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18. India, Pakistan or Australia?

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For a brief moment, let’s return back to the autumn of 1966. When Sven had met Marianne for a few times she had talked about the possibilities of immigrating to Australia. At this time, the Australian government paid the travel expenses for Swedish emigrants because they wanted to attract immigrants from northern Europe. The only condition was that they stayed in Australia for at least two years. Sven thought that this was a good opportunity to learn some English for future missionary work in India.

Sven speaks: I submitted an application to the Australian Embassy in Stockholm. In late January 1967, I received a granted visa and permission to travel. This allowed me to stay in Australia for one year.

I have previously told you about what happened during the winter and spring of 1967. Sometimes the thoughts about Australia came back to me but it did not feel like it was the right path for me. My plan was to be a missionary in India. On the Nyhem Week, in June 1967, I came in contact with Stanley Sjöberg who at the time was a pastor in the Filadelfia Church in Stockholm. Since his brother, Kjell Sjöberg, was a missionary in Pakistan, I asked Stanley what I would have to do to get an Indian visa. He replied that it was basically impossible to get a visa in India as a missionary. Although, I could possibly get a visa in Pakistan – it was almost the same type of people as in India. "Maybe that's what God wants you to do," Stanley continued. I thought that maybe this could be God 's will. Stanley asked me to contact him once I got back to Stockholm so that we could talk further about this.

When I later met with Stanley, he suggested that I should go for a three-months´ English course in England. After this, I would be able to go to Pakistan and learn the Indian and Pakistani language “Urdu” for one year. When the course in Urdu was done, I would start helping Kjell Sjöberg with his missionary work in Pakistan.

At this point, Marianne and I had started to go out together. We naturally thought about how all of this could be combined in a shared future. Our plan entailed Marianne travelling to Pakistan as soon as I had established myself there so that we could get married.

The income of an evangelist on the Mälar Islands had been very modest so I had not been able to save much money. Thus, it wouldn’t be easy for me to go to England for language studies. I wouldn’t be able to go to England unless "God arranged the money" somehow. One evening, as Marianne and I were on one of the tent meetings held by Filadelfia Church, Stanley asked me to come up on the stage and say a few words at the end of the worship service and invite people to receive prayer. After the service, Stanley tells me that he had received a promise to take up a secondary offering during a youth service. The money received during this service would be a gift to finance my trip to England.

The secondary offering consisted of 3000 kronor (SEK) and it was just enough to pay for my stay in England. As I mentioned earlier, I quit my service as an evangelist on the Mälar Islands and traveled to England on the 3rd of September in 1967. It was the same day that Sweden changed from left- to right-hand traffic.


Sven at Bromma Airport on the 3rd of September 1967 on his way to England.

Before Marianne and I went to England, I had received suggestions for three guest-houses that could solve the question of living accommodation during my stay in England. My English was so bad which meant that I could not manage on my own. Marianne had to come with me and ask if there was a room available to rent. None of these three sites had a room left to rent. Now, I was very perplexed. Marianne had to board the ship, which would take her to Australia, the same day. Before we took a tender farewell of each other, she left me a note with the address of a Birgitta. This Birgitta lived in Birmingham and was the daughter of one of my aunts, in other words my cousin. Marianne had, along with my parents, made a visit to this aunt when I was on the Mälar Islands holding the farewell meetings. Because of this, she had received the address of Bigitta. If Marianne had not visited my aunt, I would not have had a clue where in England my cousin Birgitta lived.

When Marianne had gone, Birgitta was the only contact I had in England. I went there and luckily she and her husband were at home. I was welcome to stay there a few days. I got help with writing letters to the three guest-houses that I had already visited. After a few days, Birgitta made a phone call to one of the guest-houses. One of them had a room available, since one of the lodgers had to travel back to Germany for family reasons. On the following Monday, I got access to the room and on the Tuesday I was able to begin my studies as planned. God was with me all along and helped me out with everything.

The studies went pretty well. After I had been in England half of the 3 months, I received a letter from Stanley Sjöberg where he told me that it seemed impossible to get a visa for me, allowing me to travel to Pakistan. "You really need to pray to God about this," Stanley said.

During the last six months, everything had “fallen into place” but now it felt as if I was “up against a wall”. I had felt like I was “walking the waves” and I had thought that it would always remain like this, but now I felt as if I was suddenly “drowning”. I threw myself down on my knees and cried out to God: "What is this? What is happening?" There on my knees, God spoke to me: "Sven, stand up and look out through the window". I stood up, looked out and saw an aero- plane in the sky. After the plane I saw the condensed, white stripe that spread out like a path across the sky. The Holy Spirit spoke to me: "Sven, you cannot see the road on which the plane is on, but after it has flown you can see its traces very clearly. This applies to your life as well. At the moment, you cannot see the road ahead of you, but later on you will be able to look back at your life and see how I have led you through it all". This filled me with joy and made me jump around the room. I praised God that I was still in the midst of His will for my life. Therefore, I spent no more time worrying about how it would all work out with money and support.

When I had finished the course in England, I travelled home to my parents in Skåne. One day my father said to me: "Sven, you have a student loan of 500 kronor (SEK) that needs to be paid on the 31st of December 1967". "I know", I replied. One might think that this was not that much money, but for me, who was currently broke, this was a huge sum. The 3000 kronor (SEK) had been just enough to include travel, studies and living expenses and now I was completely broke. "How are you going to pay back the loan?" my father continued. "I don’t know." was my answer. "Maybe you could ask CG Colleen if you could work there for a while", he suggested. But this was not an option for me since my plan was to, at the beginning of next year, travel to Pakistan. Yet again, I turned to God and asked for His help. I felt confident that he would solve it all.

This was just before the Swedish Pentecostal Pastors Conference in Stockholm was to start so I hitched a ride with a truck up to Stockholm. We arrived at four in the morning. I had been promised that I could stay with Leif's parents, Asta and Walfrid Kennerberg, but it was way too early to go to them at that time so I went to the Central Station to warm myself up for a bit.

During the Swedish Pentecostal Pastors Conference I met my old evangelist colleague, Lars-Ivar Nilsson. He was, along with Gideon Johansson, arranging a worship service in Skå on Wednesday evening. They suggested that I should come with them, and so I did. After Gideon Johansson's sermon, Axel Rosen, who led the service, stepped up and said, "I don’t think Gideon Johansson o Lars -Ivar are in any crucial need but Sven, who just came home from England, is probably out of money. So I suggest we start a subscription and give the money to Sven ". Luckily, I was sitting on the front bench, so no one could see the tears running down my cheeks when I once again got a confirmation that God cared for me. The sum of money was not more than 26 kronor (SEK) but for me, this was a first sign of God’s provision for me in need.

Of course, I still wondered how I would gather the money that I needed, so I thought I should go and visit my old landlord, brother Kihlberg. On a few occasions some time earlier he had blessed me with a hundred kronor here and there. I thought that if I visited him, he might give me a little bit of money. Said and done, I took the bus to go to him. But I somehow felt that the Holy Spirit was trying to stop me and said, "Sven, you must not go to Kihlberg". "But I need the money," I thought. "No, you must not go to him. You must go to the Pentecostal Church in Bromma". I jumped off the bus and went to join the worship service in Bromma. When I was about to leave the church after the service, an elderly lady greeted me and pressed a note into my hand and said:

"The Lord needs it."

"I need nothing." I replied stupidly.

"Do not argue ", she said and repeated: "The Lord needs it."

When I looked down at my hand, I saw that she had given me a 100-kronor note. That was what I had hoped Kihlberg would give me. God showed me that he was in control of the situation.

Since it the time was heading toward Christmas, I hitchhiked home to Skåne. On December 26th, I only had 126 kronor. But on December 27th, the first weekday after Christmas, a postal order of 500 kronor (SEK) came for me from one of my sister Ulla's fellow students. She lived in northern Finland. The postcard simply said “My mother's tithe”, and nothing else. Next day, there was another postal order of 300 kronor for me. On the third day, there was another one. In two weeks all of these postal orders added up to about 3000 kronor (SEK) from people who had no reasons at all to send all this money to me. My mother and father could not believe their eyes. This was a lot of money for me at that time. I paid off the loan and bought me some clothes that I was in great need of.

It was January 1968 and, still, I had no information about support in order to travel to Pakistan. I called Stanley Sjöberg several times to hear if it had worked out. But the response was negative every time. The Filadelfia Church in Stockholm was the only one that had given response and they had promised 100 kronor (SEK) a month but this would not get me far. I could not travel without granted support since I would only be a burden to other missionaries in Pakistan.







At last, I told Stanley, "When I pray over my situation, I feel that I should maybe go to Australia to help Marianne's brother. He is currently in the process of starting a church in Mount Isa. I will call the Australian Embassy and ask if there are any unoccupied seats on the emigrant flight". The thing was that, according to the granted visa I have told you about before, I had to be in Australia by January 28th 1968. We were already in the middle of January that year. The embassy told me that there were three people who had not yet confirmed that they were going to Australia. On Wednesday, January 17th, I was informed that I had a seat on the flight on Friday, January 19th.

I called Stanley and told him about the new circumstances. I also made it clear to him that if he could somehow make it likely that the support for Pakistan would be solved, I was willing to turn back even if I was already at the airport on my way to Australia. However, if this did not happen I would take it as a sign from God that I ought to travel to Australia. No new information came from Stanley so on that Friday I flew from Gothenburg to London and from London to Australia.

During the trip, I exchanged my last money into Australian dollars. I exchanged 1000 kronor (SEK). This was very interesting, because a year earlier, when I applied for a visa to Australia, I had to specify how much money I would take with me. Since I did not have any money at that time, I simply wrote that I would take 1000 kronor with me. Again, God confirmed that I was on the right track. Now, a year later, I had that exact amount of money to take with me – 1000 kronor. For a moment I thought that I had been really stupid to not write a larger amount of money like 10000 kronor or why not 100,000 kronor. (Sven laughs a lot when thinking back on this event today.)

The trip went well and I arrived at Marianne's parents' home in Cairns. It was her mother who opened the door when I had knocked. It took a while before I got to see Marianne because she had her head full of hair rollers and refused to come out of the bathroom before she had sorted her hair out. It turned out that she had no idea that I was coming. My last letter had not arrived due to postal employees being on strike in Australia during this period of time.

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