I am the young girl who looked at the conditions of life around me and decided that training in social work would best prepare me to serve my Lord. But the Father in Heaven taught me that the heart of the city is the heart of the soul. “The heart is deceitful and desperately wicked.” Then, I knew that the only cure for this world was I John 1.7: “And the blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanseth us from all sin.”
After completing my school work at Wheaton College, I said to my Father in heaven, “Lord, what will you have me to do?” With real assurance in my heart, I opened my Bible for His guidance, and my eyes fell on these words in Acts 9:16, “Go into the city and it shall be told thee what thou must do.” For a year, after that Word of promise, I worked here in the Twin Cities, and prayed daily for guidance. God has blessed me with a song in my heart and a song on my lips. One night, I was called to go with a church group to sing in a mission in the Gateway, I was tired though-too tired to work for my Lord-so I turned the invitation down. It was like refusing to go to dark Africa as a missionary, so great was the conviction of sin. ” He that is faithful in little is faithful in much,” spoke the still small voice in my heart. So, I obeyed the Lord and went to sing at the mission. There is a real truth in the saying that small decisions lead to great decisions.
There was something familiar about the rescue mission. I had the feeling that this was not my last visit. At the door stood a little lady. She smiled cheerfully with her personal invitation to all. “Good night, come back to the meeting again tomorrow night.” I had almost forgotten the incident when several weeks later I received another telephone call. It was a personal invitation from the smaller little lady, Miss Sandvik, to come down to the mission and sing again. Mission work in the slums began to appeal to me. My interests and devotion were drawn to this area in Minneapolis which is dismal and most sinful. God was calling me to work in the city. One night several months later, Miss Sandvik asked me if I didn’t feel called to work full-time in such a work. She had been praying for a helper; one who could work with her, and one who was vitally interested in the spiritual, social and physical welfare of these needy people. That is why I am here. ~Reprinted from Revival of Skid Row May 1950
Looking back now after 60 years – “We spend our years as a tale that is told” (Psalm 90:9). What a glorious life it has been serving the Lord, ministering to the needy What a fulfilled life! “He that loses his life shall surely find it” (Matthew 10:39), is so true. Every day has proven so precious! Opportunities to win people to the Lord have been countless.
A few years ago, I discovered a special philosophy of life about our work that amazed me. In my first years at the Mission (and we remodeled three of them), a small, ragged, undernourished boy and his drunken mother walked by our building on the way to the bar on the corner every night all summer. Tugging on her soiled old dress, he kept saying, “Mother, let’s go in here, it’s so clean and nice. The people are so kind.” One night he pulled her so hard that she fell into the doorway flat on her face and vomited. The boy continued to attended services here every night for many years. The father had already died of syphilis and cirrhosis of the liver. The brother was in a mental institution and the sister later committed suicide. The family lived in utter squalor and filth in a dirt floor basement hovel. In spite of all of this, the boy met the finest of Christian people at the Mission who befriended him. He grew up to be a fine Christian man, clean, well dressed and well-mannered. Educated as a chef, later in life he was chosen to make and serve breakfast to President Ford at a hotel in California.
We give away countless numbers of quilts made by church women. I call it, “a foot in the door for the Lord.” Several years ago, a group of women brought quilts with their president. In our conversation, the president inquired, “Did you ever remember a girl named Ingeborg?” “Did we ever,” we said. “We met her some time ago again as a young lady, working her way through school to be a nurse. She was a little girl invited on Christmas Eve by one of our converts. Home to her was a cold, dirty flat and a drunk mother. No father. We remember the beautiful hat, mittens and scarf set given to her for a present.” And then the lovely church leader cried and said to us. “And I was her mother; I came home late that night and was deeply touched by the gift. We both cried to the Lord to save us and deliver me from my drinking.” Ingeborg later became a registered nurse, and a Bible teacher.
In our work, we constantly influence children, women and men for the Lord. We may not be able to give them a beautiful home, but we can lead them to a new life in Christ, surround them with our love, and alleviate much of their poverty. We give them a new life style, a Christian community, a spiritual influence and Bible training. After 60 years, I have watched several generations grow up, move out of the area, and become useful Christian workers, thus proving to the world that the new life in Christ makes the real difference.