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Sager Story

Sager Story

Graduating from Southern Adventist University in May of 1979 was one of the most exciting and humbling days of my life.

Growing up in England in the 50's and 60's was a tumultuous time for me. Flower power and the Beatles were very popular at the time and had distinct influences in my life. Due to unfortunate circumstances in my home, I ended up living with foster parents and was away from my family. School did not excite me though I found myself to be a deep thinker and, like many others, a seeker of Truth. This was a difficult time for my family as I joined ranks with hippies who lived in a squat in London. I soon found out that living in a squat is only temporary.

Before long I became disillusioned with that way of life and wanted something deeper and more real. I was watching news reports from the East and read that the Beatles traveled to India to consult with gurus and go to ashrams, and I found myself thinking about India a lot. I had attended a Buddhist monastery in Scotland and really liked it. I had been raised in the Church of England but, as many do, I did not see a relevance of Christianity in my own life. I wanted to explore for myself and to find God so, with $500.00, a back pack, and 1 year open return airline ticket I set off to India in search of God. I had told my friends that I would stay until I had found God, and that I knew I would find Him there. I was prepared to go to any length to find peace of mind.

As it happened, my original travel plans were delayed one week and my departure date was changed. After a sleepless night, I arrived at Heathrow airport excited and tired. I joined the queue of people at the check-in counter and was pleased to see a lady with a large trunk with Bombay written on it in big letters. We chatted a little and then went on to secure our passage. Soon it was time to board the plane. I quickly secured a window seat in a row of three seats. Imagine my delight when the same lady I had met at the ticket counter needed a place to sit. She, her husband, and two sons were almost the last to board the plane. It seemed those seats were left open just for them.

It was a hot August day and we were left sitting on the tarmac for 2 hours. We were all quite uncomfortable but started to converse to pass the time. The lady, whose name was Joan, asked me why I was going to Bombay? She was a little concerned that I was traveling alone. I assured her that I was quite ok and comfortable about it. I had done a lot of reading about India and on how to navigate and survive there. Actually, at that time (1975), lots of young people made the same trek, so it did not seem so strange to me. I told her I was going to India to find God, had put my all into it, and was certain it would be so.

I shared with Joan some of my childhood experiences and time living in London with the hippies. I told her how I had become disillusioned with life and the status quo. To me, it seemed that there must be a higher purpose and meaning to life, and I wanted to find that in India. After a while, I asked Joan and her husband, John, why they were going to India. They informed me that they were Christian missionaries returning to India after a furlough. I became a little uneasy sitting there with them. I told Joan that my brother had advised me not to get involved with Christians, and I had assured him that I had no intention to do so and would not. How funny life is sometimes. The very thing we run away from, we end up becoming!

After our arrival in Cairo, we were informed that our flight would again be delayed and that the airline was putting us up in a hotel until the next day. As it turned out, when keys were thrown on the counter, I was paired with a Muslim man and there was no other room! John quickly made the offer for me to room with Joan, and he took my assigned place. How kind these people were. That night, as Joan knelt beside her bed to pray, I asked her if she had a happy marriage. She replied that it was difficult to be upset with somebody when kneeling together each night for prayer.

The next morning we had breakfast together and then continued our journey. I was anxious to get to Bombay and find the main post office. I had made arrangements to pick up a letter there from an Indian charity, as I wanted to spend some time in an Indian village so I could help children or teach hygiene. When we arrived in Bombay, it was Friday night. The post office was closed until Monday in celebration of a national holiday. My plan was to sleep in the airport for a few nights and wait, but John and Joan would hear nothing of it. I did not know enough to be afraid, but Joan did.

I soon found myself in a friendly missionary's apartment with a comfortable pallet on the floor in the living room. And so the story evolved. I ended up going home with John and Joan to the mission compound in Pune. I stayed with them for three weeks while I waited for my letter to tell me which Indian village to go to. Those were lovely times.

When the church bell rang, I invited myself to attend with the other members of the compound. I grew close to Joan. When it was finally time for me to leave, she gave me her address and made me promise to write. What a sweet send-off she gave me at the train station.

I did stay in an Indian village for about 4 months where I lived in a mud hut. There I saw raw Hinduism and idol worship first hand. I did not know how people could believe in Krishna and a god with many trunks. I loved the children and we learned to speak to each other as I helped them to learn English. As promised, I stayed in touch with Joan.

During my time in the Indian village, I met Christian doctors who invited me to their home. Some pre-med students heard about a white woman in the village and brought me a Bible. I ran into Christians everywhere I turned. It was all part of God's plan, I'm sure.

After four months, and many exciting adventures, I became ill. I received a letter from Joan inviting me to come back to the mission because they needed a helper in their school. I went to the mission and Joan and the other missionaries looked after me. During that time, I attended church and found a truth that I had never heard. I did not know that Jesus was coming back to save us. I started to study the Bible, and a few months later John baptized me in the same baptismal tank he was baptized in twenty two years previously. What a day of rejoicing it was!

So, I was loved into the Seventh-day Adventist Church. I had found the truth I was seeking and the knowing that had been in my heart became reality for me. The next step had to be planned. I was lacking in self-confidence, but all the missionaries agreed that I should go to America to a Seventh-day Adventist school and become a nurse.

Through a series of miraculous events, I found myself again boarding a plane for the next part of my journey. I ended up at Southern Adventist University, where I received my nursing degree. I later went on to be a Nurse Practitioner and have been able to live out Southern's mission by serving others every single day. I have never regretted the hard work and sleepless nights that it took to finish my education. I could not have done it without financial help from generous donors and alumni. It is now my time to give back that which I received. Today I consider it an honor to encourage and teach other students from LPN students to Nurse Practitioner candidates who are seeking a nursing career.

Recently, when I met with my financial advisor, he suggested a way where I could leave a future gift to Southern that would leave a legacy far beyond what I ever imagined while also providing for my family tax free. He told me about forming an endowment fund that would provide nursing student scholarships until Jesus comes.

It is so exciting for me to know that there is an endowment that will bear my name at Southern Adventist University. After receiving such an amazing gift myself, I cannot wait to share with others who are preparing for a life of service. It truly is a legacy.