One night in 2008, I happened upon a website called Christian pen pals. Out of curiosity I made a pen pal ad. I wanted to be friends with other Christian women who held my values and beliefs. As soon as I saw the picture of Sarah, I knew she was different.
We began emailing back and forth and found out we had similar tastes in music, TV shows, and a love for books. We both longed to have close friendships with others, who wouldn’t reject us for our belief in God. It has been seven years, and we are still in contact and closer than ever. Ours is a friendship forged in heaven. We can bare our souls, our faults, and our weaknesses, and ask for prayer. We pray that God will fulfill his purpose in our lives. As you read this interview you will see just how special Sarah is to me. She shows mercy and compassion for anyone she is in contact with. She has endured hardships, but her faith keeps her going.
What is your name and age?
My name is Sarah, and I am 32 years old.
Where do you live?
I am a homegrown Canadian, who lives in southern Ontario.
How would you describe your childhood?
My childhood was something that impacted and shaped my entire life, including my career, personality and outlook on life. I grew up in the country, the eldest of five girls. Our lives were not easy, but we were always blessed.
Did you grow up in a Christian home?
My mother is a strong woman who did her best to provide and look after us. She raised us to follow God, to listen to his voice and to trust in his ways, even when we didn’t understand what took place in our lives. My parents divorced when I was 7 years old, and it was a time of struggle for all of us. We moved out of our small family home and moved to a new town. No longer could we go to our small church, or meet with our friends. My mother suffered with depression due to the changes that took place in our lives; and the things she struggled with we never knew about until later in life. Despite all these things, and all the pressures that she faced, my mother never lost her faith. There were times when it was low, and she struggled, she always believed, always had faith and always looked to God.
As a child, I knew that my father enjoyed drinking and using prescription medication in an abusive way. He cheated on my mother and moved in with the woman he would eventually marry. After we moved, my father stopped visiting us, which created insecurities and rejection within me. My mother did her best to help us through this time, and even with our lack of money, friends and the new environment, we had special times and memories that could never be replaced. My mom eventually remarried and had more children, but my stepfather presented more challenges within our family. These challenges (mental health and addictions) helped prepare me for the work I was to do as an adult.
I work at a homeless shelter and care center, where I am a Hostel Support Worker. My duties include working with young boys and men who are chemically dependent. I must have sound judgment in order to address their needs and how they need to be helped. I work with guys between the ages of 16-35. We are doing our best to help them in finding safe housing (although not much is available). We also do our best to work with them in regards to their addictions, physical and mental health. Patience and compassion is key in my job, I respect and care for the people I was employed to help. I also help people with various degrees of mental illness. I refer them to organizations that can also help them such as Social Services. I also work with the youth. We do our best to figure out where they are in their lives. We connect them with services inside the city. We also try and get them into treatment if they need it, as well as group homes (if they are able) and help them get back into school.
What are your hobbies, interests?
I enjoy sci-fi movies and TV shows, as well as anything having to do with comics, heroes, history and things that make you think. I love all the foods that are bad for you, especially burgers and pizza. But, being a Canadian, I also enjoy a good poutine from time to time. You cannot live here without enjoying something from Tim Hortons, especially the coffee (which was lovingly described once as liquid gold by some visitors to our country).
What biblical characters do you most resemble and why?
I had to laugh at this question. I feel at times that I want to be like David, the man close to God’s heart or Moses, the man who spoke to God like no other. In reality, I believe I am closest to an Old Testament prophet, the one who says what does not want to be heard. In 1 Kings 22, King Ahab consults a prophet named Micaiah about a decision he must make. It does not go as planned, and he does not take the news well. At the current time, that is who I feel like.
Are you an introvert or extrovert?
Being an introvert, it helped to have many hobbies and interests that can be enjoyed by myself. I am an avid reader, especially anything having to do with history. History fascinates me in a way that I cannot describe. I believe God placed this hunger within me for some reason that someday will become apparent. Each time I read anything in history; I cannot but help compare it to the world we live in now. God also sprinkled in a lot of geekiness into the mix when he was creating me, so I also enjoy video games, movies and comics.
Where have you seen God work in your life?
Due to everything that took place in my life, I developed and cultivated skills God had given me. Over time, I realized that there was a reason my family and I went through all that we did. With all the difficulties that arose in my life and the life of my family, we were able to understand things that others could not fathom. We were able to work with difficult individuals, those with addictions and mental health issues. Almost all my siblings and I work in environments that others are afraid to be around. Over the years, God has given me gifts of mercy and of patience to continue my work, despite frustration and setbacks. It is only because of God that I am able to move forward, and still have a heart that yearns to help the poor, the sick, the vulnerable and the misunderstood.
God is my constant rock and help in times of trouble. There have been times where I have not walked where I should have, or made decisions that were not of him, but despite this, he is still with me. It is because of these times that I know the true love and forgiveness of our heavenly father. There were times when I was at the bottom, and wallowing in my sin, and he reached out. He picked me up, forgave me and helped me to move ahead. God is the reason I keep my sanity, the reason I am alive, and the hope for my future. He is my sun and moon and without him, I lack understanding, direction, grace and all that is good inside my life. God has a purpose for my life. I know that there is more that I am to accomplish, and each day I wake up and pray that I will walk the path that he has for me.
What brings you joy?
When I am helping others, it makes me happy. I hope someday to be able to do even more. I would love to be a missionary and travel the world. I want to teach others the word of God and feed the hungry, and clothe the poor.
Do you believe that God has given us each certain spiritual gifts?
I believe that God wants to do a work in each of our lives, that he has equipped each of us with gifts. As long as we listen to him and do our best to follow him, then he will speak to us and guide us. He will help us to understand our giftings and use them to share with those around us.
Do you believe that Christians are misunderstood?
As Christians, I feel that we are often misunderstood, but we also forget our place. As Christians, we are to be in the world, but not part of it. While we are to do our best to be at peace with those around us, we are also called to stand for what is right, what is holy and what is true. There will be times that this will cause the boat to rock, but God will always stand beside as we do so.
People in the world have such a negative view of Christians from all the things in the past and that are currently happening. Who are we to judge others? Who are we to despise and hate? Have people, especially Christians forgotten that God has called each of us to love everyone? That is what needs to happen. Leave everything else at the door, open your heart, let God’s love inside and share it with the world. Do it however you can, as long as you do it for God and with the help of the Holy Spirit.
What are things in your life that you want God to heal?
During school as a child, I experienced a lot of problems. I was never much of a talker and my introverted nature made me a target for bullies. I struggled all through grade school with bullies, not understanding why these children centered me out for pain and anger. It was not until I was homeschooled for a bit that I finally found a bit of peace and rest. All of these things compounded on me and led to me developing depression and a bad self-image. To this day, it is something that God and I are working on and overcoming together.