'We found the missing piece of our family story - 42 years after Grandpa died'

Marlene’s story | Waiting a long, long time for answered prayers

“My sister and I both grew up with a belief in God. We went to church. We believed in Jesus. And from when we were both young, we would talk about prayer. What is prayer? How can we understand it? How does God work through our prayers?”

“I remember reading the words of Jesus and being intrigued: ‘Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.’ (Luke 11:9)

“Then our Grandpa died when I was 13. He was the most amazing man. We adored him. He had a heart attack and was gone, with no warning at all … and we weren’t allowed to go to the funeral. Six months later, our father died as well. It was very hard. We felt like we lost that whole side of our family. Our mother didn’t cope very well. She couldn’t talk about our father or Grandpa, or visit their graves. It was as if they disappeared from our lives and a huge piece of our family story was lost.

“Years went by. We both got married and we had our own children, but we both longed to find out more about our father and grandfather. So I began to search. I went to the library and frantically hunted through rolls of microfiche films, and then genealogy books and then the internet. I prayed to God that we could find something … but for years we didn’t find anything at all. And I know that God doesn’t answer every prayer in the way we want. Many times we struggle for answers.

“For all those years, I prayed to God that I could find out something about them, but I also knew there was so much need in the world. Why would God care about my family tree when there were so many people with much greater needs than mine?

“Then in 2013, I had an idea. We knew that Grandpa had grown up in Birmingham, UK. I decided to phone everyone in England with the same surname as our Grandpa. I clearly remember stopping and praying. I gave it all to God. Then I found the online UK White Pages, and with a prayer on my lips and a pounding heart, I began dialling. The first two numbers answered and told me there were no connections. Then on the third number, an old man answered. He was extremely hard of hearing, so I began my spiel even louder, saying that I was looking for relatives of my grandfather. There was a slight pause on the other end, a little softening of the old man’s voice and with real emotion he replied, ‘I am your uncle!’

“I was so overcome with emotion. I could hardly speak. The old man, Jack, recalled stories about our grandfather. He had photos of him. He knew about us! The next year, we both flew over to England to meet Jack in person. He was 99 years old and living in a nursing home. We walked in and we fell into each other’s arms. We were all crying. Jack had adored our Grandpa as much as we had. We had found our family and the missing piece of our family story. And in the process, God granted us a pathway to healing … 42 years after Grandpa died.

“And now, as I share this, I’ve come to believe that God does answer every prayer, it’s just that he doesn’t always do it the way we might see, or in our timing, or understanding. He sees some things differently. He is God, after all.”

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

Bible verse Luke 11 9

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