When a husband and wife like Dick and Susan Driedger are totally sold out to God, anything can happen, even at age 93.
Dick, being of Mennonite heritage, was born and raised on a prairie farm with 14 other siblings. Their family was so poor that shoes were only worn on Sundays. Dick vowed that once he could afford shoes, he would never go barefoot again, even on a beach! His family was shunned by the local Bergthaler Mennonites/Old Colonists who believed that wearing ties or going to high school would send you to hell.
Susan’s Mennonite parents came from the Ukraine. In Grade 9, Susan told her class “I wish that I might know how I could be right with God.” Shortly after, she was invited to a service of the Janz Brothers Evangelistic Association where she responded to the invitation to receive Jesus as her personal Saviour. Susan and Dick fell in love through a church picnic and have been married now for 68 years.
After going to the University of Saskatchewan and Prairie Bible College, Dick became a school teacher but wanted to switch to medicine. He seemed to hear however from the Lord: “Dick, I want you to be a healer of souls instead of a healer of bodies.” While serving as a school Principal in Dalmeny, Saskatchewan, he received a call from Leo Janz, the head of the Janz Brothers Gospel Association, asking if he would be willing to come to Europe to organize the Janz Team school for missionary children. The Driedgers had made a pledge before their marriage: “If God should ever call us into full-time ministry, we would not say no.” They left on this faith missions venture in 1964, and Dick continued to serve as Chair for the Janz Team Board of Directors for many years.
In 1967, the Driedgers returned home to Saskatchewan to get medical attention for Susan: “I became very ill with multiple complications, and ended up with deep depression, as well as a major physical breakdown. This created a spiritual struggle as I searched my heart for answers in this turn of events in my life. I was a ‘doer’ and often commented that I would ‘do it’ even if it killed me! The Holy Spirit revealed to me my selfish striving and self-dependence. His gentle word was ever so clear, ‘would I be willing to yield to the will of God in my life even if I never got better to accomplish (to do!) things anymore? That was the moment of crucial unconditional surrender to Jesus as King and sovereign ruler of my life. God wonderfully sent me to a doctor for proper diagnosis and medication. I snapped out of the depression and returned to a normal lifestyle. I believe that God has to bring us to bankruptcy in our self-striving, so that we will yield to His will and to depend on the empowerment of the Holy Spirit in all that life hands us.”
After emerging from this deep depression, Susan began to be powerfully used in women’s ministry, in a way that prepared the way for the Foundations for Living ministry. In the 1970s, she co-authored and published the book Alliance Women’s Ministries Handbook, as well as conducting numerous workshops on Building an Effective Women’s Ministry in the Local Church.
In 1968, Dick, at age 38, had two severe heart attacks while teaching Physics in a Collegiate in Saskatchewan. The doctor told him, “Dick, you have had a severe heart attack, and have only a 50/50 chance to live. You will never do a normal day’s work again.” His milkman roommate at an evangelism seminar asked him, “Dick, if God would heal you, would you go back to a full-time ministry position?” He said yes but saw no hope as he didn’t believe in divine healing at the time. His roommate laid hands on him and prayed for healing. Next week, his physician told him that his heartbeat was perfectly normal. After further tests, the clinic initially thought that Dick never had a heart attack since they could not even detect any scar tissue. He was healed! Ironically, the milkman had never prayed for healing for anyone before or since.
In the fall of 1971, Dick and Susan became part of a revival led by the Sutera Twins (Ralph & Lou) in Ebenezer Baptist Church, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Later meetings were then held at larger churches before moving to the largest venue, the Centennial Auditorium. These meetings went from 7 pm to 4 am for 14 weeks, well into January of 1972. Dick said: “We saw things that we had never seen before. There were two brothers who had not talked to each other for about seven years. They reconciled and gave their testimonies to the church congregation. We witnessed marriages that were separated, reconciled. We also witnessed miraculous healings and demonic deliverances.”
After the Sutera Twins revival, Dick was called into full-time ministry at the University (Circle) Drive Alliance Church in Saskatoon, where he spearheaded a television ministry called ‘Turning Point’ with Senior Pastor Walter Boldt. Dick was also given the responsibility to begin a discipleship ministry to disciple the approximately one hundred people who had given their lives to Christ after the revival.
After ten years of ministry with Circle Drive Alliance Church, they were called to Chilliwack Alliance Church, where Dick was hired to do administration and program development. At the 1984 Billy Graham Crusade, the Driedgers organized busloads of people to attend. The 43 converts gave them a great beginning for their discipleship ministry which they named ‘Foundations for Living” (FFL). In its development, Dick authored a series of four Bible Study manuals. As people came to grips with repentance and forgiveness, Dick was instrumental in resolving cases outside the law courts between businessmen who had sued one another during the 1981-1983 recession.
After seven years at Chilliwack Alliance, they were called to take on the position of administration and program development in Peace Portal Alliance Church. During that time, Dick served on the South Surrey-White Rock Leadership Prayer Breakfast team. Susan led Foundations for Living (FFL) in Peace Portal Alliance with women from 2001-2014, with an average attendance of 70. At its peak, they had 300 women for these Christmas and Easter outreaches.
God kept bringing miracle after miracle for the Driedgers. They had to sacrifice their teacher’s pension in order to work as missionaries in Germany. Then out of the blue, when they had no income in 1990-1992, they were told by the Teachers Federation that if they taught school in a Saskatchewan Hutterite colony for 14 weeks, their teacher’s pension would be reinstated.
In 2010, when Dick was 80 years of age, and Susan was 74, Clare Hinchliff from Peace Portal Alliance Church insisted that they form a charitable organization with his financial backing. He envisioned thousands coming to Christ needing the materials that FFL provide to train lay people to actually ‘do’ the studies with people in order to make disciples. Within ten years, and before Dick (age 90) and Susan stepped down, the ministry had exploded overseas. By 2020, the FFL books were translated into more than 20 foreign languages.
In 2014, the Driedgers were privileged to train 150 pastors and leaders for FFL discipleship ministry in a 30,000-person (Kuwait) church complex. In 2015, the Driedgers, with a team of disciple makers, took 72,000 Spanish FFL books to train pastors and leaders in Cuba.
Foundations for Living (FFL) now has directors in many countries, including Cuba, India, Thailand, Tanzania, Rwanda, Kenya, and Nepal. The most productive place for FFL is in India where it is published in Punjabi and Hindi.
After many requests from the FFL Board of Directors, Susan, in 2016, authored a book of the teaching lessons she had done throughout the years in her general sessions before the class began their small group discussion studies. This devotional book, Out of God’s Treasure Chest, can be used for private devotions or for a small group bible study. A study guide is presently being written for publication.
The Driedgers recently wrote a remarkable autobiography Our Story: Interruptions, Divine Instructions. Dick and Susan have discovered that God can use disappointments, interruptions, roadblocks, or waiting room experiences to make us more Christ-like. As Susan commented, “It’s all a God thing. Anyone who is on the forefront of seeing where God is at work is going to experience the enemy’s darts. The Lord gives one a lot of chances to practice unconditional love and forgiveness.” They discovered that unforgiveness is a top problem for many hurting Christians. Forgiveness changes everything.
Owen MacRae of Peace Portal noted: “They have passed on the leadership of FFL to K.R Paton, who is continuing it with great gusto.”
What might it take for each of us to finish well like the Driedgers are doing? How might we too fully sell out to God? Foundations for Living, https://foundations4living.ca.