People from all over the world come to her with questions about faith and the Bible, but also pour their hearts out concerning relationship problems, unpleasantness at home, or addiction.
The 71 year old Fiona Vermeer from Drachten, The Netherlands is a mentor for GlobalRize. She guides students through the English language Bible course. She is also a coach for Biblword: she chats with people who seek contact with GlobalRize through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. ‘I have a bright, young spirit, if you don’t count the mornings’, she laughs.
Sixty young adults
In 2020 she led around sixty young adults to give themselves to God through the various chats. ‘Sometimes that comes easily, when they come to me with the question, ‘I’d like my sins to be forgiven, can you help me?’, Amazing, right?’ sighs Fiona. ‘I explain why we need Jesus as our Savior, so that they understand what it means to believe in God, and the resulting eternal life. When they are ready, I pray a sinner prayer with them. I don’t do that quickly in one chat, because they need to really understand what they are praying. They are giving their life over to God, becoming a born-again Christian. Afterward, I give them instructions to read the Bible and find a good to church to join. It’s a blessing to be busy with God’s Word.’
Interesting and useful
Fiona Vermeer can’t remember how she came upon GlobalRize (‘I surf a lot on the internet’), but she does know that she applied as a volunteer because missions work is interesting and useful for God, and that she can make use of her talents. ‘When asked, we pray for and with people, also for the answer to their problems. Volunteers try their best to mentor, also by sending articles, and to lead them to God’s Word.’
Hands in the air
‘It’s often students from Africa and Asia who begin the Bible course’, says Fiona. She is sad to see that sometimes there is little motivation to finish the whole course or it seems too difficult for some. But there are also very motivated students for her to work with. ‘Both of us experience God’s blessing while we are busy looking for more insight into God’s Word.’
Fiona values the contact that she has with male chatters, because she had a good bond with her father when she was young; she had two brothers, and raised three sons. ‘Sometimes young men become addicted to pornography, even when they know it is a terrible thing’, tells the volunteer. She once received the reply, ‘I’m gripped by the information and video’s that you sent me and I am using them. I am now free from my addiction.’ Fiona smiles, ‘Then I throw my hands up in the air and praise the Lord!’
Holding a mirror
Fiona tells that one man complained during a chat that his in-laws kept contact with his wife’s ex-fiancé. He fought a lot with his wife about it because he couldn’t stand it that the ex was more loved than he, their son-in-law, was. ‘I advised him to look at the situation carefully again’, tells Fiona. ‘I asked if people could choose their own friends. And that the one that his wife chose to be her husband had already won in this situation. Also, what woman can control if her parents keep contact with her ex?’
Fiona advised the man to apologize to his wife, since he had nothing to complain about, so that their marriage could grow. She also gave the tip to this chatter to be friendly to his in-laws, rather than bitter, which would help his popularity with them. The man admitted that he had never looked at the situation in this light, offered his excuses to his wife, and felt like he was respected, so that he and his wife were happy with the situation.
‘I am glad that you gave me a grounded answer that helped me to see it in the right perspective instead of just offering me nice words about patience and blessing, which is what often happens’, wrote someone for whom she had held the mirror to reflect on themselves.
When Fiona had just begun to take part in the Biblword chats, she gave a young man some advice about his marriage problems. ‘He felt devastated, but calmer after we had talked’, says Fiona. ‘The man was polite and respectful and asked who I was. He was surprised and happy to hear that I was a 70 year old woman and asked if he could call me ‘mother’ or ‘Mom’. We’ve been friends now for about a year; and his wife, with whom he is reunited, is also a part of our friendship. He shows me photos of his family, who have adopted me as ‘mom’, too. We regularly do Bible study together via Skype. This special friendship feels like a gift from God, a blessing for all of us.’
‘I chat with another young man who has been abandoned by his friends’, tells Fiona, who is thankful that God has given her a lot of love. ‘I let him tell his story, which seems to be embarrassing to tell his parents, and I try to let him focus on his future rather than the past. Happily, he has begun to see some light again.’
Hard to swallow
Sometimes it is hard to swallow when people ask for financial support and she can’t help them. ‘There is a lot of poverty among Christians in Muslim countries’, Fiona knows, and she brings those needs before God, ‘Lord, can You help them more? Wouldn’t it be a wonderful testimony for Your Name to the Muslims if You blessed Your children in their poverty?’ But she admits that every time she must recognize that God’s ways are higher than our ways. ‘Only He knows why His storehouse stays shut in so many cases.’
The saying, ‘Help others, then you help yourself’ really applies to me’, laughs Fiona. She can’t stand inactivity or uncertainty, because then she feels restless and wistful. She likes being busy with a purpose and being constructively involved with others in order to realize God’s purpose in their lives. ‘I can truly serve others and help them to follow God’s way, all the Glory to Him’, she says thankfully.