“Here they come! What is he teaching them today?” exclaimed a patient in the Men’s Ward of the Wellington General Hospital in New Zealand. Looking out of the window they saw a father with several children walking through the hospital grounds. A Christian nurse was often on duty in that ward and watched with amazement as the patients turned off their radios and opened the windows so they could hear the words as the family passed by them. Often he was teaching them from the Bible. That man was my father.

Teaching God’s Word to their children was a daily priority of both my father and mother, Noel and Florence Garratt. As the family grew to eleven children, so did the family home and we ended up with six bedrooms.

“Each morning my father laid a Bible on our pillows!”

Every morning my dad woke us singing the song, “Christians Awake, Salute the Happy Morn” as he went from room to room. He would enter each bedroom and read a few Scriptures, then lay a Bible on each pillow, encouraging us to read for ourselves and start our day with God.

Breakfast was shared together with family devotions, then, around 8:00 a.m., because he enjoyed exercise, my father walked to work and encouraged us to join him. His work was about two miles from our home and he had to pass the different schools we attended on the way. These were special times with our Dad.

My mother was a very loving, devoted woman, and a committed homemaker. I never heard her disagree with my dad or show any disrespect for him. In fact, it wasn’t until I was married that I came to understand that marriage wasn’t a long life of agreement, but that it takes a lot of courage and overcoming to grow together in unity. My parents made it look so easy, as they had their differences in private.

Mom wrote Scriptures by hand and put them up over the kitchen sink. Often these were verses she was memorizing, and she encouraged us to memorize them as well.

“The Bible was the most honored, most read and
most memorized book in our home!”

In the evenings, with all of the children in bed, the lights would go out and my father would stand in the center of our two-story home and tell us a Bible story. Through the years, he went through the Old and New Testaments over and over. The Word of God was sown repeatedly into our lives. It was the most honored, most read and most memorized book in our home. The seed that was sown had a major effect on all of our lives for the future. All continued to have open hearts to the Lord through our teenage years, and most of us spent much of our free time as young people serving the Lord in evangelistic endeavors.

Many years have now gone by. All the children have married and in turn have had their own children. All my brothers and sisters continue to serve the Lord to this day, several in a full-time capacity. My parents have 41 grandchildren and 51 great-grandchildren. My father continued telling Bible stories to his grandchildren and great-grandchildren, although he has now passed away.

The impact of hearing the Scriptures and Bible stories remains with me and have been a vital foundation in my life. I have continually encouraged parents to use the Bible for their bed-time stories and of course continued to do this in the lives of our own children, and now our grandchildren.

Qualicum Beach, British Columbia, Canada
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P.S. One of the 11 Garrett children is Dave Garrett, Shirley’s brother.  Dave and Dale Garrett were the visionaries and proponents of SCRIPTURE IN SONG, anointed melodies put to Scripture which were sung throughout the body of Christ worldwide, especially during the seventies and eighties. I am sure the seeds to this great vision were sown in Dave’s heart as his parents penetrated the Word of God into his heart as a child.

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