Sunday, Port Dover and the Spoelders’…

Sunday morning at Bethany Missionary Church, St. Catharines, Ontario

Sunday morning we went off to Debbie and Ernie’s church, Bethany Missionary Church. By Canadian standards, it’s a large church of about twelve hundred over the weekend. Surprisingly, the guest speaker was the son of Don and Marion Mills who we knew some thirty or more years ago. Don pastored in a sister church Carleton Place, Ontario until he accepted a call to a “Evangelical Missionary Church” at Wilmot Centre and left our area. Later we learned that he had contracted cancer and after a long season went on to be with the Lord. On this morning we were pleased to hear their son (also a pastor) deliver the morning message. Don would have been pleased.

Left to right: John, Ernie, Tony, Angie, Debbie, Jeanne

Soon after the benediction we were on our way to meet the Spoelders’ for lunch some hour and a half away at Port Dover. We hadn’t seen John and Angie in about twenty years. Their family of two boys are all grown, married and on their own.

At about twenty-five years of age, John was brought to our house by the wife of a doctor in Merrickville. First, she called us to say that she wanted him to come see us but he wouldn’t do it and would I come to office and see if I could coax him over? He had just come from the hospital after an overdose of drugs she thought might have been intentional. He needed help. Though I had never met John once I laid eyes on him I knew that I had seen him around town. He was a tall Dutchman with thick glasses. After some “how do ya do’s” I invited him to follow me over to the house for a cup of coffee.

Following me over in his car, he came in and sat on the couch. Though he had no concept of the meaning of either Christmas or Easter he knew our reputation for being “Jesus Freaks” he kept an emotional distance. It appeared to me that he just wanted to have his cup of coffee and then he would go and try to kill himself again.

At the same time, my dad and mom were visiting from us from Oklahoma. My dad had one arm and I noticed this caught John’s attention though he didn’t ask any questions. It seemed to put him at ease. He, obviously hadn’t been the only one in the room that had a problem.

Doing my best to get to the gospel, I stuck a cup of coffee in his hand and went to work on using my tried and proven lures. When these didn’t seem to break through his despair, I began dragging out several young guys who had received Christ after a number of years addicted to various kinds of drugs. One after the other they told their stories but then my dad, now into his seventies, broke into the conversation saying something like this, “Well, John, I never did smoke any of that “mary-ju-wana.” I don’t know a thing about it but it looks to me like you’re carrying a big load on your shoulders. How would you like to unload it a leave it all at the foot of the cross and never pick it up again?” It just seemed that simple to me. John looked over at my dad and finally said this, “I can be saved. I’m being saved! I’m saved!” and with this he stood to his feet. We all thought he was just trying to get it over with and move on but that was thirty-three years ago and has John ever moved on? He married Angie, had two children, moved a few times and then ended up in a small town near Port Dover. Ernie and Debbie arranged for us to meet and enjoy a long overdue lunch.

Ernie picked a hotel well-known for fish served family style. After all of the hugs we sat down to a good meal, walked around Lake Erie for a bit and drove over to their house for a swim. It’s always good to see seed settle on good soil and produce fruit.

“Then after some days Paul (Tony) said to (Jeanne), “Let us now go back and visit our brethren in every city where we have preached the word of the Lord, and see how they are doing.”

                                                Acts 15:36

Back to St. Catharines and preparing to leave the next morning for Georgian Bay and the Frankish cottage.

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