Sustained by ‘the Power Beyond Normal’
As told by Sadie Lewis Haddad
“HOW did you do it?” I am asked at times. Do what? Raise nine children, the last seven on my own. And of the eight who are living today, seven long have been dedicated, loyal servants of Jehovah God.
Looking back, I know that being able to raise my children in God’s truth was not done just in my own power. That would have been impossible. Surely it was with Jehovah’s help. As 2 Corinthians 4:7 shows, those who really want to serve God and do his will can have “the power beyond what is normal” that comes from God by means of his holy spirit.
But how did it come about that I had to raise most of my children on my own? How did I get to know Jehovah and his purposes? Let me give you a little of my background.
Early Schooling in Lebanon
I was born in Lebanon over 90 years ago, in 1892. My father was a Greek Orthodox priest, as was his father before him. The heart desire of my father was to have at least one of his sons become a priest, following in his footsteps. But none of them wished to pursue this vocation.
My father was very unhappy about this. However, if it is the will of Jehovah “who raises up the dead,” my father will come back from the dead in the resurrection when God establishes His Paradise “new earth.” (2 Corinthians 1:9; 2 Peter 3:13) Then I’ll be able to tell my father that while none of his sons became a minister of God, his daughter Sadie, and most of her children and grandchildren did become Jehovah’s ministers!
I really never got to know my mother, since she died when I was three years old. At her request, though, my father placed me in a boarding school where German Lutheran nuns taught me in both the Arabic and the German language. I was taught to love Jesus but was taught very little about God and his purposes.
Yet my desire was to be a nun and to go to heaven. But I never became a nun because when I finished school I had to return home to take care of my father before his death. When he died my brothers were charged with the responsibility of looking out for my welfare, as was the custom in Lebanon in those days. They felt that it was best for me to get married, and they chose a husband for me. I had no choice in the matter. So in 1909, when I was only 17 years old, I got married.
Coming to the United States
In 1910 my husband and I left Lebanon and came to the United States. We eventually settled on a rice farm in Texas. And as the years went by we had nine children.
But my marriage didn’t go well. In fact, in 1935 my husband left me, when our ninth child was three years old. While my oldest daughter and son were already married, their problems were still concerns of mine. And now I had to care for the other seven on my own.
The next year we sold everything we could, except some of the land, and rented a home in Beaumont, Texas. Several of my children then started to work and contributed toward the family’s expenses. That was really a great help to me.
Help From Jehovah
The greatest help, however, came from God. As far back as 1917, while we still lived on the farm, I had begun to get acquainted with Jehovah and his purposes and began turning to him for help.
Ever since I was a little girl I have had a reverence for God, and now I wanted to know more about him. What gave this more of a sense of urgency was the Great War, as they then called it, that broke out in 1914. My sister in Beirut, Lebanon, wrote to me about the terrible conditions in that part of the world during the war. Many of my relatives starved to death.
My sister said that she was forced to sell her house and belongings just to get some bread to eat, and, besides, she became very ill. She asked me please to send her money to buy food. So I promptly sent the money. But then I was notified by mail that my sister had died the same day that the money arrived. I still have that very sad letter.
These experiences helped me to see firsthand the fulfillment of Matthew 24:7, and this made it easier to accept the truth when it was presented to me.
Seeds of Truth Sown
The seeds of truth began to be sown in my heart in 1917. In that year a full-time minister of Jehovah’s Witnesses came to my door. He invited me to subscribe for the Watchtower magazine in the Arabic language. I read that first issue from cover to cover. Since then I have read every single issue along with the Bible, which has been the source of my faith and trust in Jehovah.
Eventually I learned to read English well enough to change the subscription to the English language. My main reason for this was that I wanted my children to read the magazines too.
My husband didn’t oppose the things I was learning but did resent my reading so much. So when I would read at night, after all the chores were finished and the children were in bed, I would lock the door in the room where I was reading and stuff the cracks where light might come through. In this way I was able to continue reading.
Could I Make That Sacrifice?
Years went by. I continued reading and learning more about God. Then in 1935, after my husband had left, I was invited to attend a lecture given by Jehovah’s Witnesses in a schoolhouse near our farm. The talk included information about Abraham’s sacrificing his son, Isaac.
One thing that had always bothered me as a Lutheran was why God had asked Abraham to sacrifice his only son. Being a mother of nine children now, this bothered me even more. I felt that I could never do that!
Yet, upon hearing the explanation of this at the lecture, I understood what true faith really meant, and how it enabled Abraham to do this. He was certain that the God who raises up the dead could raise up his child too. (Hebrews 11:17-19) I realized that this was the kind of faith I would need to face the problems that the future held. But how was I going to raise my children in a proper way and give them the kind of faith that Abraham had? My constant prayers to God were that I could do so.
Learning More Truths
Just a few short weeks before we moved to the city in 1936, the Witnesses called back on me and played a recording by the Watchtower Society’s president, J. F. Rutherford. It was about the value of accurate knowledge. It pointed out that accurate knowledge was vital, since Jesus said that knowledge of God and Christ would lead to everlasting life. (John 17:3) The Witnesses also invited me to come to their meetings. So after we moved to the city, one of my daughters and I found out where the meetings were held and we attended.
Our first meeting was so enjoyable that at its conclusion I asked the Witnesses if they had a Sunday school that my children could attend. I wanted them to learn the wonderful things I was learning. Of course, the Witnesses told me that they didn’t have Sunday schools but instead would come to my home every week and teach us the Bible. I asked: “What do you charge?” And they answered: “Nothing. It’s free.” That was amazing to me!
Before the Witnesses came for that first study, I prayed to Jehovah. I fervently asked him to help me with my children, and that they would study the Bible with us. To my delight, all of them joined the study, even my oldest daughter and her children.
Week by week we were thrilled to learn new truths about God’s Kingdom and its rule over a Paradise earth to come. We learned, too, the importance of God’s name, Jehovah. (Psalm 83:18) That was something I had never heard of in the Lutheran school in Lebanon.
Sustained by ‘the Power Beyond Normal’
I also learned that Jehovah is a God who sustains his servants when they rely on him. When that truth fully reached my heart, I can honestly say that no longer did I worry about how things would turn out. I put my full trust in Jehovah, doing my part of course, confident that he would supply “the power beyond what is normal.”
In time, this trust bore fruit. After a year of home Bible study I was baptized, in 1937. In time, all seven of my daughters were also baptized. How I thanked Jehovah for that blessing!
Then a severe test came. It was one that would require me to lean fully on Jehovah for strength. This had to do with my younger son. Although he studied the Bible for a while, he never took a definite stand for the truth. However, he did respect it and supported us in our pursuit of it. But then he got sick, and in 1968 he died.
My son’s death was the most tremendous grief of my life. I loved him very much, as I do all my children. I can truthfully say that if it was not for having Jehovah to help me, I could not have borne that grief. Great comfort was provided also by the realization that I would see him again in the earthly resurrection.
Sharing the Truth
Since learning the truth, I have had a freedom of mind and peace of heart that I never had before. I realized, too, that I no longer wanted to be a nun and go to heaven but wanted to live in that earthly Paradise under the rule of God’s Kingdom. This was such a grand hope that I had an earnest desire to share it with others. And throughout the years, I did, having had many wonderful experiences.
Even at this age—nearly 91 now—I still want to have a share in telling others about the Kingdom good news. True, I’m not able to get around as I used to, but my daughters are very helpful in this. They take me in a car and let me call at one door with the Kingdom message, then they have me get back in the car to rest for a while and wait for them while they continue the preaching work.
In fact, one of my daughters and I conduct a Bible study each week with four elderly women. This helps me to keep the wonderful truths about Jehovah and his purposes fresh in my mind.
I have been a baptized servant of God for over 45 years now. Have I grown weary that the New Order isn’t here yet? Well, physically I do get tired. But what a joy it has been during this time to see the growth of Jehovah’s visible organization from a few tens of thousands in 1937, when I was baptized, to over 2,400,000 in 1982!
Among those praisers of Jehovah are seven of my eight surviving children and nearly all my grandchildren and great-grandchildren. I also have a daughter, Rose Peloyan, who, with her husband, has spent over 25 years in full-time service at the Watchtower Society’s headquarters in Brooklyn. Why, I even have a granddaughter and her husband serving there too now!
Throughout all these years, there has been no doubt in my mind that I would have failed miserably in trying to raise my family to serve God if I had to do it in my own strength. But Jehovah has promised that he would not let his servants down. Instead, he would help them accomplish his will by giving them “the power beyond what is normal” by means of his holy spirit. I have experienced that help for many decades. Now I look forward to regaining my physical strength in Paradise and serving Jehovah throughout eternity.—Psalm 94:17-19.
[Blurb on page 14]
My husband deserted me in 1935 when our ninth child was three years old
[Blurb on page 15]
Since 1917 I have read every single copy of The Watchtower
[Blurb on page 16]
If it was not for having Jehovah to help me, I could not have borne that grief