Over the years we have had many volunteers who came to assist us with correspondence and the publication of Jerusalem Perspective magazine. It has been a tremendous blessing to work with dedicated persons who responded to our call for help and stayed here for up to two years. Barbara has “survived” longer than any previous volunteer. Her dedication and determination are extraordinary, and her delightful manner is a joy to all those who have contact with her.
Q: Could you tell us a bit about yourself?
A: I was born in March, 1935 in Wales, where I received my basic education. I had several jobs there, but the most colourful was with a subsidiary of the Guinness Brewery. I married early and had three sons within seven years. We moved to England and I trained to become a teacher of five- to thirteen-year-old children. During my first year as a teacher I divorced my husband. I worked in a number of schools over the next seventeen years, during which time I became a believer and became interested in Israel and the Jewish people. In 1975 I married a retired Anglican clergyman. We visited Israel twice, and I visited Israel ten more times before coming to stay. My husband passed away in 1994 and later that year I came on a tour to Israel where I met David and Josa Bivin. David offered me a job and here I am, and enjoying every minute of it.
Q: At what point in your life were you able to define your being drawn to the Jewish people and Israel?
A: In 1967 when I was in college training to be a teacher, Israel was in the news because of the Six Day War. I became interested in what was going on. After I became a believer at the end of 1976, I got involved in an “Intercessors for Britain” group. We were asked to specify another country for which we would like to pray. I found myself choosing Israel. I could not have told you why. In 1981 I met a group of people who were moving from country to country, on their way to Jerusalem. They called themselves “Pilgrims to Jerusalem.” At that time they included people from Norway, France, the Faroe Islands and Denmark. They set up a big tent in the local park, and preached about, among other things, the importance of holiness in our lives. My life was forever changed. I spent most of my spare time with them, hooked by their different way of life. They lived love. Eventually, I gave up my teaching job—I no longer had time to do it properly. Between 1981 and 1984 I traveled to places in Europe where the Pilgrims were holding conferences. I had no money, but God provided. At Antwerp I met a Jew for the first time. He quickly became like a son to my husband and me. Through him we were invited to Israel for the first time.
Q: What made it possible for you to come to Israel in 1994? Tell us about the trip’s surprise ending.
A: In June of 1994 my husband died. In September I was involved in a car accident and my car was written off. The insurance company paid me more than I had paid for the car, enabling me to take part in a wonderful tour of Israel. The tour concluded with a conference. Among the conference speakers were David Bivin and Dwight Pryor, with whose teaching I was already familiar. During the tour it had dawned on me that I was free to return to Israel after the tour to study Hebrew. At the conference I asked for David’s advice about how I could stay in Israel as a student. In the course of that conversation I learned that David and Josa needed a worker for the JP office. After returning to England with my tour group, I came back to Israel and “tried out” in the JP office for seven weeks. By the end of the third week, I knew this was right for me. I returned to England, packed up my home and within two weeks was back in Israel to stay.
Q: Describe what things have helped you feel at home in Israel.
A: First of all, I have peace. I seem to be in “a flow.” Also, my health has improved enormously. I lived with David and Josa at first. Then I found a nearby apartment and I just never looked back. Now I have an even better apartment with a garden, a dog and two cats. The neighbours are very friendly and I have made many friends.
Q: What have been the most memorable moments you’ve had in Israel?
A: One of the my most memorable moments was my sixtieth birthday. I had been here only a month when David and Josa left for a three-month speaking tour. I had only a few friends, and I used to meet with them on Saturday evenings for Bible study and prayer. Some were people I had met in England. They invited me over for an impromptu meeting and, lo and behold, it was a birthday party. I was so blessed!
Q: You have three sons. Tell us about them.
A: Melvyn is the eldest, Robert the second and David the third. Melvyn and Robert are married. Between them they have given me eight grandchildren and a great-grandson, now two years old. David is not married.
Q: Tell us more about your son David.
A: Just after his twenty-third birthday, David had an accident while riding his motorcycle doing cross-country stuff. He hit a tree and broke his neck. He is almost totally paralyzed; however, he now lives very independently in a rented bungalow in England. He has a live-in caregiver and is surrounded by a variety of electronic gadgets that help him in his daily life. I am proud of him. He is not bitter, has an interest in many things and has adapted very well to his change of lifestyle. Of my three sons, David has been the most supportive of my move to Israel.
Q: If there was one thing you could share with those who are reading this interview, what would it be?
A: We never know where the Lord will lead us, or what He will ask of us. Many people would like to come and live here in Israel, and many people do come. However, some of those who come are not called to be here, and for some who are called, the timing is not right. Sharing from my own experience, I can say that if the Lord is with you, then no matter where you are or what you do, you have peace. I am not trying to say that it is all a bed of roses. Far from it! But, there is a peace.