I left Singapore newly liberated to think of myself in terms of an individual for the first time. Up until that time—like most Asians—I always had viewed myself as part of a group, either my family or a Gospel team. Although I had no idea what special work God would have for me as an individual, I began thinking of doing my “personal best” for Him. The seeds for future change had been planted, and nothing could stop the approaching storms in my life.
While my greatest passion was still for the unreached villages of the North, I now was traveling all over India.
On one of these speaking trips in 1973, I was invited to teach at the spring Operation Mobilization training conference in Madras (now Chennai). That was where I first saw the attractive German girl. As a student in one of my classes, she impressed me with the simplicity of her faith. Soon I found myself thinking that if she were an Indian, she would be the kind of woman I would like to marry some day.
Once, when our eyes met, we held each other’s gaze for a brief, extra moment, until I self-consciously broke the spell and quickly fled the room. I was uncomfortable in such male-female encounters. In our culture, single people seldom speak to each other. Even in church and on Gospel teams, the sexes are kept strictly separate.
Certain that I would never again see her, I pushed the thought of the attractive German girl from my mind. But marriage was on my mind. I had made a list of the six qualities I most wanted in a wife and frequently prayed for the right choice to be made for me.
Of course, in India, marriages are arranged by the parents, and I would have to rely on their judgment in selecting the right person for my life partner. I wondered where my parents would find a wife who was willing to share my mobile lifestyle and commitment to the work of the Gospel. But as the conference ended, plans for the summer outreach soon crowded out these thoughts.