I grew up in a small town to a devout protestant family. Although the church had a great deal of influence on who I would become in the future, as a child and teenager, I spent much of my younger years alone and isolated. You see, unbeknownst to family and friends, I lived a secret life. From the time I was young, I could sense things that others could not. I was labelled, “sensitive” or “timid”, names to this day that I still loathe. I had spiritual experiences when I was a child that would have frightened most people, so I did not say a word. But like Mary, the mother of our Lord, I held these experiences secretly in the recesses of my heart.
Many years later, after a traumatic family event, I decided to leave the church due to the treatment my family received by them. I hated the church, and wanted nothing to do with them. If this was God’s Love, I wanted nothing to do with Him, either.
My twenties past by. In college I still visited the Salvation Army church across the road from my dorm every now and then. I still had spiritual “visitations”, as I had come to call them. But none of it made much impact. Still, I did not know the Lord, personally. Still, I was solitary and alone.
After a dramatic turn of events, I found myself after university in a job in graphic design in Toronto, Ontario. Knowing no one, close to 8 years passed by as I lived silently as a hermit. I did not have a friend in the world, except my boyfriend at the time, who was also essentially a recluse.
Then, not long after the beginning of my 30th year, after months of wondering if God actually existed or not and several books on secular spirituality and meditation, I had what I call my “lightening bolt from the blue” experience from God. He said hello in a way I would never have fathomed, and in a way I would never forget.
After that experience, I began having what some Christians call “prophetic” experiences. I began to be able to hear God speak, audibly, in my mind’s ear. I was intrigued, more than frightened. Over time, these words and sentences became entire messages, and I soon found myself sent out on divine “errands” to reveal God’s love to pastors, Christians, and total strangers. I prophesied messages of hope and redirection to clergy, the homeless, counselors, social workers, and many others. It was a life of intense drama, amazing transformations, and intense spiritual warfare. I loved it. My boredom with the world had finally been solved.
Not long after I gave my life to Christ in earnest, my career took a complete nose-dive. Instead of being a self-sufficient designer, I was left volunteering with the homeless, serving those who I felt might become daily companions of mine in the near future.
One night, during this decline, I had a dream that would change my life. In the dream, I saw an abandoned city alleyway, paper’s blowing around, and empty bike racks. The street was empty. It was night time, and the road made a sharp turn to the left. Somehow, in the dream, I knew that this place spoke of the homeless. I then heard a voice that told me that from this moment onward, my life would be dedicated to saving these people, and that some of the least of those I would help save, would be the greatest in God’s Kingdom.
After I awoke, I knew that nothing would ever be the same again. As the months passed, I indeed, lost everything. I could not land a job if my life depended on it. I tried everything. Every time I got a job offer, something would always come by and rip the rug out from under my feet. After several months, I lost everything, and became, as I feared, one of the “hidden homeless”, someone living on the sheer grace of friends and family, without a home or apartment to call their own. This went on for over a year and a half.
After a myriad of experiences during that time, I realized that God was molding me and making me into a person who could truly understand the plight of those I was born to help. I then had the opportunity to go and retrain in college. I was guided to take Early Childhood Education, a field that I was told, was the key to homelessness prevention, for it is only at the tender age of a child, that the seeds of hopelessness could be replaced with seeds of self-worth.
It is here that I now reside, walking day by day with the Lord, as He reveals to me the reward and treasure of my following Him, to the forsaking of all others. It has literally cost me everything – but I have also gained everything.
It has not been easy. There have been financial and health-related hairpin turns every moment. There is still much to be determined. It is by sheer grace alone, that I am completing my courses, and establishing a respected reputation in the field at the same time. There is much that awaits, but with God, all things are possible.
– Janet Fowlow