In Kansas City, Kansas, 1953, I was born into a family of nine children. I was number nine, and my big sister, number eight, was nine and a half years older than I. This big sister had prayed and prayed for a "baby sister", so I naturally became very special to her. She played with me, sewed for me, taught me to read, and then when I was five or six, she told me the most important thing for anyone to know. It was simple:
I was not the perfect little girl I thought I was (This made me very angry at first - proof that I wasn't perfect). And I wasn't even God's little girl either! (a big shock to me). To be God's girl, Marylin told me, I must believe and receive Jesus, God's Son as the Bible says in John 1.12: "But as many as received Him (Jesus), to them gave He power to become the children of God, even to them that believe on His name". It was all because Jesus Christ had paid for my sins when He died on the cross, Marylin explained. If I did not receive Jesus, I would not be God's little girl and could never go to Heaven.
So the following Sunday evening after church (at the First Baptist Church in Mission, Kansas where my family went at that time), I told my sister and the pastor that I wanted to be saved. After a kind lady showed me Revelations 3:20 (Jesus speaking): "Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me." I asked Jesus to forgive my sins, and thanked Him for dying on the cross so that I could go to Heaven. Once we were back home, I can remember running through the house, full of joy, ready to say, "Mom, I'm saved".
During my early teens, I suddenly realized that not everyone believed in Jesus Christ. I wondered why. Was Christ not truly God's Son? Why were there so many religions in the world? Where did this world really come from after all? Did someone really know? Or did no one know - each just chose his own idea and finally, absolute truth didn't even exist? Maybe ... had I followed Christ just because my family did and because I'd been raised that way?
Then my question turned directly to God, the Creator (if there really was One, I thought). "Oh, God " I said, "if absolute truth does exist, show me what it is, and if it's not Jesus Christ, show me what it is!" I didn't want to live in an illusion; I wanted to know reality.
And God did answer! Within two weeks, different Bible verses came to my mind and I suddenly saw how it all fit together - how only Christ could possibly be the truth. Hadn't He Himself said in John 14:6: "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man cometh to the Father but by me." Yes, I could see it clearly. How could this world and universe have come into existence if a God Creator hadn't made it? (No science can prove the contrary, and it is only foolish to not recognize that God is our Creator.) Read Ps. 14:1 and Romans 1. And if we humans don't know Him naturally, the reason is simple:
We're sinners and He is perfectly Holy. Our sins form a barrier so the only way to know Him is to have this barrier of our sins taken away just what Christ did. Has anyone on this earth ever done as many miracles (including His resurrection from the dead) as Christ did, proving who He was, the very Son of God? And ... had any man ever been perfect, as Christ was, without any sin? So of course, only He, without sin, could possibly be a substitute to pay for the sins of all the rest of us - and thus ... take away the barrier of our sins before God. Then I knew I hadn't believed a fable, no, I had found reality!
Since my childhood, I thought I would someday be a missionary. Especially when my mother told me that I was born as the result of a conviction God had given her: that He wanted her to have one more child - for Him. It seemed to me that there were enough true Christians in the U.S. to take care of the spiritual needs there. I needed to go somewhere else; somewhere where there was hardly anyone to carry the gospel message to those who hadn't heard. Also, at one of Crest Bible Church's missionary conferences, I dedicated my life to the Lord to be a missionary if He so led.
During high school, I wondered how to get started, where, etc. Usually, I thought, a missionary goes through four years of Bible College, then chooses the foreign mission field, mission board, etc. Maybe spends one or two years learning the language and/or other specified training, etc. Six years! My, I thought, Christ may return before I ever get there! I wish I could go right now ... but at the age of 17? Of course that couldn't exist! And that's when I vaguely remembered having heard of the Intensive Missionary Training program of the Society for Europe's Evangelization. Even before finishing high school, then, I was on my way to Toulouse, France with S.E.E. ready to finish high school by correspondence. It was April 1971.
My first spring and summer in France, I started getting my first French lessons. By fall '71, it was time to begin the three-year Bible course of a regular Bible Institute - but in French! It was a little rough in the beginning, I must admit, but joy in serving the Lord was a lot greater! Already, I could serve the Lord through prayer (I saw my first soul won to Christ simply through prayer - others talked and I prayed), through distribution of invitations to evangelistic meetings, films, tent meetings, children's clubs, etc.
I had come to France because that was the only place the IMT program of S.E.E. existed. But it was really a few months after my arrival that I really saw the desperate spiritual need of this country.
I remember they'd asked me to replace the organist for the little church in Montauban for one Sunday. "This church must be small," I thought, "maybe about 40 people..." When I got there, I was stupefied, 6 people from Montauban (and that was a good Sunday). "Only 6 Christians in this whole city of 50,000 inhabitants?" "Judy," said the Lord, "you're on the mission field." And I realized for the first time that I really was.
Before my first year in France was up, my past musical training proved useful. S.E.E. asked me to serve with my saxophone in a musical evangelistic team. So for four or five years (I finished the Bible school in Toulouse in the mean time), I was involved in witnessing, traveling, playing my saxophone with the Joy Quartet, counseling after gospel meetings from one gospel campaign to another - in local church halls, public halls, under tents (in the summer) and even in open-air (one time our group was invited to the Ivory Coast, in Africa for two months of gospel meetings there!). 'Through a lot of this traveling, I saw the spiritual needs all over France of town after town, and sometimes of even larger cities, I was told, "There's no gospel witness here ... no gospel witness here...".
My next three years had Toulouse as home base, as a major preoccupation. I had the chance to work in the church there, helping young Christians, teaching Bible clubs for children, witnessing on the street and in local universities, and helping out in material tasks at the Bible Institute. But wherever I was, Montauban kept coming back to me as the "mission field" where God was calling me. In the fall of '78 and in '79, God unexpectedly opened the door for me to serve Him in Montauban.
After Greg and I had worked for eight months together in Montauban (1979), we both saw how well we complemented each other in God's work as well as in our personal lives. So, we were united in marriage May 24th 1980.