Please Join the Support Team for our Two ANS ‘Senior Citizens’ and Be Blessed
By Dan Wooding, Founder of ASSIST and the ASSIST News Service
LAKE FOREST, CA (ANS – April 21, 2016) – We have two Senior Citizens here at our ASSIST and ASSIST News Service (ANS) office in Southern California. One was born of British missionary parents in Nigeria, West Africa, and the other came into this world in the basement of her home in Birmingham, England, during a German bombing raid during the dark and early days of World War II.
Both of them receive a small British Senior Citizens pension, and no USA Social Security, and they are forced to reach into their hard-earned savings to the tune of $1,000 per month to help them continue their ministry to the Suffering Church around the world.
They live a very frugal life, but couldn’t be happier, as they continue to serve the Lord in this way through ASSIST which, by the way, means “Aid to Special Saints in Strategic Times.”
You guessed it. I’m talking about myself and Norma, my dear wife, who has described our life together as being “like a roller coaster ride.” This is because of all that we have seen and experienced together during our extraordinary marriage of nearly 53 years.
That includes having two lovely sons, Andrew and Peter, who are both now serving the Lord back in the UK, and our six lovely grandkids there.
On the day we linked our lives together – July 13, 1963 – at Aston Parish Church in Birmingham, neither of us had any idea how our marriage would pan out, especially as both of us had rather boring office jobs. But it all started to turn out as rather unusual for us when, within a short time, our first son, Andrew, arrived and we then became wardens of Hill Farm, Europe’s first drug rehabilitation farm based in rolling hills of Worcestershire.
Sadly, that turned out to be a near disaster for us, which is described the first of my 45 books, “Junkies are People Too,” and resulted in Norma coming close to a complete nervous breakdown, and myself being totally humiliated by the failure of my work with the addicts, and so we had to pick up the pieces and start again with our life together.
I had always wanted to be a journalist and writer, and after penning the book, that experience of chronicling my failure, turned into a blessing, as shortly afterwards, I was able to secure a job with Billy Graham’s British newspaper, “The Christian” which, at the time, was the oldest evangelical paper in the world and we moved to London, with our two sons – Peter had since joined us. I had a wonderful year with the paper and was able to interview fascinating people like Coretta Scott King just before she spoke at her late husband’s memorial service at St. Paul’s Cathedral.
But then came a huge shockwave when the Billy Graham people decided to shut down The Christian, because they claimed it was losing money, and all of us were out on the streets with only two weeks’ salary to keep us going.
Shortly afterward, I remember meeting Billy Graham at an event where he was to speak at a late-night gathering of stars who were appearing in West End shows. Graham went around the room shaking hands and asking our names, and I told him, “My name is Dan Wooding, Mr. Graham. You may remember that you fired me a few weeks ago!” There was an embarrassed silence, and then he muttered something like, “It was a most unfortunate occurrence. It wasn’t my idea, but my board had recommended it.”
So, here I was, not having much of an academic background – I’d left school at the age of 15 with few qualifications – and so I didn’t think I would be able to get another newspaper job, but once again, I saw the Lord at work. David Winter, a BBC producer friend, who had heard of my situation, suggested that I should try and join a secular newspaper, as he said there were “so few believers” in the British media.
And, to my great surprise, I managed to get a reporting job with the Middlesex County Times, a weekly based in Ealing, West London, after the editor, Burt Munday, discovered that I had worked for The Christian, which, he said, was printed at the same shop as his paper, and consequently, he was aware of my writing. I eventually became the paper’s Chief Reporter, and was with them for five years, and I was also a “stringer” for all of the British national newspapers, including the Times of London.
As I was becoming well known to the news editors of the various papers, including the many tabloids, I was given a job with the Sunday People, the second largest circulation paper in the UK, and which was described by some as the “Sunday Peephole,” because of the type of scandalous journalism it was known for.
Quite naturally, Norma had some trepidation when I moved into the murky world of the notorious British tabloids where, at first, became a senior reporter with Sunday People and later joined its sister paper, the Sunday Mirror, also as a senior reporter, but I paid a big price for that so-called success, as I all but lost my faith as a result of spending so much time digging into the dirt of Britain’s underbelly.
On many evenings, I would weave my way home completely drunk and, although I was building quite a name for myself as a journalist, I was very unsuccessful as a husband and father, and we came close to splitting up.
But her prayers for me were eventually answered when, one night, in a smoky bar called the “Stab-in-the Back,” an off Fleet Street pub for Mirror Group journalists, where I was once again intoxicated. That night, a miracle occurred when an old friend, Ray Barnett, who was born in Colerain, Northern Ireland, and now lives in British Columbia, came in to the pub on a special mission from God – to literally save my life. He knew that I was heading for serious trouble with my drinking, and also because had also been the subject of several death threats, including one from an Irish terror group. (Norma also had received a death threat from a London gangster).
Ray, who later founded the African Children’s Choir, patiently watched as I continued to knock back pint after pint of my favorite beer, and then he pounced, suddenly challenging me to give my life back to Christ, quit my life in the tabloids, and go with him to Uganda to write a book with him called “Uganda Holocaust,” about the shocking eight years of misrule by Idi Amin, when some 300,000 Christians were killed during that period by him and his Islamic thugs.
So there, in that rather seedy bar, I prayed to recommit my life to Christ, handed in my notice at the paper I was then working for, and soon we were in Uganda, for a life-changing experience. As we crisscrossed the country, I became so impressed with the courageous believers we were meeting in that devastated country that, at the end of the trip, I knelt by my bedside at the Namirembe Guest House in Kampala, and told the Lord that I wanted to spend the rest of my life serving the Persecuted Christians of the world for the rest of my life.
And that is what I’ve done ever since, with the full support of Norma.
After “Uganda Holocaust” (Zondervan) came out, I was hired for two years to write a series of books for Brother Andrew’s ministry, Open Doors, which had me travelling the world to chronicle the stories of these brave Christians. One was called “God Smuggler to China,” which I co-authored with Brother David and Sara Bruce, and was about “Project Pearl,” the daring delivery, in June 1981, of one million Bibles into China by a tugboat and barge manned by twenty dedicated missionaries.
Although I was away from home for long periods, Norma never complained, and told me that she was “just glad that I was now back serving the Lord.”
Then, back in 1982, I received a visit at our then home in Walton-on-Thames, Surrey, from Dr. Dale Kietzman, one of the then leaders of Open Doors, asking if I would like to make the “Big Move” across the “Big Pond” to become media director of the US branch of the ministry.
This was a big decision, so we gathered the family together, and Norma and I asked the boys how they felt about moving to America, and they both agreed, and so on June 28, 1982, we boarded a Pan Am flight from Heathrow Airport to Los Angeles, and so began the next chapter of our lives.
But not too long afterwards, both Andrew (first) and later Peter, gave their lives to the Lord, and announced that they were returning to the UK to serve there as missionaries with Youth With A Mission. So, with mixed feelings, we bade farewell to them, and Norma, despite the heartbreak of losing her sons, bravely stayed with me. It was a real blow to her, but she loyally continued to support me in any way she could. (She is now the volunteer administrator of ASSIST).
After about five years with Open Doors, we felt the tug of the Lord to start ASSIST (Aid to Special Saints in Strategic Times), and Dr. Kietzman, who had since left Open Doors, put together our non-profit papers, and we formed a Board and began this new ministry.
Right from the start, we made a decision that none of us would receive a regular salary from ASSIST, but instead trust the Lord to touch the hearts of friends like yourself to send along donations to help support us as “Media Missionaries.”
We have lived like this now for more than twenty-five years, but I am sad to report that our personal support level has dropped to an all-time low and, as I mentioned earlier, we are having to dip into our personal savings to the tune of $1,000 per month just to keep going. As you can imagine, this cannot go on for much longer.
We are both in our mid-seventies, and this is a big concern for Norma and myself, and so I praying, dear friends, if you would each prayerfully consider joining our “Senior Citizen” support team and help us with a monthly gift (tax-deductible in the US), or a one-off donation for our personal support.
There are two ways you can do this:
1) You can go to https://www.assistnews.net, and then scroll down to where it says DONATE TO ASSIST NEWS, and there you can either make a one-off gift, or enroll to make a monthly gift, either of which would be so appreciated.
2) If you prefer to send either a one-off or regular monthly check, just make it out to ASSIST and mail it to PO Box 609, Lake Forest, CA 92609, USA. (If you are sending a check, could you let me know at email@example.com, so I can pass along the good news onto Norma.)
Some years ago, someone, who couldn’t understand how the Lord touches people to support individuals and ministries like ours, said rather cruelly, “Dan, why don’t you just get a proper job?” Well, I can’t think of a more “proper” and important job than helping to publicize through ANS, the plight of the millions of Christians around the world who are paying the ultimate price for their faith.
I am talking about the Christians in Iraq and Syria who are being slaughtered, and some are even being beheaded, by Islamic State (ISIS), and those in Pakistan who are daily being attacked and murdered by Islamic militants. Of course, you will all know of the shocking case of Asia Bibi, the courageous mother-of-five who is on death row in Pakistan for standing up for Jesus, and militants are even calling for her immediate execution.
Besides writing up these many stories, I also co-host with my ANS colleague, Mark Ellis, a weekly TV show called “Windows on the World,” which is aired on the Holy Spirit Broadcasting Network (http://hsbn.tv), and I also produce my “Front Page Radio” show on the KWVE Radio Network (www.kwve.com). Besides that, I do regular interviews about the Persecuted Church on several radio and TV stations in the US and overseas. During each program, I ask people to please continue to pray for these great heroes of the faith, who so need us to stand with them.
So thank you for reading this story, and please pray about how you can personally help support these two elderly “Senior Citizens” who so need both your prayers and financial support, and who can’t thank you enough for being part of our ANS family.
I would also ask you to send Norma and I your prayer requests at firstname.lastname@example.org. We would be honored to pray for you.
Photo Captions: 1) Our two Senior Citizens: Norma and Dan Wooding still hard at work in their mid-seventies on an ANS reporting assignment in Hollywood, California. (Photo: Bryan Seltzer). 2) Dan as a baby being held by his missionary mother, Anne Wooding, shortly after his birth in Nigeria. 3) Andrew, Dan, Norma and Peter Wooding pictured in Sheffield, UK, during a visit to Britain. 4) Ray Barnett and Dan Wooding, arriving at Entebbe Airport in Uganda. 4) Dan Wooding with Brother Andrew of “God’s Smuggler” fame, who whom Dan Wooding with for some seven years as a writer. 6) Dan and Norma with their son, Peter, who made a surprise visit to their home last year.
About the writer: Dan Wooding, 75, is an award-winning winning author, broadcaster and journalist who was born in Nigeria of British missionary parents, and is now living in Southern California with his wife Norma, to whom he has been married for nearly 53 years. They have two sons, Andrew and Peter, and six grandchildren who all live in the UK. Dan is the founder and international director of ASSIST (Aid to Special Saints in Strategic Times) and the ASSIST News Service (ANS), and is the author of some 45 books. He also has two TV shows and a radio show, all based in Southern California. He has reported for ANS from all over the world, and his most recent trip was to Northern Iraq.
** You may republish this and any of our stories with full attribution to the ASSIST News Service (www.assistnews.net)