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Editorial: My Father’s business

Esther R. Knott

 

It was a busy and noisy registration day in Johnson Gym at Andrews University. This would be my final year in preparation to be a teacher. I had just switched one of my majors to religion and was now standing at the teacher-certification table. The person at the table looked at my revised paper work and said, “You can’t be a certified teacher with these two majors.” There was a brief pause, and then I responded, “That’s okay; I’ll be a pastor.”

When asked about my calling, I am hard pressed to determine the exact moment of that call. Did I hear God’s specific voice amid the new reality about my majors? I’m not sure. I believe that moment was the spontaneous expression of the natural progression of where God was leading me.

God used the voices of many. My calling started with Adventist parents who intentionally lived out their Adventist Christian faith in contagious ways. They took me to church and made Sabbath the best day of the week. They inspired me to want to earn money so that I could return my own tithe and offerings. They moved from Trinidad to England to Canada and sacrificed to send me to Adventist schools.

My teachers at Toronto Junior Academy (now Crawford Adventist Academy) partnered with my parents and the local church in giving me the opportunity to serve and lead. My choir director, Jackie Juriansz, taught me about music and relationships while on trips to Baskin-Robbins for ice cream. Pastor Duane Anderson taught me that I was saved because of Jesus’ gift of salvation, not because I was a good kid. Brian Townsend, my gymnastic coach, taught me to love Ellen White’s books. Her books inspired me to dig deeper into Scripture and love the Lord of the Bible.

Because of my interest in gymnastics and sharing my faith, I chose to go to Andrews University so that I could be on the university gymnastic team—the Gymnics. During that era, the Gymnics were a witnessing team—presenting four religious programs and one gymnastic show on weekends.

During my second year in college as a physical education major, one of my coaches, Ernie Stevens, handed me the book In His Steps by Charles Sheldon. I read it that weekend, and the bookstore ended up ordering more than 150 copies because of all the referrals I made. That book led me to follow up on a summer job interview I had brushed off. That summer job set up the next chain of events.

The summer of 1978 found me working for the Adventist Collegiate Taskforce, doing tasks that did not resemble the job description I had been given. I ended up working with five churches and preaching almost every Sabbath. Most important, that summer, I gave my first Bible study. While cleaning out a church closet, I found a “shoebox” with Bible study interests. Embarrassed that there had been no follow-up, a couple of us set to work to contact each person. That became our summer job.

One number I phoned revealed that the person had died since filling out the interest card. That was a sobering moment. Other phone calls led to Bible studies and baptisms. I learned that when people had the opportunity to know and experience the truth about God, they would often make the decision to love Him back. The experience of leading people into a love relationship with Jesus became addicting. I wanted more. Back at school, I changed my minor to religion.

The next summer I was asked to work with an evangelistic team in South Bend, Indiana. Again, I had the chance to open Scripture with people. One woman readily accepted the new teachings. She said she did so because she had seen me in a dream before I even came to her door. She believed that God had sent me.

After the summer of 1979, I wanted even more. That was when, on that registration day, I switched my religion minor to a religion major and heard myself say, “I’ll be a pastor.”

I am grateful for those who helped me hear God’s call and find my place. My dad always inspired me by saying, “A woman’s place is in her Father’s business.” I’m challenging us, as ministers, to be instruments that God can use to help men and women hear His call and find their place.

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