Danielle was done with religion. Done with God! She’d always chafed at the rituals of the church anyway.
At five-foot-two and 90 pounds, Danielle was known among her young peers as dynamite in a small package. Born in St. Magloire, Quebec, she grew up with three brothers and learned to use her voice to express herself at an early age. Her family moved to a burgeoning French community in Southern Ontario when she was three. Music, love and happiness filled her home—everything a young girl could want.
Although Danielle’s parents were not overly religious, they did attend church in their small community of Welland, where Catholicism was part of the French culture. “I was taught some fundamentals like the Trinity, the death and resurrection of Christ. But it was all scrambled and I could not make a personal connection,” Danielle explains.
At the age of nine, she asked God a serious question at bedtime: “God, when I die, where will I go? To heaven or hell?” But God never answered her at that time.
Because Danielle’s dad was the apple of her eye, her deep love for him kept her from bad crowds and rebelling in her teen years. She didn't want to break his heart.
Before marrying her Ukrainian husband at age 19, Danielle and her fiancé, Pat, attended pre-marital classes led by an English priest. The priest’s teaching on evolution and alcohol crushed any bit of faith Danielle had left.
So she walked away from the church. “God was wiping my confused slate of religious beliefs and starting carte blanche—back to a white slate—and preparing it for rewriting,” she says.
Sleeping Life Away
Unbeknownst to Danielle, a severe hormonal imbalance in her late teens began to worsen, creating emotional instability. She fell into deep depression. If I just sleep, I’ll be ok, she told herself. Weeks passed into months and Danielle slept while her husband spent his time at the hockey rink.
During wakeful times, the reality of her life became too much. She contemplated taking her life gently with sleeping pills. She told herself, my parents will get over it, and my husband will find someone else. But before going to sleep that night, she cried out, “God—if there is a God—let me know and I’ll follow you.”
In the morning, she visited her doctor and broke into tears in his office. He had just read in his medical journals about a rare disease called Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. The diagnosis gave her some hope.
While recuperating from the ensuing operation, she noticed the woman in the bed beside her—a newly converted Jehovah’s Witness—reading her Bible. She looked over at her and asked outright, “Do you believe in the devil?”
The woman’s reply was a bit superstitious, but Danielle analyzed her answer and reasoned, If there is a devil, then there must be a God! God was starting to rewrite her white slate.
While recovering at her mother’s house during the day, she questioned, “Mom, is the Bible real?”
“I don't know,” her mother replied. “I don’t think the Old Testament is any good, because the priests don’t read from it. But maybe the New Testament is okay.”
Danielle didn’t care. She badly wanted it to be true. God had placed an insatiable desire in her heart for the Word, but she’d been taught that people shouldn’t read the Bible since it would confuse them; they were to let the priests interpret and teach it.
“Wait a minute,” her mother said as she left the room.
She returned with a black New Testament that a tenant from one of her dad’s apartment buildings had left behind. Her mother couldn’t throw it out, so it had sat on a basement library shelf for years.
“Never touched and never read—it was a gift from my Saviour, waiting there for me to read,” she says.
Soaking Up the Word
Danielle received the Book like someone finding treasure, saving it to read until she was alone.
“For the first time, I read John 3:16. I didn’t know God could speak to people, but the Spirit of God said, Read it again, Danielle, and this time put your name in there.”
…Danielle will have life everlasting!
“I understood! He meant me—me personally. I said aloud, ‘I BELIEVE it!’ My Saviour answered my childhood prayer and wrote, born again and going to heaven on my slate.
“Each day I couldn’t wait till I was alone again to read my Testament. The Word was like cool refreshing water pouring over my completely dry sponge. I skipped lunch and breakfast to read and read!”
It was a lonely journey for Danielle with no one to share her joy. Her gospel message wasn’t favourably received in her small French Catholic community. She made many enemies, but her New Testament had become her life’s passion.
“You can imagine me telling everybody that I’m saved and going to heaven. My family thought I’d lost it! I’d gone from sleeping my life away to being bananas! Imagine knowing you are going to heaven! Who talks like that?” Danielle shares with laughter.
Growing In Truth
Danielle absorbed the Word of God alone. When she didn't understand a passage, she would ask God to help her. The Holy Spirit would give her the book and chapter, which she understands now as cross-referencing. God just kept writing truth on the white slate of her life.
Eventually she found fellowship in a Bible-teaching church. Over the past 44 years, God has given Danielle more tools to share with people, including some French Bibles for the mission field of her Quebec village. And to her great joy, one family member after another came to know the Lord!
Carte blanche. A petite, fiery French girl started over with a white slate as God wrote the living Word on her heart.