Servant Unto All
By Sabine Ball (1925 – 2009) as told to Donna F. McClellan
[Editor’s Note: The following account is reprinted from the August 1981 issue of Herald of His Coming.]
There was a time when I believed a person’s greatness depended upon his financial security, prominence and personal achievement. I strove for the “highest seat,” and though I attained a measure of success in the world’s eyes, it was a joyless pursuit.
After I met Jesus, He began to show me a new way completely reversed from man’s concept of greatness. Jesus said He came not be served, but to serve. “He that is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted” were the Lord’s words to His disciples, the crowds and to me (Matt. 23:11-12).
There are many ways to serve and the one God chose for me started with the Gospel Outreach ministry. Off I went six years ago as the oldest of 22 young men and women who opened up the “Shepherd’s House” in the slum area of Brooklyn. Our doors were open to those in need and many came to know Jesus as Lord and Savior.
We were self-supporting and found jobs all over the city. I was head of a group of women whom God called to serve as housekeepers. My old pride was replaced by His love as He taught me how to be diligent and to walk that extra mile while strengthening me physically. Menial tasks, once sheer drudgery, became joyful opportunities to befriend and minister to those often spiritually neglected wealthy people.
This proved to be only the beginning of God’s plan for me. After a time I went to Miami to visit my two sons, intending to stay the winter months. God had given me a tremendous burden for the Jewish people (I was German-born and raised under the Hitler regime) and I longed to bring Christ’s love into that holocaust of hate. After registering with a South Miami Beach homemaker service, I received a call from an 80-year-old Jewish widow whose one requirement was that the housekeeper speak German, as did she. How could I doubt this clear sign from the Lord?
It was not love at first sight on her part. She really did not want a stranger around, and complained it was her son who insisted she needed help. Little by little, though, I gained her confidence and friendship as Jesus filled me with love and compassion for this precious soul so dear to Him. Over and over I listened to her stories about her father who was a physician and counselor to the people of their town, her mother who suffered from asthma, her school years, her friendships and her leaving the hometown and fleeing to Paris and later, the United States. She would forget how often she repeated each story, but the Lord taught me to be a patient listener.
One evening I invited her and two friends, also Jewish widows, to a Christian fellowship across town in Coral Gables at a Spirit-filled Lutheran Church. The pastor, Rev. Harry Fullilove, gave a teaching on Romans 11, and as he talked about the hardening of the hearts of the Lord’s people, I was hanging onto my seat fearing they would not even want to drive home with me.
To my amazement they all loved the pastor and were overwhelmed by the love of all the people for them. One said, “At last, I see clearly,” and another, “Do you realize what you have here – I can’t get over it!” From then on, they could hardly wait to return each week as the Lord drew them ever closer to Himself.
Since this job lasted only until 1:00 p.m. each day, I also needed somewhere to sleep close by, and trusted the Lord to find a place. I put an ad in the paper for a sleep-in cooking job and was called for an interview to an elegant home where a stern looking butler opened the door. I was frightened for I had never worked as a gourmet cook in such a household even though I had cooked a thousand meals for others. The lady of the house, Mrs. K___, scrutinized me closely and said she was a perfectionist. I was led through a spotless kitchen to a tiny dark room that was to be my sleeping quarters.
My thoughts went back to the time when I had servants and lived amongst the high society of Miami. I had given up this life for a long, persistent and painful search for the truth which took me as far away as India, and finally ended when I found Jesus, the One who is “the Way, the Truth, the Life.” And now, here I was back in a house which would have meant so much to me.
Mrs. K___ was totally reserved, showing no interest in me or my life and did not let me in on hers. She gave me endless lists of duties in minutest detail, never trusting me to think for myself. Even when I went beyond all she asked, it seemed I could never do enough. I started to question God. Had I made a mistake coming into a house so spiritually dead?
He answered through His Word, “Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; with good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men: knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free” (Eph. 6:5-8).
The K___’s left for Europe and Mr. K___’s parents moved in to help with their two children. The first evening they were in the house I noticed a warmth that had come in with them, and the house became a home for us all. One night after mopping the kitchen floor, I walked back to the family room and Mrs. K___, Sr. asked me to sit down. Her eyes were clear and seemed to look right through me. She started to ask me questions, and when I told her I was a born-again Christian, she seemed to understand what that meant.
“I am seeking, Sabine, I want to know the truth – I must find out,” she confided. A seed had already been planted by a neighbor who had gone to be with the Lord. This neighbor was also a Jew and had accepted Jesus as her Messiah. As I saw God’s purpose for leading me to this home, my heart leapt for joy. Mr. K___, Sr. did not want us to talk “religion” so whenever he was there we kept silent.
Then one day God brought me home earlier than usual, and Mrs. K___ and I found ourselves alone in the family room. She said that if only she could receive some signs of His presence she would feel so elated. Later on as I was in the kitchen, she came in, holding her head in pain, walking toward the medicine chest.
“I have a terrible headache, the kind that lasts for days,” she said, and I heard God’s voice say, “Pray for her.” Another voice said, “What if it doesn’t work?” But I obeyed the Lord and told her He wanted me to pray for her. We both went into my room and sat on the bed.
Suddenly her whole expression changed. Her strong and searching eyes became like those of a little child – bewildered, surrendered, and all self-assurance was gone. I knew that she expected a miracle. As I asked Jesus to heal her, I became aware of His presence filling the room. And when finally her eyes opened, she was filled with ecstasy.
“Sabine, He healed me! The pain is completely gone! This is a miracle! I feel so elated inside. Something touched me.” We wept for joy, thanking and praising God.
Then she asked Jesus into her heart and was saved. What unsurpassable joy when one of His children comes home!
Now, God is leading me back to Germany. I wait with breathless anticipation to see the homes and hearts He longs to enter. Truly to serve Him is the greatest adventure of my life.
“For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more” (1 Cor. 9:19).
– Used by permission of the writer.