A Heritage Project story: We are God’s handiwork

Nellie De Vries interviewed by her grand-daughter Renessa Visser

Describe a hymn or worship song that has played a significant role in your faith journey and explain why.

Nellie’s favourite hymn is “Exultation in God” based on Psalm 138, which she heard when she was 19. The phrase “the work I have on you begun, shall by my grace be fully done” made a big impact on her. It provided a lot of comfort, reminding her that she is God’s workmanship.

What is something valuable that you have learned about relationships over the years?

A very important lesson Nellie learned is that no one is perfect. Because of this, people will let us down sooner or later. People do this unconsciously; it has nothing to do with us, it is just a part of human nature. “We will let our friends and family down in the same way they disappoint us,” Nellie told me. “No human relationship is perfect.”

Identify a Bible verse or passage that has been important in your faith journey and describe why.

Ephesians 1:11-12 is one of Nellie’s favourite Bible verses. “In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory.” This is a verse that relieves worry and helps to remind Nellie that God is in control. Everything that happens to us is part of his plan.

What does “home” mean to you? What significance does living in Canada hold for you?

To Nellie, home is not a place or a building. Any place where she is among family to care for – a place of belonging – is a home to Nellie. She immigrated from Holland 67 years ago, and finds living in Canada is a rich blessing.

What rituals or traditions have you created or upheld over the years? Why?

Every time Nellie’s family gathers together, she upholds the tradition of painting with her family. Painting is one of Nellie’s most well-loved hobbies, and she is very grateful that she is able to share it with her daughters. On New Year’s celebrations with Nellie’s family, she practices the tradition of reading a poem that reflects upon the past year.

Describe one significant challenge, struggle or tragedy that you have experienced and how this has shaped your life.

Nellie is very thankful to say that she has experienced no significant tragedies in her life. However, when one of her grandchildren died from crib death, it made her realize how valuable life is. It was very hard to understand why such a thing would happen. Struggling with this tragedy caused Nellie to appreciate every moment of life, especially the gift of having children and grandchildren.

What has been the hardest part of growing older?

The process of growing older isn’t hard for Nellie. She told me, “Old age isn’t a tragedy; it’s what you make of it.” She has found that it has taught her to appreciate the lasting value of the Christian faith and her God-given future, which has made her old age “wonderful.”

What are some questions you still wonder about? What are you learning right now?

Nellie wonders about the future of the next generation as Christian values disappear, and what her grandchildren will have to face. But she has found that worrying about these things isn’t worthwhile – it’s much more valuable to trust God.

What advice or encouragement would you give to your generation?

Nellie’s advice to her generation would be: “Trust God for the future!” God has a plan for our lives, and as Christians, we can look forward to a future with him.

If you could give one piece of advice to the next generation of Christians, what would it be?

Nellie’s advice to the next generation of Christians would be to “resist the world’s temptations.” The world’s influence is everywhere. It is impossible to escape, and the only way to stand against it is to stand in Jesus. Another piece of advice Nellie has to offer is to marry someone who shares similar Christian values and faith. This makes it so much easier to raise children and provide a continuity of beliefs in the home.

The Heritage Project brings generations together to learn from one another through asking questions like those in this article! Send your interview with a loved friend or family member to ac.reiruocnaitsirhc@tcejorpegatireh.

  • Renessa Visser is a 13-year-old homeschooled student living in Burlington, Ont.

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