Isaiah 6:8-9a “Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me. And he said, Go, and tell this people,”
I had my life all planned out. First, I wanted to be a land surveyor; they made good money and got to work in the fields and forests. That didn’t work out as I failed the math test in the entrance exam. I then wanted to join the RCMP. That didn’t work out either as I failed the medical entrance exam as I was too skinny. I then bought a set of barbells to build up my muscles to expand my chest so I could retake the medical. At least that’s what Art Kelloway, the constable in the detachment told me to do. I ended up injuring my collarbone for using excessive weight and the doctor told me to take a break to heal up. Inside I knew that joining the police force was not what God wanted for my life, but was what I was wanting to do. When I was young, God had given me the desire to tell others the good news of salvation and His hand was weighing upon me. I then moved to Moncton, New Brunswick to take welding at the Community College and then a year later I got a job at a welding and fabrication shop.
It was during this time when I was attending Emmanuel Baptist Church that evangelist Dr. Ron Comfort came to speak. It was on a Thursday night at the evangelistic meetings that Dr. Comfort said, “I’m going to do something different tonight that I have never done before. I’m going to give an invitation before I speak.” Everyone was invited to raise their hand if they would promise the Lord that if He spoke to their hearts in the message, they would respond to the invitation following. I raised my hand like most everybody did although deep inside I knew that I had made a promise to God; that night I would be surrendering my life to the Lord. Several other young people surrendered their lives to the Lord at that service as well and went on to serve the Lord.
In September of 1981 I began my theological studies at Victory Baptist Bible College in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. Prince Albert was known as the city where the prairies meet the pines. I loved Saskatchewan immensely and enjoyed my years there. It was there where I first sensed what -40 C feels like in January!
The Victory Baptist Bible College was a small Bible school in the Victory Baptist Church pastored by Dr. Raymond Dell. Dr. Dell and I hit it off right away and when he discovered that I was a welder, I spent almost every afternoon doing projects for the church and the school such as guard railings, soccer nets and pews for the church.
Jane Dell, the daughter of Pastor Raymond and Tena Dell, was a teacher in the Victory Christian Academy when I arrived in Prince Albert. Jane, growing up in a christian home had always found missions exciting due to the missionaries that came to the church and often to their home for Sunday dinners. At 15 years old she surrendered for full time Christian service during a Bible conference and later in her first year of Bible College was challenged for missions through a chapel message. After completing Bible College, while teaching in a VBS at her church, she sensed God’s definite direction to the field of Brazil.
A couple of weeks after classes began at Victory Baptist Bible College, Pastor Dell announced to us that the student body would be attending a mission’s conference at the Victory Baptist Church in Harvey, North Dakota. I was excited about this trip. I had never been in a mission’s conference before in my life! The day arrived and the student body, as well as Jane Dell, began the ten-hour trip to ‘south of the border’. After passing through the city of Regina almost everybody was nodding off and so I turned around and made some conversation with Jane, the only other person awake. “So, what are you planning to do with your life?” Jane looked at me and answered, “I’m going to Brazil as a missionary.” She went on to tell me how the Lord had led her to prepare to go to a city called Manaus in the Amazon and that she would be working with children in a local church. I was astounded, “A single girl, going to the Amazon as a missionary.” My vision of the Amazon was a land of lush green jungles, massive rivers, anacondas, alligators and jaguars… That’s no place for a single missionary lady I thought. At that moment I determined, although I never told anyone, that I was going to pray for Jane, that the Lord would give her a husband so she wouldn’t have to go alone. Well, God answered my prayers and a couple of years later Jane and I began to date and in April of 1984 we were married.
Jane had joined Baptist Mid-Missions in 1982 and had already begun to raise support. When we were married the mission told us that they were in favor, but if I failed the doctrinal exam then Jane would not be able to continue. Two months after getting married, Jane and I drove down to Kokomo, Indiana to the Baptist Mid-Missions Triannual missions conference where I went before the council and passed the doctrinal exam.
Jane had already raised about thirty-five percent of her financial support to go to Brazil and that had to be revised now that we were a couple. Someone told us that we should go to the States to raise support, “You will never get enough financial support in Canada.” We hit the road visiting churches from Nova Scotia to British Columbia. Churches in the Maritimes took us on because churches in the east knew me and my family. Churches in the west took us on as we were well known from being a part of the Victory Baptist Church and Bible School. We were the first missionaries ever to visit some of those churches and we seemed to pick up support wherever we went. After nine months of deputation we had 100 percent financial support and it was 100 percent Canadian!
In May of 1986, Victory Baptist Church held a commissioning service for Jane and me. Ross Helgeton, a Baptist Mid-Missions missionary, was the speaker. After the message, Jane and I went to the platform and all the pastors, deacons and missionaries present formed a circle around us and prayed for us and our ministry in Brazil. After the commissioning service we enjoyed a pot luck dinner at the church, said our good byes and we and the Dells began the long journey to Miami, Florida. About five days later Jane and I walked down the loading ramp and entered the big Cruzeiro Airlines Airbus 300 and left the Dells, Miami, and North America behind for our new life and ministry that God had for us in the great land of Brazil!
“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even (in the Amazon of Brazil) unto the end of the world. Amen.” Mt.28:19-20