My husband Don and I were not Christians when we married in 1957. He had a Catholic background and I had a Community Church background, with both of us being “holiday Christians.” The Lord blessed us with three daughters and in 1965 when they were young (ages three, five, & seven) a colporter came to our door and sold me the Great Controversy and a set of The Bible Story books. I read the entire Great Controversy within five days and immediately found my way to the Saginaw Seventh-day Adventist Church. I studied with Pastor Donesky and was soon baptized, which began years of trials and resistance from Don.
Don did everything he could think of to discourage us. He would leave the car without gas for us to get to church, thus forcing us to rely on church members to give us a ride to and from church. He would refuse to give us money for offerings, refused to attend programs the girls were in, provided no financial assistance for church school or academy, and would get very angry when he would find us praying for him. He would often lecture us that “we were wasting our time.” He would tell us to leave our religion at church and not bring it home. He didn’t understand that being a Christian is a lifestyle and not a weekly appointment.
Life for Don was about smoking, gambling, roller skating, and racing cars. On the day after his 50th birthday, while celebrating with his oldest daughter’s family in Illinois, Don was rushed to the hospital in respiratory distress. X-ray’s revealed that he had less than 10% lung capacity and he was quickly intubated and on a ventilator. The doctors’ predicted that if he lived he would never come off of the ventilator. The prayers continued and the Downer’s Grove pastor went to visit Don in the hospital. The Pastor asked him if he wanted prayer and to learn of Jesus. He shook his head yes and accepted Jesus as his Savior. I wasn’t convinced it was real and if he was really sincere. After all who wouldn’t accept Jesus on their deathbed?
We made arrangements to medflight him back to Michigan and he remained on the ventilator and in the hospital for an additional two months. Once he was off the ventilator he immediately asked for baptism and Bible studies were completed. Pastor Woodhams befriended Don and they worked on many projects together. During one of their projects Pastor Woodhams told Don that he had been praying for him for 15 years.
Don was physically very weak and could barely walk at the time however he insisted on being baptized by immersion as opposed to profession of faith. With the assistance of his doctor during the baptism to ensure that he was medically able to complete the baptism, and after 21 years of the prayers of many, Don was baptized.
Don experienced a true conversion and everyone was amazed at the change that Jesus worked in his life. He went from being grumpy to happy, from fighting church to supporting every aspect of it, from not attending to being there every time the door opened and being the lead sound operator.
Life took a brand new turn for his entire family. He was a grandpa to his grandchildren. He always made sure they had offerings for church, had tricycles to ride, had savings bonds for college, and they knew that he loved them. He started a health food store in the church and turned it into a profitable business. As a non-Christian he would steal money from his wife’s purse and his children when they were young, to now operating a store and making money for the church.
Everyone that knew him remarked at what a change there was in his life! Never give up praying! God’s timing is perfect!