Anything, Anytime, Anywhere
They were a young couple full of hopes and dreams. They were going to be missionaries! They had each heard God’s call individually, before they were married and, of course, after they were married they could hardly wait to go to the foreign country of God’s choice for them.
She accepted Christ as her Savior at the age of six but didn’t really begin to attend church until age thirteen. She grew up in a large family with two older brothers, two younger brothers and two younger sisters.
Between the ages of thirteen and sixteen many things happened in her life to influence her decision to be a missionary. Her family moved from their home in the country to a house next door to a Baptist minister. The minister had just started a new church a year earlier. She also became friends with another neighbor’s daughter who just happened to be related to this Baptist minister. She and her family were invited to visit this church.
It really seemed strange to her at first. She had only attended church a few times in her previous thirteen years but once She visited She kept on going to every meeting: Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night and to youth activities. She especially enjoyed what they called Singspirations.
All the young people would go to the Pastor’s home or her friend’s home after the Sunday evening service for iced tea, popcorn and cake. She especially liked the popcorn part. They would sit around and sing choruses and sometimes play table tennis and just hang out. The more she went to church the more she wanted to go.
During that time, Her grandfather had a heart attack and was in the hospital for several weeks before he died. She spent a great deal of time at the hospital with him because She loved her grandfather very much. She fed him until he went into a coma and couldn’t eat. She had always thought about being a nurse or teacher. After spending so much time at the hospital She had pretty much decided that She would be a nurse.
But then at church She kept hearing messages and lessons on the fact that we are not our own, we are bought with a price; the blood of Jesus Christ was shed to give us eternal life. And it made her wonder:
“Should we as Christians not give our lives to God to do with as He pleases?”
She was taught that God has a plan for each life. He wants to use each and every person in some way to tell others about His salvation, His death, burial and resurrection and the fact that He will come again. This really gave her a lot to think about.
Finally, she had heard enough and knew enough to make a commitment. She told God, her family, the minister and her friends, and the church that she was giving her life to God totally and completely. If He wanted her to be a missionary in China or Africa or wherever then she would do it. She said, “Anything you want from my life God, Anytime and Anywhere!”
What a relief! She didn’t have to worry about anything then. She left it up to God to decide what to do with her life, who to marry, how many children to have and where to live.
After that She just couldn’t understand people who wanted to run their own life. She saw many of her friends get involved in the wrong things and with the wrong people. How much happier they would have been if they had only let God have complete control.
When She was sixteen her brother, who was just two years older than She, was killed in a car accident. She could have become bitter and said, “Why did God let this happen to me? Why our family? We are all going to church trying to do what is right, my eldest brother is in Bible College studying to become a minister, I have given my life to God to become a missionary so why did this bad thing happen?” Why? Why? Why?
But She did not say any of those things. She knew that God was much wiser than She. God knows the beginning and the end. Even though She was very sad because of her brother, She knew God was in control.
She could hardly wait to finish High School. She knew she was going to Bible College to learn all she could so she could be a missionary. She really believed God wanted her to go to Africa. All during her high school years she was very involved in Church. She sang in the choir and in a special group, she taught Sunday School and was very active in the Youth group. Her family had many Singspirations and Youth activities in their home.
Well, the day finally came, she finished high school at the end of May in 1967, at the age of 17, and in August she went to Bible College; 700 miles away from home.
She had many, many experiences in the three years she was in Bible College. Probably the biggest lesson was trusting God to supply all her needs. She did not have any money. Her parents were not in a position to pay her school fees.
The first two years she got up, went to breakfast at 6:00, then to class and rushed back to her room, changed clothes and got a lift to one of her many house cleaning jobs. Yes, she cleaned other peoples’ houses, ironed and even wrapped Christmas packages for two years to pay her school fees and her room and board. She even managed to pay her tithe and give to missions during that time. She never went hungry even though she missed lunch a few times. The third year she managed to get a job in a department store.
Like all young women She THOUGHT that surely God would at some point in time send her a husband. And She ASSUMED that surely during her three years at Bible College MR. RIGHT would show up. After all, the place was full of young men who wanted to be ministers and missionaries. What better place to be on the lookout for a husband.
But remember She had given her life completely to God. This matter of a husband was in His hands not hers and so she waited through the first year. She waited through the second year and She waited through the third year. She knew school would end in May of the third year but “What next?” Should She try to be a single missionary? Had God forgotten about her?
Since the Christian School movement was really big at this time, many pastors came to the Bible College to find Christian teachers for their schools. She decided to take a job teaching. She had never taught school before, but She thought to herself, “well surely if God gave me this job, (and she believed with all her heart that God had indeed given her the job), that He could most certainly help her teach school. How Hard Could It Be?
Well, HE – MR. RIGHT that is – did not come along and so She finished her third year and off She went to teach school. She made many new friends and thoroughly enjoyed the teaching. She had six students that first year.
At the end of the year She went home to see her family for two or three weeks. And when she got back THERE HE WAS! An Astronaut, who wanted to go to Russia as a missionary. It had to be true because the kids in Her class that year told her all about HIM.
He was saved at the age of thirteen and after being taught a lesson on missions, He knew God was calling him to be a missionary in Africa. His Dad was definitely NOT happy about that decision!
He came from a very dysfunctional home. His Dad always had to have a few drinks when he came home from work each evening. His mother was an alcoholic. He was sent away to boarding school for tenth grade because that was the year his parents were getting through their divorce. They didn’t want him to get caught up in the legal skirmishing.
At the end of that year, His Dad remarried and His family increased. Before the remarriage, He had one half sister who was eleven years older and one full sister who was three years older. After the new marriage, he had a stepmother, a step-sister and two step-brothers.
Things were not always pleasant in His first home. Because of the situation it became very difficult to go to church, so for eight years after salvation he did not attend church.
But this one thing He knew, He had a Heavenly Father who loved him and wanted to make something out of his life. Even though He went to junior college and later studied marine engineering, he never forgot that he had given his life to God. He still knew that God wanted him in Africa. After many difficult circumstances and while out in the middle of the ocean, He bowed his head in the privacy of his cabin and told God again, “Here I am, I am ready to DO ANYTHING you want me to do, ANYTIME, ANYWHERE.”
Following that commitment, He left his marine engineering studies and headed for home. Home just happened to be where She was teaching in a Christian school.
He arrived at church while She was away on summer vacation. Remember, when She came back from holiday there He was.
Oh, about the astronaut part. The church was conducting a vacation Bible school and the school’s theme was Outer Space. They had an astronaut suit and needed someone to play the part. He was chosen. All the young kids thought He was a REAL astronaut and that is what they told Her when she arrived.
He had also made a comment or two about being a missionary in Russia. He was sure about the missionary part but not about the location. It took Him a while to realize that God hadn’t changed His mind about Africa.
So, He and She met in July and then He went off to Bible College in mid August. They saw each other a lot before He went off to school but only because they were both always at church: attending services, doing visitation, getting ready for the next school year, singing in the choir and more.
But they NEVER had a date.
He didn’t want to date. With a full time job and all the church activities, He didn’t have time to date and He had been side-tracked once, so now, NOTHING, not even a Girl or Dating would be allowed to interfere with his plan to serve God. He didn’t want Anything or Anyone to get in the way of His desire to do ANYTHING, ANYTIME, ANYWHERE for God. So, off to school he went.
Now remember, She had been to Bible college already. She knew how very lonely it could be when you first arrive: you don’t know anyone, you are in a strange city and you are looking for a job and trying to keep up with a heavy study schedule. Oh Yes! She knew how lonely He must be!
Surely He would like to receive a letter from home, from a friend, someone who KNEW what He was going through.
So, of course! The only good and right and Christian thing to do would be to write to him a:
“Hello, how are you, just thinking about you, are you settling in nicely, hope everything is going OK?”
. . . Type of letter.
And that’s what She did!
He was pleased to get the letter but was so consumed by the study/work schedule that He did not have time to write very much, only one short letter, so she sent him a Christmas card in December.
To Her surprise, this time He decided to call but it wasn’t just a “Hello, how are you, thanks for writing” phone call. He called to ask Her to marry him! That’s right, He proposed on the phone and She was speechless.
It was all rather shocking. She knew, of course, that they would get married someday and She was sure of that right after they first met but She didn’t expect it to happen this way. So, no, She could not accept His proposal just like that over the telephone. She had to at least recover from the shock first!
Oh, and by the way, the day before calling He had mailed his proposal in a letter and told friends about it. He called only because all of His friends, being the helpful people they were, convinced Him it would be better to let her know the proposal was coming before it actually got there.
Looking back She realized that even though it was a surprise it shouldn’t have been entirely unexpected.
You see, She had just prayed about it again at the beginning of January. “Lord,” she said.
“I still believe you want me in Africa but you know I am not Married or anything, so if you want me to go on over there like I am, single and all, then just let me know and I will go, ANYTHING, ANYTIME, ANYWHERE. But you know Lord, I think HE might just make a suitable husband and He wants to go to Africa also, so if HE is THE ONE then please just let me know – and you better let him know also. And if He’s not THE ONE then that’s OK too. Amen!”
Well, I guess you could say that phone call was God’s answer to prayer. And His Word tells us He responds to prayers like that.
“Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.” (Jeremiah 33:3)
And another verse says . . .
“Be careful for noting but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God.” (Philippians 4:6)
He proposed in January. In April She said yes and in July they were married. Their wedding was in Knoxville and they honeymooned on the way back to Missouri where he attended school. He still had two years left.
They had been married only one week when She went into the hospital with a severe case of Mono and was there for a whole week. She didn’t feel so good for several months after Her release and then she became pregnant. Besides trying to recuperate from the Mono She was also anemic.
Her daily schedule was difficult:
She got up, fixed breakfast, got Him off to school and then went back to bed. She got up and fixed lunch before He went to work (the 3 PM to 12 midnight shift) and then went back to bed. She got up to prepare a meal for His dinner break and then went back to bed.
It was a long hard year. Their son was born the day after their first anniversary.
Needless to say, being newly married, having hospital bills, school fees and a new baby, money was somewhat scarce. Even so, they always gave their tithe and missions offering. Many times they ate eggs and pancakes. Through a friend they could get eggs for 25 cents a dozen and flour wasn’t too expensive so they ate lots of pancakes.
They never went hungry. God always provided something. Sometimes He provided liver and onions through another friend – definitely not Her or His favorite but She had said ANYTHING and She guessed that meant liver too.
Now About The Zucchini
A Bible College friend and his wife had a large family, four sons. In order to make sure they always had enough food this friend planted a large vegetable garden in his back yard. The good part was he usually spent his summers back home and left the garden unattended.
Being a good friend, he told He and She they could take whatever vegetables were growing in the garden while his family was away. If it wasn’t eaten, it would go to waste so the plan made sense and the newly married couple was excited!
They were grateful for the eggs, pancakes and liver the thought of eating vegetables was a treat! They could hardly wait! Off they went to check on the garden. They found a FEW green beans, a cucumber and a tomato or two and some Zucchini squash. Not just a little Zucchini but a lot!
It was everywhere and it grew and grew. All summer long, when they went to the garden, the thing they found the most of was Zucchini squash. They picked it, took it home and prepared it in many different ways. They baked it, fried it, boiled it with tomatoes and onions and made bread with it. They ate it all summer long and were grateful for every bite. They still love it today!
That experience brought to life one small but significant verse in the Bible, Philippians 4:19.
“But my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”
God was rich in Zucchini that summer. It just grew and grew and He and She were the beneficiaries.
The good news is they made it through that summer and eventually through Bible College. And they always managed to give their tithe and missions offerings.
In there fourth year of marriage they had a second son and after graduating from Bible College they worked in two different churches, made it through many difficult circumstances and, yes, they eventually made it Africa. They arrived there a bit older and wiser than when they first started out. They had learned that no matter how difficult the circumstances or how poor you are, no matter what the future holds; if you always put God first then God will always be there for you.
HE WILL SEE YOU THROUGH ANYTHING, ANYTIME, ANYWHERE.
You still find them working in Africa and, in fact, you know them as Ennis and Becky Pepper.