- Parent Category: History
- Category: Personal Stories
- Published on Saturday, 01 July 2006 12:21
My conversion and call to missionary service.
A LOOK AT THE SECOND FLOOR
I eased my uncle's car into a position so that we could have a clear view of a narrow space between two old houses. He looked quizzically at me wondering what fascination a space between two houses might have. "Do you see that window on the second floor?" I asked. Tears came to my eyes as I told him that back in 1942, as a child of nine years, I came to know Christ as my Saviour. A note of gratitude rose silently from my heart to God the Father in Heaven. Then we drove away.
That was in the 1980's when I visited Winnipeg, Canada. My uncle had been recently saved, so could enter into my joy. He had loaned me his car so I could relive the most important event that anyone can have in life.
PARENTS WITH A CONCERN
It was a cold night that 15th of February as my parents led me and my two sisters along snowy Harbison Ave. Little did they know that something in the Gospel meeting which had just finished in the East Kildonan Gospel Hall had caused me concern about my soul. Father and Mother were active in the local assembly, and Dad was an elder there. He also preached the Gospel and ministered the Word in other halls. Sometimes I would go with him. Both parents had a great desire that their children come to know Christ as Saviour.
As I lay in the darkness in my bedroom on the second floor and, I was concerned about my soul's salvation. I don't know who preached that night but I was made aware of my personal need. I called my mother who thought I wanted milk and cookies. She told me to go to sleep but I continued to call.
Something in my voice transmitted a sense of needing more than food to eat. Mother stood in the doorway of the bedroom and asked what I wanted. "I want to be saved," was my reply. It must have been a thrill for her to hear those words.
Bringing her Bible to my bedside, Mother turned up various Scriptures. There was no need to "prove" I was a sinner and needed salvation. She read the opening words of John 14 where the Lord Jesus speaks to troubled hearts, as was mine. "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No man cometh unto the Father but by Me." (vs.6) The simplicity of the words were understandable to a young mind and right then and there I trusted Christ as my Saviour.
A lady known as Auntie Dartnell was visiting my Mother one afternoon of that same week and Mother called me to tell her what had happened in my life. I fled downstairs to where my father was fixing something in his shop. My Mother later expressed her disappointment that I had been reluctant to tell what the Lord had done for me. "That won't happen again," I promised and soon I was explaining the way of salvation to my sister Gwyneth. To my surprize, she believed the truth and was saved.
A TRAINING GROUND
At age fourteen, I had dreams of becoming a pilot, or a radio announcer, and thought it would be nice to travel. I consciously shelved the idea of a pilot for he had to work on Sunday. Radio announcing of worldly songs was incompatible with Christian witness.
My parents moved from Winnipeg to Vancouver when I was fifteen. Later I went to work at the Canadian National Telegraphs. Mrs Tom Hay (of Japan) would periodically took me along with her sons for a car ride. She would drive out to Deep Cove, a community about 15 kilometers from Vancouver. A desire to start a Sunday School there was born in my heart. Deep Cove is nestled at the foot of the mountains with a natural harbour for pleasure craft. Along with Bill Hague, now my brother-in-law, we started a Sunday School work and it proved a good training ground for several of us. We went door to door with invitations to the Sunday School, and on numerous occasions were called upon to defend our faith in Christ. It was a test of fire for young people, having to respond to hard-bitten agnostics as well as to the main-line church members who saw us as intruders in their closed society.
A CONSTANT EXERCISE
With parents who supported missionaries and workers in a practical way, serving the Lord was considered a privilege and the Lord's work was always before our mind. Years later I realized that the letters read during family Bible Reading when I was a child were in fact letters of acknowledgement from workers.
While still in my teens and working for the Telegraph company, I sought a transfer to the province of Newfoundland, on the opposite side of Canada to Vancouver, British Columbia. Gospel work was taking hold in that province and I was willing to go there to work and be a help. However, three business offices I wrote all answered negatively, so I concluded that Newfoundland was not in God's plans for me.
Evelyn and I were married in 1954. We had agreed that should the Lord call us into His work, we both were willing to go. We were in fellowship in the South Main assembly and continued to work in Deep Cove.
I wondered if Africa might be a place to which the Lord might call us, and used to cull addresses from a list appearing in the Pen Pals wanted column of the local newspaper. I wrote friendly letters and sent tracts. There were interesting responses but none which resembled a call.
CHILE COMES INTO FOCUS
Mr. Stenhouse visited Vancouver and he spoke of the need in Chile. The year we were married, I transferred to the Meteorology office, and later became an Air Traffic Controller at the Vancouver airport. The future was secure, the pay was good, and from the world's standpoint, I was set for the next twenty-five years at which time AT Controllers could retire.
Early in the 1950's, brethren Bill Funston, founder of HORIZONS magazine, and Basil Boyd started a missionary prayer meeting in Mr. Funston's home. If no missionary was visiting the city, they asked different brethren to obtain information and give a report on some mission field. Argentina was first, then Brazil and then they chose Chile as the next country. They asked me to do the presentation. I used missionary magazine reports as a data source to speak of the land that would become our adopted home. This caused an increase in our missionary exercise.
Later, brother William McBride, who laboured in Chile, visited Vancouver and brother Funston invited people to his home to have a visit with him. Brother Funston insisted on us staying for a while to chat and left me alone with brother McBride in a room. "Is there work for Air Traffic Controllers in Chile?" I enquired. It was not a logical question, for such sensitive positions are in the hands of nationals and furthermore, I couldn't speak Spanish. "Anyone going to Chile goes to work full-time in the Lord's work", was the clear reply.
Further contact with brother McBride produced an exercise of soul. He asked me to pronounce some Spanish words and once he left Vancouver, he bought a self-help book called Hugo's Spanish Simplified. He sent it to me by mail with a note saying "Perhaps this book will be of some interest to you". Were we being nudged towards service for the Lord in Chile? We had purchased a home and our first daughter was soon to be born and these were considerations we would have to take into account.
PRAYING FOR GUIDANCE
My wife and I had been praying for some indication from God, and had set a time limit as we waited upon God. If there was no guidance by a certain month, we would conclude that our labours were to continue in the Vancouver area. The book arrived about four days before the time period ended.
Different texts of Scripture seemed to speak to us but Exodus 33 was particularly precious. It was when Moses was faced with a decision. He said, "(13) Now therefore, I pray thee, if I have found grace in thy sight, shew me now thy way, that I may know thee, that I may find grace in thy sight: ... (14) And he said, My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest (15) And he (Moses) said unto him (Jehovah), If thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence." This seemed to sum up our feelings.
Around this time, brother Funston asked me how long I was thinking of staying at the airport and counseled me about serving the Lord abroad. I told him of some indications I had received so he urged us to make our exercise known to the brethren at South Main Gospel Hall. We had to sell the house to pay the fare for the boat trip down to Chile. We would feel confirmed if the house sold, and if it didn't sell by the end of August, 1959, we would take it off the market. On the second last day of the month, a Greek man with a Russian wife who had arrived the day before from Australia purchased our dwelling and by October, we obeyed the different indicators God had given us to leave homeland, loved ones, and job security. We arrived November 14th, 1959 at the port of Valparaíso.
In the Conversion of an individual and a Call to the work, God uses different circumstances to make His will known. I thank God for godly parents, exercised elders, and an interested missionary whose input into our lives helped us detect God's will as He called us to serve Him. Working with others in Gospel activities in the local assembly also contributed to our spiritual formation and experience in serving with others.
We thank God that our four children are all saved and along with their spouses, are active in local churches. During the forty years we have served the Lord in Chile, we recognize the value of the lessons learned before we left and for the counsel given. Arnold Adams, who had served the Lord in Cuba, wrote, "I am glad that you have decided to stop directing people from the heavens to land on earth, and now will show people the way to leave earth and go to Heaven". And the decision about being a pilot, or a radio announcer, and travelling? The Lord allowed me to work in Air Traffic Control and I also obtained my private pilot's license. Instead of worldly music being presented on radio, the Lord has given me the opportunity to produce a 15-minute daily gospel program which has been on the air since 1963 in Chile. Furthermore, we traveled to one of the two countries in the world considered to be in the "uttermost part of the earth" from Jerusalem. May God be praised.
David Jones' radio program can be found at http://www.palabrasdevida.cl