Prayer is like conversation – it takes time
Dany Pen is no stranger to the loving kindness of the church. Growing up, she heard stories of how her mother, pregnant with her at the time, fled the genocide in Cambodia and arrived in the United States with the help of United Missionaries.
After immigrating to New York and then Toronto, her family’s living expenses were sponsored by the church.
“For the first four years of my childhood, I literally lived in the church,” explained Ms Pen, a longtime Bermuda resident. “My playground was running up and down the pews, drawing on the chalkboard and flickering the lights on and off in the main halls. The church also turned one of their Bible study rooms into a bedroom for us.”
She recalled it as a very loving and caring environment that ultimately helped shape her faith.
Even when she got older and interested in doing things “[her] own way”, she felt God’s presence in her life directing her along her path.
“God never left my side and had the utmost patience with me,” she said. “So many times, I told Him I wasn’t ready to come back home because I still wanted to be out there ‘playing’ and was not ready to take up His shield and sword.
“By the time I realised I had gone so far from God and made so many reckless, selfish decisions that caused me so much pain and suffering, I didn’t think I could receive God’s mercy and grace. I didn’t think I could still be called on to be one of His soldiers.
“But God is patient and He is kind and all-loving. I would be called to take up His shield and sword, and at first, I kept saying ‘Not yet, I’m not ready’.
“Much of my response came from a place of not feeling I was good enough to be one of His soldiers, but then I received the calling again and finally I said, ‘If I am worthy. I am ready for the battle. I am all yours’.”
Today Ms Pen is a faithful member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
She’s seen God open up doors for her on the island where she’s served as a Human Rights commissioner and helped found Women’s ACT, an organisation that helps victims of domestic abuse and violence.
God further blessed her with the news that Ontario College of Art and Design would present her with its World Builder Award.
The honour is given to alumni of the Canadian school who have made substantive contributions to global causes.
Ms Pen has also seen how her faith has impacted the lives of her son Aries, 12, and daughter, Sokiera, 11.
From a young age, they have taken part in youth ministry and weekly Bible studies as Seventh-day Adventists.
“My children have also always witnessed my love and dedication to God.
“I am a big believer in prayer and there is definitely healing power in it also. I have made sure that above all things, prayer is the most important skill I could teach my children.
“We always pray together every day and night as a family and on our own.
“I’ve set up a prayer room and wall in the house for our family and we also have a prayer book in our house.”
She encourages other parents hoping to raise God-centred children to lead by example.
“Many of us do prayer in private but in order to teach our children how to have conversations with God, we need to allow our children to hear how our conversations with God are like,” she said. “We can show our children how we give thanks, how we make requests, how we ask for guidance and how to share our concerns.
“I believe that prayer takes time — just like any deep conversation. It is through prayer we learn how patient God is when we need him to listen to us.
“He does not leave us mid-prayer or interrupt us. He listens and then responds with the spirit of truth.
“We have the choice to hear the truth or close our minds, eyes, and ears to it, but it is choice. Prayers are always answered, but in God’s timing.”