Sunday school teacher Margaret Ridgway’s wartime ministry had a significant impact on the next generation of missionaries and pastors.

On a warm spring day in 1942, Margaret Ridgway believed she heard God telling her to leave her home in Vancouver, Canada, and move to a Japanese internment camp.

Ridgway was on her knees in the kitchen, praying before an open Bible, when the prophet Haggai’s words leaped off the page: “Go up to the mountain … build the house; and I will take pleasure in it, and I will be glorified. … I am with you. … Fear ye not” (1:8; 2:4–5, KJV).

“God had spoken,” she declared.

“I had no doubt now that He was calling me to leave my ‘ceiled house’—the security of my home, my church, and my familiar surroundings—and follow my Japanese friends who were deprived of their homes and their livelihoods and were being sent to makeshift quarters in the narrow valleys of the Kootenay and Slocan Rivers,” she wrote.

Ridgway’s heart and passion for the Japanese Canadians in Vancouver prior to the war had prepared her well to face this tumultuous period in Canadian history. Her life story would come to reflect a deep commitment toward sharing the love of Christ with the Japanese people.

“If it weren’t for Margaret, we wouldn’t be here,” said retired Toronto pastor Stan Yokota. “She was the only person who went to be among the Japanese to start an evangelical church.”

Venturing into the unknown

Margaret Ridgway was born on May 31, 1915, in Regina, Saskatchewan. After her father’s untimely death when she was three years old, her family eventually relocated to Vancouver. She felt led to reach out to Japanese people well before the Second World War began, according to Ed Yoshida, former pastor of Wesley Chapel Japanese Church …

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