August 31, 2016

Misunderstood Woman Provides Miraculous Answer to Prayer

, Canadian Adventist Messenger

Some people with big hearts are misunderstood by others.

Al Capone was hated for his criminal activity but loved for his charity, such as the soup kitchens he opened in Chicago during the U.S. Great Depression of the 1930s and the programs he funded to provide schoolchildren with milk to wipe out rickets disease.

On a smaller scale, Glenn Beck is a conservative U.S. talk show host criticized for his outspoken opinions but appreciated by his employees for matching their charitable donations dollar for dollar.

Recording artist Justin Bieber, who is both loved and criticized, has single-handedly granted more than 250 wishes for the charitable Make-A-Wish Foundation in less than four years.

Then there is Peggy Barlow.New beds lining a dormitory at Adventist-run Camp Frenda in Port Carling, Ontario, Canada. (Canadian Adventist Messenger)

Peggy led a life of service but made few lasting ties with those she encountered along the way. She was a private person who lived simply and humbly. About a decade before she died at age 92, she contacted Alvin Ram, the planned giving director at the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s Ontario Conference in Canada, to help prepare her will.

Peggy was born in England on June 15, 1920. At 18, she joined the Women’s Royal Naval Service and worked as a writer until 1951. Then she moved on to the New Zealand Air Force, serving as a clerk until 1953. During the next three years she lived in Australia, Rhodesia (Zimbabwe), South Africa, and Singapore before moving to the Canadian province of Quebec in 1956, where she hoped to find a husband and settle down.

Instead of a husband, Peggy found the Lord.

In 1958, she was baptized in another Christian church, and in 1965, at the age of 45, she graduated and became a nursing assistant, a position she held until her retirement. Peggy’s professional path took her to Toronto, where she began faithfully attending the Willowdale Seventh-day Adventist Church.

Fast forward to April 2015.

Glenn DeSilva, director of Camp Frenda, an Adventist summer camp and retreat center in Port Carling, Ontario, sat in his office poring over the budget. He could not figure out how to pay for desperately needed new beds for the camp’s dormitories. Only a few thousand dollars remained in the camp’s bank account after a roof collapse earlier that year, but he needed 70,000 Canadian dollars (U.S.$53,500) to replace beds for the campers.

Praying for a solution was the only thing he could do.

What DeSilva did not know was that Peggy had answered his prayer — 11 years before he prayed it. With no husband or children, Peggy had pledged everything that God had blessed her with to the children of Camp Frenda.

Peggy died on Nov. 19, 2012, but it took more than two years for Alvin Ram, the executor of her will, to settle her affairs. On a sunny day in April 2015, Ram cast a shadow in DeSilva’s office doorway. DeSilva looked up in amazement as Ram handed over Peggy’s gift of 65,002.58 Canadian dollars to Camp Frenda.

“Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear,” the Lord says in Isaiah 65:24 (NIV).

Peggy may have been misunderstood by some. Her generosity may have been unrecognized for many years. But in the end, and just when it mattered most, it proved and will continue to prove a wonderful blessing to the children of Camp Frenda.