A Passion for Souls
Chapter 3 - of A Passion for Souls
In the following winter I was recovering from mumps, and left alone at home, when the family went to Gr'ma and Gran'pa's one Sunday afternoon. Dad always had the radio on Sundays to listen to one Christian broadcast after another, and it had been left on while I was reading and dozing in bed. I must have been in a dozy state when the Hour of Decision with Billy Graham came on. Someone, maybe Cliff Barrows, described how they were in Ecuador, where the country went from the ocean on one side, over some rolling plains where there were some cities, and then up and over the Andes mountain range to a vast jungle, where countless tribes lived who had never seen a white man, and who had not heard the gospel of Jesus Christ.
I could just visualize all that! My heart began to ache with passion for those people who would die before anyone could bring the gospel to them. I rolled over in bed with an ache in my chest, weeping because even if I went as an adult, by that time many would have died and gone to hell.
A sleepy state may have overtaken me, or else I just had such a vivid daydream that I was right in it, but I had a dream that when I became an adult and tried to go out as a foreign missionary, I would be prevented because of health problems. However, I would write a book, and end up marrying a very nice doctor with a big house, and we'd start to adopt all kinds of needy and unwanted children. When I woke later, I knew instinctively that God had a special plan for me, and it might not involve a missionary role in the usual sense. However, if this was a prophetic dream I better keep it to myself as that would not go over well with my parents or my church!
From that time on, I had several secret passions. A passion for souls to be saved, and for me to be a soul winner. A passion to learn to write, and to start practicing right away. Most especially, though, a passion to walk and talk with the Lord, so that He could tell me more exactly what He wanted me to do. Since I had no one else to confide in, I began to have even more running conversational prayers, in which I dumped all my feelings and emotions, ideas, and daydreams on my dearest Friend. I read the Bible for cues so that He could speak to me in response. I believed that God's most reliable way of speaking to me was through His Word.
Not long after that, the Chortitz church and the Venice church were amalgamated into one that was located in Hague. We could walk over the train tracks to our church. I was allowed to join the choir and the youth group as soon as I was 13.
I had low self-esteem and didn't get a lot of affirmation at home, what with Mom being sickly, and Dad working long days to earn enough to keep the family fed, and their belief that too much praise could give us children a swelled head - well, I was left mainly with things I read or daydreamed, or what I heard in church. However, that mumps dream had given me a sense of destiny.
Besides, I discovered that my name, Ruth, means compassion, and good friend. Surely that was a clue as to what I was to be.
One Sunday, Pastor Bill Stoesz preached on the parable of the Master giving his servants talents. I knew the story well, but that day he stressed that we should not bury our talents, but rather use them to serve the Lord. As I listened, I found myself praying in my running conversational way along this line, "Well, Lord, I would, but I haven't got any talent. I can't sing, speak, do anything special." (Pastor Stoesz was naming various gifts and abilities). "About the only thing I'm known for is my vivid imagination, and that's not in those Bible lists of gifts in this sermon. But Lord, if You count that as a gift, by all means, it's Yours! I give it to You!"
I was still shy outside of the family, but I enjoyed working with children, and so when a teacher training course was offered during the Sunday School hour by Bill Neudorf, (he, with his wife Erma and daughter were headed to Morocco as missionaries), I eagerly joined.
Shortly after I finished the course a young woman who was going to the hospital for a couple of weeks asked if I'd take her teaching kit and teach her class. I was happy to say yes, and I absolutely loved teaching! I did my best to apply everything I'd just learned in the course. When I saw Mary back in church I tried to return her kit, but she waved me off, and said I could continue. That was the start of many happy years in children's ministries in church.
When I felt convicted that I should ask for baptism and take the pre-baptism classes during the Sunday School hour, my best friend, Esther Stoesz, and her brother Bill, the pastor's children, also did, and we were baptized together by Uncle John who came to do the honours. (Mom was in the hospital in Saskatoon at the time and missed that service, however she had seen to it that I had my first 'purchased' suit for the occasion).
It appeared that if I was willing and cheerful about helping in little things, it did not take long to be asked to do bigger things in church. So I made myself useful in little things.
As for spiritual growth, I'd long formed a habit of sitting on a cushion in the closet in the mornings, and sometimes before bedtime, too, to read my Bible and pray, often around the world, adding more places when I heard new missionaries.
I devoured the books on the few shelves at the foot of the stairs in the Hague EMMC church, where we attended since my high school days. By that time I didn't just stick to stories, I read non-fiction too, preferably of a devotional or Bible expository nature, but that one summer I even made it through Smith's History of the Mennonites! (I think it had 500-700 pages).
Furthermore, my daydreams were filled with visions of when I would be a working girl in Saskatoon, and there I would meet strangers and lead them to faith in the Lord Jesus. I often imagined the worst down-and-outers, in the most miserable circumstances I could picture and I figured out how to present Christ as the answer to all their problems. In fact, my dreams were so vivid, and my passion for souls so strong, I was rather convinced that this was a prophecy that I would live such a lifestyle - once I finished school and was a working woman in the city. I positively looked forward to it, and felt that I would need to do shift work as a telephone operator to have time for all this extra-curricular activity for the Lord!
Hague Central shut down, so now our nearest telephone office was in Saskatoon. I would have applied there for a part-time job while still in grade 12 - if only I had a car to drive - for sometimes Dad couldn't find work, and Mom worried about us having enough to eat! However, she insisted that I graduate first.
I was sick and coughing my head off, but I was at my graduation. The first high school grad in our family.
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