Friday, December 4, 2009
Virginia Ross's testimony
Mrs. Virginia Ross was our special speaker in our Ladies Bible Study, and I'd like to kick myself for not having video taped her. The whole thing was excellent, and I got a blessing in an area where I had a fear that the devil was probably going to blow up into an overwhelming thing. More about that later.
Mrs. Ross was a Young! When she was young Young, her mom died, which left her with a loneliness that she says was part of what drew her to Jesus. She was involved with dancing, boys, hairstyles, movies and everything else she could think of that would give satisfaction, and yet was so unhappy. Her friend Blanche was the same, and then Blanche got saved. She couldn't understand it. They were all Presbyterians, all church people, and didn't understand what it was that Blanche had done. She remembers saying, "Blanche is not ashamed of Jesus, and I am." They thought she must have turned Catholic, but Virginia took the time to find out more. She was very drawn to whatever Blanche had, but felt she would have to give up everything, her university plans, her entertainment, and even her family if she were to follow the Lord. She determined the cost was too high and said she wouldn't do it, but then, after a week long visit with Blanche, she was shocked to hear herself say to Blanche, "Can I get saved right here or do I have to be in a church?"
She mentioned that verse "Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? Nay, but rather division." Luke 12:51. It was certainly true for her. Her whole family was in an uproar over her conversion, and then she wanted to go to Bible college instead of being the first in the family to go to university (her uncle had been going to pay). Many years later her father admitted that she had chosen well, and 10 years later her twin sister got saved too so there was sweet fruit, but only later.
She went through a very dark time of doubt almost immediately after being saved, but then, as she prayed, she opened her Bible to Revelation 3:15 and knew she was one of the lukewarm ones! From that time on she was surrendered to whatever God had for her and soon planned to be a missionary.
She considered boys to be one of the worldly things she had denounced so planned to go as a single missionary, but God had other plans. She was all ready to go on one boat in 1949, at age 29, but her visa never came from South Africa. She couldn't understand it! Why would God allow this to happen? But very soon began to see reasons for the delay. First of all, Blanche's house was struck by lightning and burned to the ground WHILE she was bringing Virginia home from the boat she wasn't allowed to take.
Secondly, that was when her twin got saved, partly from reading The Robe and then with Virginia's help.
So months later, visa in hand, she tried again. This time she was one of 12 passengers on a cargo ship. As she came on the ship, she was told that there was one other missionary on board. She was glad, thinking he was probably an older missionary from whom she could learn. His name was Archibald Macintyre Ross, 2 years her junior. They were assigned to the Chief Engineer's table, right beside each other for 3 meals a day, for 3 weeks. You can imagine what happened. She was impressed with his looks, and that he knew the Bible better then she did. She would argue with him, but he was winning all the arguments.
She was in the habit of reading the Bible each night before bed, so one night she read the last 2 verses in Proverbs and a chapter in the New Testament, (she didn't say which, but I guess it was 1 Corinthians 14). The first opened her eyes to the fact that God valued married ladies, and the second opened her eyes to the fact that Archie was right in their argument about women preachers.
The next day when they met before breakfast, she said she had read some scriptures. He said, "Was one of them Proverbs 31:30, 31?" to which she answered, "How did you know?" and then he asked, "Was the other 1 Corinthians 14?" She wondered if he was a mind reader! "How did you know?" she asked again.
The answer left her dumfounded. "Because I prayed that if you were the girl for me, that He would have you read those two passages."
"Where does that leave me?" she sputtered, rather amazed at that unique proposal.
"Just where you've always been. I have my guidance, now you'll have to get yours," came the reply. All this happened on the equator, she told us, but she held off saying yes til they came into Cape Town.
Things were complicated for a bit there, as he was assigned to Zambia and was with the Brethren, while she was to go to the Transvaal with her group. So it was at least a year and a half before they got everything squared away. She became Brethren while in Durban, and he got malaria and had to leave Zambia so they finally got married and were married for 54 years.
They had 4 children, 3 girls and a boy. The boy is in Parow and the girls are in the States and New Zealand.
It was sweet to hear her talk about her husband of 54 years. She used a lot of "very"s. He was very Scottish, very good looking, very smart, very godly, and very humorous. She said the last 2 years with him were the best "because he did everything I told him to." :-) But then she said really they were the best in fellowship. He was paralyzed from a stroke, so they were living in the States, but unable to afford help there. Her back was going from helping him, so they ended up moving to Cape Town where they could afford to hire nurses to help him. She said he wanted to go to heaven ever since the stroke, but the Lord left him those 11
(I think) years, and she really enjoyed him. He could still preach, but he couldn't walk without help as it was his entire left side that was paralyzed.
She learned a lot during his illness. She started driving at age 78 (My friend Mary is totally inspired by that one!) and learned to use the computer at age 81. She confessed she's a little proud about that, because there are only 2 of the old ladies where she lives who have learned the computer and she's one of them. I think she lives in the Retirement Hotel in St. James.
She talked about love, and how there is nothing better in this life then to lay down your life for another, and how sweet the time was for them as a couple while they went through this time of ill health. That is the part that particularly encouraged me! I was under the impression that it just kind of got worse and worse and then you died, but she describes it as better and better with the Lord, and the difficulties are just incidental.
She did share about difficulties like impatience with her husband, hip surgeries, a prolapsed uterus after the birth of her son (10 1/2 lbs which is about 5 kilos!!!) and so forth, but able to see how God had worked in those situations.
It's funny to re-read this now, four years later. Virginia has become my good friend, and Evangel and I visit her frequently. She is now 93, still driving, and still on Facebook. She is setting me, and others, an example of keeping on with the Lord. I hope to be such a good listener as she is, and so enthusiastic about life when/if I'm ever 93. She is very deliberate about reaching out to other people, inviting them in to mentor. Evangel said she took notes the last time she went to lunch with Mrs. Ross.
I just stuck the picture in, of Mrs. Ross at a book signing at the Casa Labia. Her book is called Love Letters from Africa and is her letters home from her early days in South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
I got her to speak at our Ladies Bible study in 2013, since most of the ladies hadn't heard her when she spoke to our group in 2009, and she was so generous with those books.