‘I don’t think we ever despaired’

Pauline’s story | The strength of God to continue

“My parents grew up in Indonesia and they were both prisoners of war during WW11. They survived and were released after three and a half years. Dad was so thin his parents didn’t recognise him. After meeting each other, my parents married and later moved to Australia. Dad always had a desire to go back to Indonesia as a missionary. He studied for the ministry, but there was never a role for him in Indonesia.

He entered the ministry, then later set up the Bible League in Australia, travelling and preaching in a lot of places. My parents’ faith had a huge impact on all of us. They were faithful, prayerful and resilient. They lived it out! It always gave me strength, especially through the hard times.

My sister Ruth died in a car accident in 1984. In 2001, I was pregnant with our third child (a boy) and we found out that he had a diaphragmatic hernia. All of his abdominal contents had moved into his chest cavity. The doctors said that only 50 per cent of these children survive birth, often with significant health complications. We struggled. It was a really difficult pregnancy, full of heartache. The best thing was the music at church, which was amazing. It always pointed me to eternity and made me cry. The prayers of our friends and family and neighbours also got me through. They kept praying that God would give us the strength to cope with whatever he gave us.

Reuben survived. It was a miracle. My husband took seven months off work and we looked after Reuben full time. He was hooked up to many tubes and had blood transfusions and operations to put all his organs back in place. Reuben was fed initially by a nasogastric tube, then a duodenal tube and later, a gastrostomy. I expressed milk every three or four hours for the first year and a half. Our days would begin at 6am and finish at 1am. Reuben didn’t eat food until he was three. It became our whole world – medical staff, hospitals and specialists, but I don’t think we ever despaired. We felt a peace I can’t describe. I would often think about eternity.

Jesus said, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God, believe also in me. My father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?” (John 14:1-2)

It’s true today. None of us knows when God will call us home but we can experience peace now. We can be thankful for each day, relying on God. He will give us the strength to continue. It’s taught me to be more prayerful and compassionate. It’s helped me to understand people who go through similar things. God shapes us through trials, and we never know what will happen next or what opportunities God will give us.

Reuben is well now. He ran a marathon two years ago! Meanwhile, my dad moved into a nursing home in 2012. We went to visit him there, and one day, he was really excited. He was 85 and he had recently gotten in touch with a printer in Jakarta, Indonesia. Together, they had been able to start printing Bibles and other Christian books for believers in Indonesia. It was amazing! It was 60 years since he and mum had lived there … and it was all he could talk about in his nursing-home bed. Finally, in his eighties, his dream of sharing God’s word to Indonesians was realised. “God is always at work!””

Pauline’s story is part of Eternity’s Faith Stories series, compiled by Naomi Reed. Click here for more Faith Stories.

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