Velma White is a Cree Canadian who grew up on the Saddle Lake reserve near Edmonton. As a young girl, she experienced sexual abuse from her babysitters, unbeknownst to her parents. And by the time she was eight years old, she was already contemplating suicide. The only conception she had of God was from her Catholic school where she was encouraged to confess her sins to the crucifix on the wall or to a priest.
“I had no desire to live my life anymore,” Velma recalled. “The abuse that I was experiencing just did not diminish. And I remember walking around in my back yard, asking God to help me wake up from this bad dream.”
That same summer her mom announced to her that she was going away to a camp for a week. It was called Camp Living Waters, and it was where she first heard about Jesus being a King, about the kingdom of heaven and that He wanted all of us to be a part of His kingdom.
“It was just a whole new experience for me,” she remembers, “and seeing happy people in that loving environment—to me that was my safe zone, my haven. That’s where I first heard the gospel. And that’s also where I received a Gideon New Testament.”
Throughout her teen years Velma experimented with drugs and alcohol as a means to deal with the torment of her past. But the Bible verses she’d learned and read never left her and the Holy Spirit was continuing to work in her heart. When she finally gave her life to Christ at 18, she remembers the complete surrender. “I had no known talent, just a broken heart and empty life. That’s all I had. And I thought, I want to serve you with my life, and I don’t know what you want to do with me, but here I am. Take me!”
She went back to Camp Living Waters as a volunteer. She wanted to give back and help other kids in the way she’d been helped. One of the people she met was a young boy named Barry Chalifoux.
Velma serves in ministry today among Indigenous people in Canada and always encourages them to dig into the Bible. “I tell them, ‘This is the most important text message you’ll ever get!’ It comes from the heart of God. In my opinion, if people can get the Bible, the Holy Spirit is big enough to open the understanding of people like He did for me. And if we can get the Word of God into people’s hands, I think that’s our lifeline. Without His Word, I would still be confused.”