Doris (34) was born in East Germany and now lives in London. She tells her story:
“When I was 13 I watched a documentary about orphan kids in Africa. It got to me and made me cry and I realised that without God I couldn’t make a difference.
“I knew I needed to put my life in God’s hands to make it worthwhile. I prayed, ‘God, have my life.’ Later, when I was 17, I was baptised in water and the Holy Spirit.
“When I was 18 I read Shadow of the Almighty, a book written by the wife of Jim Elliot, a missionary in Ecuador who had been killed trying to reach a primitive Indian tribe. As a young man, Jim had basically said, ‘If God wants me to stay single, I will.’ I wondered, ‘How can anyone pray like that?’ I really wanted to get married. I’d been brought up with five brothers and sisters and wanted to marry young. My parents’ marriage, too, was a good one – an example I could follow. I was so challenged by this book and I prayed for the ability to pray like Jim Elliot.
“Around this time I was apprenticed as a health care assistant and came to London for a gap year as an au pair. Later on, I was hoping to go to Africa to work in an orphanage.”
While in London, Doris was invited to Spreading Flame, a Jesus Fellowship community house in Acton. She said, “I fell in love with the vision of community and let go of my plans to go to Africa. God was calling me here.
“When I moved into Spreading Flame I was inspired about celibacy by the example of two young celibate sisters. People were really doing it! I prayed about it and the more I got to know the calling of the Jesus Army, the more I fell in love with the vision of celibacy, although I still wanted to marry and have kids.
“I felt God say, ‘Choose which gift you want’ (marriage or celibacy). I thought it would be better if He made the choice! In one of our Sunday morning church meetings I sensed God offering me the gift of celibacy. I had the impression of a grey parcel; it didn’t look very attractive but inside I knew it would be colourful. Again God gave me a choice.
Finally, at the age of 24, Doris made her decision to make a celibacy vow. ‘I’ve never regretted it although God tested me from the word go.’ Yes, Doris has fallen in love since and has been very tested on celibacy but, “the calling has outweighed the testing. In times like that I’ve hung onto my friends. People believed in me despite my struggles – and that made me believe I could pull through.
“I love celibacy because of the freedom it gives and I can do the things I love to do such as spending time with young sisters in the church – something I really love. I also love doing domestic work at Battle Centre, the Christian community house where I live. It is an amazing way to build the kingdom of God. The kitchen is the hub of the house. I’m available to people – celibacy gives me that freedom.”
What about the future? “I’m expecting, anticipating new things – and still excited about living in community. I look forward to making disciples and seeing them come into the kingdom of God. So far I’ve been mainly a friend to people but I want this to develop more and more into spiritual motherhood.”
Doris finished by saying: “Celibacy frees me to live out more fully what God has invested in me. I want to be content with whatever situation God puts me in. It may sometimes be day to day ordinary things like scrubbing floors and loos and kitchen pans but, even in these, I can find the extraordinary, supernatural life of God.”