Our New Family

PDF Print E-mail

I was born back in 1948. It was a good time to be born in America, the good old USA. World War II had just ended.  The atomic bomb had been set off and the cold war was just beginning.  I grew up hearing about the Iron Curtain. I am part of the famous Baby Boomer generation.

I was the last of 6 children, all of whom were considerably older than me.  Unfortunately my 5 older siblings were raised during the great depression.  Mom and Dad suffered through that Great Depression and raised their family.  Like any other families they had good times and bad times.  By the time I arrived they had moved into the home that would be their home the rest of their lives.

I wasn’t born into a particularly church-minded home.  It was a good home, but it was not a home where the Bible was talked about much.  My parents, both only children, came from opposite teachings.  My mom was raised by loving adopted parents; one was Roman Catholic and the other Protestant.  As a girl she was raised in the Protestant background and did not have much knowledge of the Catholic faith. My dad had one parent, his mother, who took care of her son the best she could.  She worked when most moms stayed at home.  When he was seven he acquired a step-dad.  I don’t know for sure, but I don’t believe church attendance was a requirement for him.

My mom saw to it that all of us had an acquaintance with the Church.  I always wanted to go, but getting there meant calling my sister and asking if I could go with her family. Daddy wasn’t big on providing the transportation especially since someone else was headed that way. Mom always felt she needed to be home Sundays to cook Sunday dinner which was very acceptable to Dad. Because I was one of those kids in the church they used to talk about whose parents didn’t bring them, I wasn’t sure I was wanted there.

To me though, my dad and my mother were the two greatest people in my life. Even though they didn’t attend church they did teach me how to treat other people. They showed me what love really was.  They taught me the Ten Commandments.  My mama taught me how to pray and sang hymns with me, and always encouraged me to trust God.

When I was a fifth grader my school teacher was a godly lady who would read a Bible story to us before lessons began.  We would start the day with the pledge to the flag, the Lord’s prayer and a Bible story. Imagine that! Times have really changed. Of all my school career, that was the best year ever, even though the story of the Passover scared me a lot (Angel of Death and all that ).

What I knew about the Bible wasn’t very much and I wanted to know.  I was a teenager when I made a decision to find out about God. My grandmother on my mother’s side, widowed by now, lived in our garage that Dad had made over into a nice little house.  She had always attended church somewhere. She used to have preachers and missionaries in for chicken dinners on Sundays after church.  She was the real deal.

Since she lived so close now and was going to church anyway, I thought it would be good to go with her.  Of course, daddy didn’t commit to take her every Sunday, so the preacher and his wife would drive all the way out to the country to pick both of us up.  It was a good time.  I heard the gospel preached and sometimes I felt the Spirit drawing me although I wasn’t sure how to respond.

Then at age 15 my grandmother died.  I went a few times after but I was right back to needing a ride, and I missed Grandma, so I just went occasionally.

I finished high school and started Business College.  I was 18 but I still didn’t have a license, a car, or a friend with a car.  I rode to school every morning with a man who lived in my community, a church man, imagine that.  I’m sure he talked some about his church and maybe even his faith, I honestly can’t recall.

One beautiful bright October morning the year I was 18 he picked me up for school. We traveled out of our way to take his wife to work before heading downtown.  We had just dropped her off, I was sitting behind him but got out of the car and went around to the front passenger seat and got in.  He said “what’s the matter kiddo you don’t want to be chauffeured this morning and I said  “no”.  We went up the highway a little piece and were struck between the doors on the driver’s side by a Jeep Waggoner. My neighbor was killed instantly; I walked away with a dislocated thumb and a gashed knee, and a memory.

Three weeks later, I had just gotten back to school; my dad picked me up and drove home on a rainy foggy November evening. It was Election Day.  We came around a curve and down a slight hill right into the back of a little car that was waiting for a corn picker to pass so she could make a left turn. Thankfully dad wasn’t hurt badly except for bruises and bumps. I will never forget the look on his face when he looked in my direction.  I only saw him for a second but that glance was full of fear and concern.  It was only a second because the warm blood coming from my forehead made me shut my eyes.  Luckily we hit a carload of nurses, brand new nurses, who knew what to do and they did it. They took me off to the hospital that night and I stayed there for the next five nights.  My forehead required 57 stitches and I broke my foot.  Other than that I was okay.  Of course I wasn’t too thrilled to get back in a car right away. You know my dad made sure I got to court for the first wreck and all the doctor’s appointments that winter. 
And guess who came to my house that Sunday to encourage me and let me know she cared?  My fifth grade teacher.

The night of the second accident I wanted to see Grandma’s pastor.  Mama called him and in spite of working all day and the weather being so nasty, he and his wife came.  He was truly concerned about me, this little 18 year old girl. I remember asking him some questions that night and he answered me.  Before he left that night he prayed with me and he gave me the Gospel of John, just a little paperback book.

It was a hard winter. I refused to go back to school.  I didn’t want to go anywhere in an automobile.  But I did want to go to church.  I asked my dad if he would take me.  He not only took me but he and mom went with me.  It was hard for him and I think the old devil made it harder. I saw him one Sunday morning getting the car out of the garage, it was icy, and before he made it to the garage he fell. He was wearing dress shoes.  That didn’t set too well with him and it seemed a good enough excuse not to go.  We went that Sunday anyway but I know somewhere along the line we got off the track again.

In the spring that year I started attending a little church close to home.  I sort of decided that if I was going to go to church it would be in my own community.  It helped of course that my 11 year old niece wanted me to go with them to church to help her make points for some contest.  I t was there I really heard the gospel for the first time with some sort of understanding.

A while later I took a job working in a rest home “nursing home”, the grave-yard shift.  Working those hours meant a lot of quiet time.  I carried my little Gospel of John with me and would read it while the resident’s slept. I read it over and over again.

I’ll tell you when you couple “the Word” with good sound preaching it opens the door for the Spirit of God to work, and He did.

March 2, 1969 – that’s the day I will always remember.  I heard the preacher but I couldn’t tell you what he spoke about.  I knew the week before that my time had come.  I heard the voice of the Spirit calling me to Christ.  It was Him.  I knew in my heart I believed what the Bible said about Him was true.  I knew that my life would never be right until I asked Him to forgive me, to come into my heart and to make me a new creature in Him and I did.  I didn’t kneel because I wasn’t sure I should.  Two ladies of the church came and stood with me that morning. One was my fifth grade teacher. She had remained faithful all those years.

That morning when I walked out of the church I said to my brother-in-law that I didn’t think the sun had every shown brighter.  The weather wasn’t that great that day, but I could only see the brightness around me.

That was 37 years ago. I was 21 years of age.  God has been good to me.  I can truly tell you He has never failed me even though there have been times I feel that I’ve failed him.

The Lord saved my parents. He stood with me when they went home to be with Him.

Dad went first but not without confessing the Lord as his savior.  God allowed my mom and me to spend the next 15 years enjoying each other’s company. We continued to live as we always had in the same house.  We attended church together and shared our lives with each other.  Losing her was hard.  Everything I had ever said I believed was put to the test.  I think I failed all of them but the Lord never failed me.  He even prepared me for her loss by giving me the gift of a wonderful husband to care for me here on this earth and a family to carry me through.

God has been good to me.  I have friends I never dreamed I would have. I have a family I never dreamed I would have.  I have everything I need and I do not live in fear.  He has given my life purpose; He has given me a reason for living. He has allowed me to sing for Him and serve Him. He’s brought people into my lives that have blessed me beyond measure. He saved me from a sad, lonely life.

He is who the Bible says He is. He is my provider, my protector, and the lover of my soul and I praise Him with all I have. I belong to Him and I don’t want it any other way.

From that day in 1969 I remained a faithful member of that congregation. I was even blessed to be the one asked to give the eulogy at my former teacher’s funeral. And it was very difficult to leave that congregation, but it was time. In our search for a new church Heritage was the first church we checked out.  At first, it was just evenings, but it wasn’t long until this became our church home; and the people here, our new family.

The little church I attended with my grandmother was the Maumee Church of God on Sackett Street.  The pastor’s name was Geo.Kujawski (the father of Walter, Jim and Louis). When I first came to Heritage and discovered Rev Kujawski’s sons worshipped here it was like confirmation that I belonged here too.

Barb Bernhard
Worship Team