Looking back, moving forward
Pastor turned writer reflects on God’s leading
WINNIPEG, MB—Ed Hughes spends more time looking back than forward now that he is 79, but he does so with great delight.
“I marvel at how the Lord has led!” says the former social worker and pastor. These days his attention turns to writing. “I wanted to be rich and famous as a writer!” he jokes, but it seems God had other plans.
In the early days of cable television, two Christian engineers, including Greg Stetski of Winnpeg’s Union Gospel Mission, commissioned Ed to write 60 stories spanning from Genesis to Revelation.
The stories were intended for an electronic nursery book parents could read to their children. However, the storied ended up being picked up by Bible for Children and have been translated into 104 languages.
“Times of India (the largest English-speaking newspaper in the world) requested permission to use our stories on a serial basis in their ‘Speaking Tree’ section (their version of Faith Page),” says Ed. Over five million readers are downloading the material annually.
The stories are not Ed’s only projects. His books include Night Duty Social Worker, Love them for Me, Laura, Three Loves, the story of George and Ella Sinderson’s 40 years in Chad as missionaries, two accounts of Union Gospel Mission in Winnipeg, a biography of missionary Bill Jackson and the story of YMCA Inverness.
The latter is particularly significant. “The night I was saved,” Ed recalls, “the secretary of YMCA was waiting outside the counselling room and gave me a New Testament.”
That night is one that takes Ed back to Scotland, where at the age of 19, he and some friends went to the 1955 Billy Graham gospel meeting out of boredom. There Ed was convicted of his need for God. Two years later, he came to Canada.
Ed obtained a government job in 1964; that job ended and he was sent to Brandon, Manitoba for retraining. When Ed found himself helping a fellow student who had a degree, he decided to pursue a bachelor of arts by taking night classes. He took off just one year from his social work for full-time studies.
Ed eloquently pled that he could not afford the extra time needed to earn his bachelor of social work, and that he already had something to offer Social Services, so he was accepted without it and earned his masters degree in the next two years. He served with Children’s Aid for three years, and then at Winnipeg’s St. James Assiniboia School Division as a social worker for more than nine years.
Next, Ed was called to pastor Grant Park Baptist Church for 10 years. He still shares his love for God’s Word with a smaller but dedicated group of seniors that meets at Canadian Mennonite University each week for Bible study and fellowship. This non-denominational group has been meeting for at least 15 years.
Despite his activity, an untreatable blood condition reduces Ed’s energy level.
“Its impressively long Latin name makes me the envy of many of my peers who can only boast of non-exotic conditions. I was relieved to get the medical name for the condition,” he says, “it sounds so much better than the word ‘lazy.’”
Laziness is not really part of Ed’s life-vocabulary. Health issues interrupted his formal studies in conversational Hebrew at the Rady Jewish Centre, but each day he reads, writes or tries to add vocabulary.
“I won’t master the language but I enjoy the intricacies and I think it shakes up the rust in my cranium,” he says. He also enjoys writing hymns, using the “freshness of the day’s language to talk about the atoning work of Christ.
Through the daily struggles, Ed is thankful for the reminder that “It’s not the end of the story yet.”
“Thank you, Lord,” Ed says. “I’m looking forward; today is the important one.”
Pat Gerbrandt, a freelance writer, delights in learning how God is working in and through His people. She enjoys sharing these stories.
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