Ada: The 17-Year Journey
When I first met Ada, she was fairly amiable. She was in her late 70s or early 80s. Having been a farmer, her face was weathered. She was very self-centered and selfish. Her dislike for men included my husband. I perceived that the fact she had never married may have been connected to a slight deformity in one foot.
For years, she attended the meetings. I visited her personally every week. She was not a Christian and would only let me go so far in conversation about the Lord. Eventually, that turned into hostility which may have been because another volunteer had pummeled her pretty severely in her attempts at evangelism. I could chat with Ada, but her anger was so great that during one period of time, she was mildly violent toward me.
Yet, I visited her every week and talked only about the farm and the first car and how she won a piano but it wouldn’t fit in her little farmhouse, so it went to someone else. During these years, I prayed for an idea how to break through. Finally, that idea came. I asked her if I could at least pray with her before I left each week. She said, “Yes.” I knelt before her in her wheelchair and reached for her hands. She pulled them back. This stage lasted months and months. I prayed. One day, many months later, I reached for her hands and she let me hold them. I prayed. I was thankful.
After that, I introduced John 3:16 to the mix. She knew the verse but she did not know the Savior. We would do the chatting about the farm, and then I would say, “Okay, let’s say our verse.” Then we would pray. (I always did a little witnessing in my prayers!)
This stage went on for years. Once I prayed, “Lord, if I am getting somewhere here, please put it on Ada’s heart to give me something from the little stash of things she hoards in her drawer.” It wasn't that I wanted any of that little stash of trinkets. No, I knew that this would be an indication that she was "letting me in." One day she unfolded a napkin she had pulled from her drawer and handed me a pair of awful earrings. “Here, I want you to have these,” she said. I still have those earrings. They are a treasure. I started to see a softening. She even began to show some friendliness toward Ken.
One month before she died, at age 97, we sat in the hallway just doing what we always did. The stories of the farm and the stranded cows and the invention of the wheelchair that made moving her invalid dad around so much easier were first. Then we began our verse: "For God so loved the world…" we quoted, "…that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever"…she stopped abruptly…"that’s me!" she said brightly and with confidence…and then she went on.
I knew that she had passed from death to life. She had come to the moment in time where you go from not believing to believing and from not being able to say it to finally confessing with your mouth. She died one month later.
It took 17 years of faithful witness. Some of the time I did not want to go. I was depressed. Our financial situation was awful. There were times when our marriage was strained. Those times, I went out of duty. Other times, I went because “knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men.” Most of the time, I went because of my love for God and for the people at “my” nursing home.