Ed and Mary Schroeder's Tough Love
As with many mature couples living in Canada and especially in the Saskatchewan valley area, Ed and Mary Schroeder have strong roots in the old country - in their case from Poland, where Mary' dad had led Ed's mother to receive Christ.
Events took them in different directions. Ed's parents came to Canada before he was born, and years earlier than Mary's family.
Mary remembers part of her childhood before the war years, but the atmosphere was always war-like and depressing. Everyone grew tense when the soldiers marched by, filling the street. At one point soldiers lined them up, threatening to shoot them. Her family had come from Poland into Germany during the war, partly by train and partly by walking. In Germany they struggled for some time as refugees.
Her mother, a godly, praying woman was rejected at one church, but she found a small baptist church. There they had an evangelistic crusade, and Mary at age 13, sensed the Spirit of God convicting her of sin and her need to go forward at the altar call, to confess Christ as her Saviour. The minister preached on the lost sheep and she cried throughout the service. She was eager to go forward. When she had, and someone had prayed with her, Mary knew immediately that she must be baptized. Nor has she ever doubted from that day forward that she was saved and definitely going to Heaven.
Mary's spiritual birthday came in January, and she was baptized in September, the day after her natural birthday, when she turned 14.
At this baptism she knew she was to give her testimony, and being a sensitive girl, she feared she would cry. She prayed very hard that she would not cry God answered her prayer, and she was able to share her faith without tears.
That same fall her family were able to immigrate into Canada.
Ed's conversion story took place in Canada, on a Saskatchewan farm. He remembers listening daily to the radio, together with his mother and older brother and sister, to a preacher by the name of W. H. Brooks, a Christian and Missionary Alliance (C&MA) pastor in Regina. Ed's brother Eugene and his sister had recently become believers in Christ, and Ed had noticed that his brother didn't fight back with him any more. So he was inclined to listen when the preacher Brooks spoke on the second coming of Christ.
Ed trembled and wept because he knew from the man's descriptions that his brother and sister, and his mother would be in Heaven, but he would not be allowed in. His sin burden got greater.
His mother was ironing laundry but noticed her son's distress and asked if he wanted to pray. He agreed, so she came over and knelt with him at the chesterfield. There he prayed to invite Jesus Christ into his heart and life. This was February 1943. Ed was 12 years old.
The radio program sent him a Bible shortly after that. God changed his heart too, and he and his brother got along fine. Ed would also sing as he worked from the tractor on the fields, and he enjoyed attending church. He still loves the old, old hymns.
His father was not a believer for many years. But Ed's mother had a wonderful faith and prayed aloud and fervently for her husband for many years for her husband. In 1946, when they had been married 21 years, he too became a Christian.
Ed and Mary met in B.C., when Ed went to visit his sister and brother-in-law. His parents knew of Mary's family and suggested he stop in to see them.
Over the years Ed and Mary have not only raised six children to love the Lord, but have at various times taken in other troubled young people into their home.
The first instance came about when they lived at Drake. Ed took some grain to the nearest elevator and the agent, a young man, had his younger daughter Patti* there, and she wanted to go for a ride, so Ed received permission to take her home - to be picked up later by her dad. From that day on the girl's family was on their doorstep all the time! The wife had little in housekeeping and cooking skills, and liked to be found over at the Schroeder home at meal times, knowing they would be invited to the table.
That couple had two daughters and the older one was the same age as theSchroeders' daughter Marlene, so those two girls were quite close. Judy, an older daughter of the Schroeders' led Patti's older sister to receive Christ, She ended up at a Bible School in Europe. Later the Schroeders learned that girl had become an actress, and was traveling in Canada. Judy was able to connect with her, and has taken up correspondence with her recently by email.
Later the school called and asked if they would take in an abused girl that had to come out of her home. Darla* cost Mary and Ed a lot of prayers and concern.
Years later an old friend of theirs got a call from this girl who was trying to reach the Schroeders. She had said, to give them a message - that their efforts had not been in vain.
When they moved into Saskatoon after they lost their farm, one of their sons introduced them to Rick Langlois at church one day. This was just days after he had met Christ. (See 'The Street Fighter Champion" in There is Hope, for his testimony). They took him out for lunch and then Ed invited him into their home as a son.
This was vital and life-changing for Rick. as he made the transition from his past street life to a new sanctified life.
Rick lived with them for five and a half years, and cost them more tough love, prayers and tears than all the others put together, but they consider it worth it all. Now they are very proud of him, and rejoice at his Hands-On Ministry on 20th Street and area to young street kids who grow up there and need to be loved to Christ as well.
Now, after raising six children, they have a family of about 42. Their children have said they should not give everyone individual Christmas gifts any more. So the last couple of years Mary has ordered a large hot tub for the back yard, and the kids have all enjoyed that as the gift from the grandparents.
Every Christmas Ed and Mary gather the children around to tell the Christmas story with flash cards and a birthday cake for Jesus. Sometimes the children are given a box of costume clothes and they organize a pageant for the adults.
Mary and Ed encourage everyone in the family to give Jesus a birthday gift. At first they took an offering for a special missions project; now everyone writes down on pieces of paper the gift they are giving to Jesus, usually a sum for a ministry or favourite missions project.
Then they have a sharing time when everyone tells the whole family what God has done for them in the past year. This is the most precious period for them; a wonderful time of seeing how family members have grown spiritually in the past year.
It used to be that they handed out candles. Only when they were sharing were they allowed to light theirs. But with so many younger children there was too much danger of accidental fire, Mary decided last year to buy up a quantity of clear stars on a stem with batteries in the stand. Now they light these instead, by pushing a switch, and marvel at the growing circle of shining stars as they listen to the touching personal testimonies of shining for Jesus' sake.
(Photo:The Christmas Rick brought his sweetheart home. See Shining Christmas Star a Reflections article about the Schroeders' Christmas traditions).