‘And for all that time, I kept praying for Alfred’
Yvonne’s story | Giving up our own will
“I grew up in a small country town in NSW called Adelong. My parents were from Lebanon and my father owned the general store. I always felt I had a calling to serve God, and when I was 16, I started running the Sunday school. Later I met my husband Alfred and we got married. He was from Lebanon and he owned a corner store in Sydney … so I moved 300 miles and we ran the store there.
But it meant I couldn’t get to church. Alfred used to open the store every day of the week. I felt like I was letting God down. Then the 1959 Billy Graham crusade happened and I watched the whole thing on the television in the store. I recommitted my life to Jesus and I had tears running down my cheeks and I understood forgiveness.
But Alfred still didn’t think it was necessary to go to church. In 1964, we went back to Lebanon. It meant that I could go to Jerusalem! We drove to Damascus, Jordan, everywhere! I couldn’t believe my eyes. We were there at Easter time and it was so exciting! But Alfred didn’t know why I was so excited. Then we came back to Sydney and we bought another two corner shops. Alfred closed the shop on Sundays so I could go to church, but he still didn’t want to come himself.
Through all that time, we were desperate to have children and we couldn’t fall pregnant. I remember one night back in 1962, I had a dream. Someone in white said, “Your child will be born on July 1.” I jumped up in bed and said, “What year?”
The years went by and nothing happened. In 1965, we started looking into adoption and we applied in February that year. Usually, with adoptions, it takes many years. But the phone rang in July 1965 and they said, “Your child has come.” His name was Michael and he was born on July 2, just after midnight. He was the most beautiful boy, the greatest blessing to us. We loved him to death. And all that time, I kept praying for Alfred, that he would believe in Jesus.
Then one day, in the early 1970s, Alfred came to an evangelistic meeting. We were sitting in the middle of a long row and the building was full. When the altar call came, I gave Alfred a nudge. On previous occasions, I had given him a nudge and he said it made him sit there harder. But that time, something happened to him. Something lifted him out of that seat and took him past all those people. Alfred went forwards and he committed himself to Jesus. He was 50 by then. It’s never too late! From that day on, he had a thirst for Jesus. He wanted what I had.
It taught me that I had to be changed first. I thought I had it all together and I was doing everything right. But one day (not long before the evangelistic meeting), I realised I had to repent and ask God for forgiveness. I had to leave Alfred up to God. And God worked in his life. That was 50 years ago now. But giving up our own will is very hard. Believe me, it’s hard. We come out of the womb willful and we stay that way. We have to let God transform us, slowly.
Alfred has been gone now for 13 years. He became one of the best wardens our church ever had. He knew the Bible backwards. And I was able to teach Scripture for 43 years. If Alfred hadn’t come to the Lord, I would never have had that ministry. We also ran a prayer ministry in our house for 30 years and I visited three nursing homes every week. I’ve loved everything I could do for the Lord!
My favourite scripture is in 1 Corinthians 10:13: “No temptation has come to you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful …” God will transform us! He will keep helping us to endure it. And God will bless us back a hundredfold if we love him. That’s what has happened to me. Honestly, it’s so exciting!”
Yvonne’s story is part of Eternity’s Faith Stories series, compiled by Naomi Reed. Click here for more Faith Stories.