Was blind but now I see

Yesterday I met a man who prayed for my salvation over thirty-five years ago, when we were both students at the same college.

Until yesterday I had not known that he had been praying for me, and he had not realized that his prayer had been answered.

Back in the 1970s, I was a spiritually hungry but very confused young man. I was studying theology at Queen’s Theological College in Kingston, Ontario, which only served to increase my state of confusion. Most of the faculty and students did not really know what they believed. However, they were quick to mock anyone who claimed to be born again, or who articulated a simple faith in the Lordship of Jesus and the Bible as the Word of God, or who said they had been “saved”. Sadly, I joined in the general chorus of mockery. How foolish and arrogant we were in our presumed wisdom.

I do remember, though, that there were a few students at QTC who were different from the rest. Ken was one of the ones who stood out. He had a confident faith which he expressed with respect but without apology. I wouldn’t have said so at the time, but looking back I realize that Ken scared me. It wasn’t that he himself was a scary guy. He was intelligent, polite, and well-spoken. It was his confident, well-grounded faith that scared me, because it challenged the core assumptions of my life. In particular, Ken challenged my prideful assumption that I did not need anyone to save me. I thought I knew so much and had so many answers, but in reality I had no answers at all, and knew nothing about the things that really mattered. I wanted spiritual truth, but I wanted it on my own terms. I was not yet ready to surrender my will to anyone. Still, I remember being hungry for the peace and assurance that I saw in people like Ken, even though at the time I would not have had the words to say so.

I was part of the graduating class of 1977 at QTC, although I hung around for a couple more years and did further studies while my wife finished her degree. Ken likewise graduated, and having been refused for ordination in the United Church because he was unwilling to compromise his convictions on baptism, he was ordained as a Free Methodist pastor. We had not been close while at college, and I never expected to see him again.

Fast forward ten years to 1987.  By this point I was married with two children, and trying to be a pastor, all the while still trying to convince myself that I had answers. The truth was that I had no answers at all. Any fragments of truth or wisdom that I did understand were of no real value to me or anyone else, because I lacked the One who holds all things together. But God had prepared salvation for me. Through the loving ministry of the Anglican pastor in our village, a faithful and intelligent man of God, I finally surrendered my pride and accepted Jesus as Lord of my life.

Fast forward another twenty-five years to 2012.  Through a mutual friend I discovered that a fellow by the name of Ken Roth was pastoring a Free Methodist church in Stittsville. I remembered his name from college and decided to contact him.

It must have been the Holy Spirit that prompted me to get in touch with Ken, because when we finally got together for coffee and a chat at the One Way Ministries office, both of us were encouraged, humbled and amazed at the goodness of God.

Ken told me that back in his days at Queen’s he used to go into the chapel almost every day to pray for the other students and faculty at the college. As one of the only students at QTC who honoured the integrity and power of the gospel of Jesus Christ, he must have been incredibly lonely. Life at Queen’s must have been a huge battle for him. Yet he didn’t give in to the temptation to become bitter or arrogant. He remained gentle, humble and truthful in his dealings with his fellow students and faculty, and (as I learned yesterday) he remained faithful to the hidden ministry of intercession.

As one who has been waking up to the realization that intercessory prayer is one of God’s major callings on this season of my life, I found this tremendously moving and motivating. I was humbled and amazed to realize how faithful Ken had been in praying for all of us so many years ago, and even more so, how faithful God had been. I had the amazing privilege of telling Ken that at least in my life, the prayers he had prayed more than thirty-five years previously had found an answer.

I believe he was encouraged. I know I was.



12 thoughts on “Was blind but now I see”

  1. Thanks for the very encouraging story, Peter. I have been realizing my own need to pray in greater depth and length for myself and others.

  2. My grandmother on my mother’s side and my grandfather on my dad’s side prayed for their kids and their grandchildren. Although my mother and I are the only answers to their prayers to date, my family continues to bear that torch.
    Good testimony Peter!

  3. Hi Peter,

    Once again your posting sharpened and encouraged me. I was also reminded of my Mom’s persistent prayer for my Dad. My Mom grew up in a Christian home and for an inexplicable reason she fell in love and married my Dad who was a devote Moslem. Dad did not raise any objection to my Mom’s decision to send my sisters, my brother Isaac and I to Christian schools and to church.

    Unknown to Dad, Mom encouraged us (the children) to pray for Dad’s salvation. Unlike Mom, we were not as consistent, in our prayer, for Dad despite the occational reminder from Mom.

    She prayed and invited Dad to the times me and my sibblings were baptised and when we received confirmation, as teenagers, according to the custom of the Presbytarian Church. Mom’s prayer for Dad went on untill I left home for McGill University, in 1977, after my B.Sc. program at the University of Ghana.

    On a cold December evening, in 1978, my elder sister Peace, called to inform me that our Dad had converted to the Christian religion. I could hardly contain my joy and praise, to the Lord, when I received the message.

    Dad went on to served the good Lord with the same zeal and eagerness that characterized his years as a Moslem. I am grateful to know that both Mom and Dad have departed to be with the Lord.

    Ken, my Mom and countless number of Christians show us that persistence in prayer, whether intercessory or other forms, should be a part of the believer’s “arsenal.”

    We should also pay attention to and be encouraged by the Apostle Paul’s admonition on prayer in Ephesians 6:18, “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.”

  4. Hi Stephen, thanks for your comments. It’s always good to hear from you. I appreciate the effort you make to offer thoughtful comments especially considering the difficulties that you have with your eyesight.

    On a different (but related) note, it would be great if you, Vera and Malaika could come to our life group potluck this Wednesday. This will be the last gathering of this particular life group as the Lord is leading the elders to plant new “neighbourhood churches” in different parts of the city, in place of the current life groups. I’d be glad to come meet with you, Vera and Malaika to explain this further if you haven’t heard about it yet. Sunday meetings will still continue as at present for the time being.

    “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” Hebrews 10:24-25.

  5. Hi Peter:
    I am not much of a Facebooker because I have trouble keeping up with my regular email. I happened to sign up on Facebook just to be part of a dialogue group about city transformation. However, Peter, you finding me through Facebook showed me a great benefit of it. Nevertheless, I don’t check for messages on it very much and so this morning, when I discovered that you had sent me a message I immediately read it and was very encouraged.

    As you may know, intercession is hard work. It sure tests your faith because many times you must keep praying with no visible evidence that those prayers (and actions) are making a difference. Thank you, Peter, for so eloquently sharing your journey to faith in Christ. I hope to share that story with many others to encourage them. I also will be sharing your story as well, Stephen. That moved me deeply as well.

    Peter, just hearing you so boldly talk about your relationship with God is so refreshing to me. As you mentioned, QTS was such a place of confusion. It is wonderful to hear you giving a sure and clear sounding of the gospel in this world that is full of a cacophony of false gospels.

  6. Hi Ken, I’m so glad that you were encouraged. Our meeting a couple of weeks ago was a real blessing to me. Thanks for your prayers so many yaers ago, and for your faithfulness through the years. Blessings.

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