When Kathrine’s baby girl was only a few days old, she did something she told no one about—not her mother, nor her sisters, not even her baby’s father. She kept her action a secret for decades.
They were not easy decades. The family endured poverty—especially in the early years—faced serious illness, and suffered other pressures. When little Theodora was six they moved from southern Saskatchewan to British Columbia’s Okanagan valley to start a new life. When Theodora was twelve years old, both parents were working outside the home and she was responsible to prepare the evening meal for the family.
Although her parents didn’t go to church, her mother encouraged Theodora to attend church. She did and grew up fitting in with the Christian young people who thought she was a Christian too. Then, in her early teens, after hearing a sermon on hypocrisy, she realized she needed to have a personal relationship with Jesus. She gave herself wholeheartedly to God, and grew in faith and the knowledge of the Bible.
After graduating from high school, her plans to enter nurses’ training fell through, and her pastor persuaded her to consider going to Bible school instead. She enrolled, enjoyed her studies and made many life-long friends, graduating with honors after three years.
She was interested in serving God overseas as a missionary and decided to take a short course in Missionary Medicine and Dentistry at the Bible Institute of Los Angeles (now Biola university). Theodora was just a few weeks short of her 22nd birthday when Kathrine took her to the bus station for the long ride to Los Angeles. It was then that Kathrine finally confessed her secret.
“I have never told you, or anyone else,” she said, “but when you were a baby, only a few days old, I dedicated you to God to be a missionary.”
Kathrine went on to tell her daughter that she had prayed for her every day even before she was born, but didn’t want to risk bringing any pressure on her until God Himself had led her to decide to become a missionary.
“Now that you have graduated from Bible school and are on your way to special missionary training, I thought it was right to tell you.”
The following year Kathrine became my mother-in-law when Josephine Theodora became my wife.
And what a mother-in-law! Kathrine was eighteen years old and pregnant when she began praying for her baby. She prayed for her daughter right through her childhood years, her college training, her marriage, raising her three granddaughters and her ministry as a pastor’s wife, and as a Bible translator.
Just a few years before the Lord took Kathrine Home to be with Him, she had the privilege of sitting next to her daughter as she distributed the newly published translation of God’s Word in Canela to eager new believers.
Asked about how she felt at that time, Kathrine replied, “It was hard to have my only daughter and her family live so far away for four years at a time. I missed seeing my granddaughters grow up. I longed for them. But when I saw the joy on the faces of those Canela people as they received a Bible, it was worth it. Oh yes, it was worth it!”
Yes, Kathrine was a prayerful, loving mom, mother-in-law, and grandma.
She reminds me of a list I once saw. “Ten Success Rules for Men” I don’t remember the other nine rules, but the first one was, “Marry the right woman.” I would put this one next, “Have a godly mother-in-law.”
Happy Mothers and Mothers-in-Law Day!