and of course, I was delighted at making new friends, and that someone found a bathing suit for me, so I could go wading in the water at swim time. Everything was a wonderful experience for me, including the stories and messages from a real live missionary to Japan. (Who, I learned later at home, was Mom's second cousin, Jake Friesen from the Osler area). At the end of the two weeks, at the last campfire before bedtime, we were invited to come throw a log on the fire and give a short testimony for Jesus.
I wanted to do that but I was squirming. My counsellor noticed and nudged me to go ahead. Finally I did. I don't recall exactly what I said, but I blurted out something about having memorized a lot of verses, and learning to know and love the Lord better.
The astonishing thing to me was the peace that followed. At last, after about three years of wrestling with it, I'd managed to publicly say that Jesus was my Lord and Saviour.
It proves true Jesus' words in Matthew 10:32-33, "Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in Heaven. But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven."
However, I wasn't perfect by any means, and at home, even though I told Mom excitedly about everything I'd seen and done at camp, I soon found myself with un-Christ-like thoughts and words. So I began to worry again.
We were now living in Hague, and attending a sister church of the one in Chortitz, in the former Venice school house in the village of Blumenthal. My youngest sister Erma had been born, was a year old already, and since Mom was sickly, I ended up doing a lot of babysitting, and carrying Erma around on my hip as Mom was weak and exhausted most of the time.
A few weeks after camp, Uncle John (Rev. John D. Friesen), a popular speaker always preaching in various churches, came to speak in the Venice church. I looked forward to hearing him, as I could understand his messages, but that morning I was pacing in and out of the cloakroom with Erma, who was fussing. Whenever she quieted, I stepped out of the cloakroom to listen to the message, for he had announced that it was about knowing for sure that you were saved. I could not get everything, but I did hear him say that if you were not sure whether you were saved, you should read 1 John chapter 5 over and over, watching for the word "know" until you knew whether you were saved or not.
There was more about not being perfect, but in a growing process.
I remembered that instruction though. So that afternoon I took my Bible to the shady side of the house, and sat down to study 1 John 5. I read verses like; I John 5:9-12, "We accept man's testimony, but God's testimony is greater because it is the testimony of God, which he has given about his Son. Anyone who believes in the Son of God has this testimony in his heart. Anyone who does not believe God has made him out to be a liar, because he has not believed the testimony God has given about his Son. And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life."
I DID believe that Jesus was the Son of God, and that I had come to God through Him, so then I was a child of God. I had received eternal life. I promised the Lord that I would never waffle or doubt my salvation again. And I never have. That concern has never troubled me a single moment since then!
But oh, life was just beginning for me!
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