He Was There All the Time!

Before Salvation

In my childhood there was very little that came of my home about Christ. However, there was one Aunt, Evelyn, that took us to the Salvation Army nearly every Sunday and always for special occasions.

My Mom, after her divorce when I was five, lived at home with her Mother.

I loved my grandmoter because she was always there. She ran a boarding house on Mulberry Avenue in Muscatine, and took in washings and ironings, so she was tired, but I was never alone.

I learned very early to stay out of the way of everyone, especially the men that lived in the boarding house.

My Mom worked, usually in a button factory for very little wages, and half of this went to Grandma to help feed and take care of my sister and me.

We were poor, extremely poor. There was never enough food, never enough heat or warm clothes, never enough love, and much punishment for things that I did not understand. It was a hard, harsh, abusive life in which children were considered a burden and treated as insignificant. Yet, through the God's mercy, using my precious aunt, I was taught be these wonderful servents of the Lord at the SSalvation Army that I had an Abba Father that was never changing and always there.

I learned to pray small prayers for thos I loved and for the safety of my sister and myself. I learned many Bible stories and was able to win prizes for memorizing Bible verses. "Abba Father" became very real to me early in my life since my Dad was really never a part of it from the beginning.

My Mom remarried when I was about ten, and this man was an alcohic, and another one who I quickly learned to avoid. But, he did bring money into the family. This provided more and better food and clothes. He bought a house and we left the boarding house; Grandma and aunt Evelyn moved with us.

Life was still hard, but my sister and I were away from the dangers at the boarding house.

Although out step-Dad was not much better, he was drunk much of the time and always used vulgar language and treated us like toys. He was awful to my Mom who loved us to the best of her abilities, and only wanted to have the necessities for her daughters.

It was at this time that I met Ron Chandler, a young man who lived across the street, and we became bike riding buddies. I was about eleven and he was thirteen. This was the beginning of a life-long love affair. He was a Catholic.

Many people invited me to church, and I was happy to go with them. For several years I attended Walnut Street Baptist Church, and once again I was taught the word by good people who showed me that I was important to God.

At seventeen, I was attending the Nazarene Church, and was offically saved there. This experience changed my life forever. I knew about God and was sure of my Abba, but now a great weight was lifted from me, and was able to surrender everything to God. At that minute I was delivered from shame and fear, and they been gone from me since.

I stayed with the Nazarenes until I was nineteen. When Ron and I became engaged, I began to study with the Catholics and did so for two years, and then we were married. I was twenty-one and he was twenty-three.

After Salvation

The years after my salvation have been challenging and exciting with many deliverances and changes. In the midst of this, Ron and I were both baptised in the Holy Spirit while studying with a Spirit-filled Catholic Priest in the 1960's.

God moved us from the Catholic Church to the Seventh Day Adventist Church. In this church we found a body of believers that loved the Lord and His word. From there we met the young pastor at Four Square, and became a part of that denomination.

The call came to me some years later to return to my roots on Mulberry and we began attending the Jesus Mission. In each of these churches we found believers that loved God, and we learned that what is most important is your relationship with the King. That is the bottom line for Ron and me!!

God has provided much for us. We have three wonderful, healthy, successful children. Without the hand of the Father upon them, I'm sure thay would have gotten into some serious trouble because I was not the great mother that I though I would be at twenty-one.

As I look back on our marriage, I am praising God for the way that He has been our provider and protector. We have seen victory through many trials that should have destroyed our family and marriage.

My life has since my salvation experience has been one miracle after another. I have been totally set free from rejection and the "fear of man."

The Lord has increased my ability as an intercessor and warrior, has put me under the teaching of anointed pastors and leaders, allowed me to have a love for all churches that lift up His name, and to forgive with an unconditional love those who abused and wounded me as a child.

I want the world to know that my life is a testimony of God's love, and I would not thing of changing one day of it.

A scripture that the Lord gave me when I was saved - Matthew 6:33: Seek ye the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things will be added unto you.

Toni Chandler,
Muscatine, Iowa.

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