‘Be careful what you pray,’ says headteacher who once prayed for good school heads.
A headteacher who had been looking forward to retirement for most of her career had a shock in store.
Once retired, Rosemary Saunders heard the Lord calling her to Jerusalem to answer an urgent need for a new head at the Anglican International School there, run by the Church’s Ministry among Jewish people (CMJ).
She was adamant she was not going, and after saying ‘no’ ten times, Jesus came into her bedroom and ‘enveloped’ her with his love. Her defences were down and, as in the parable of the two sons, she was like the one who initially refused to go and work in the vineyard, but later changed his mind. (Matthew 21:28-32)
“I went feeling totally inadequate and aware of my many shortcomings,” she told a congregation in Yorkshire. “But because of my faith, the Lord brought me through.”
At first only intending to fill the gap for a year, Rosemary stayed on for six years, overseeing a 350-pupil school representing 50 different nationalities in a city of much stress and conflict, with the work made especially difficult during the Covid years.
Now 72, Rosemary, who is married to Roy and lives in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, warned her audience to “be careful what you pray and sing. Ask yourself if you really mean it, as you may find that you are the answer to your own prayers.”
In her case, it was when she joined a prayer group whose members were appalled at what was happening in the schools (in the UK) that she began praying for God to raise up good headteachers!
Similarly, she would often find herself singing songs like ‘I will go wherever you lead me’ – “then he called me and I didn’t want to go”!
Fortunately, however, three significant personal prophecies had paved the way for her.
Visiting a Catholic church while on holiday in France, she heard the audible voice of God for the first time, saying: “One day you will love the whole world.”
And indeed, she later found herself heading up a school whose motto is ‘Where the world comes to school’.
Then, in a pit of despair after losing her first husband, she read the words of Isaiah that “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations” (Isaiah 56:7, Luke 19:45f) – quoted by Jesus in berating the temple money-changers – and heard the Lord say to her: “I will use you to bless all nations.”
When she got to Jerusalem, she would join Christian staff in the chapel to pray for the pupils every morning.
She also once had a vision – similar to that of Ezekiel in chapter 47 of his prophecy – of wading through increasingly deep waters, which proved something of a picture of the difficulties she would encounter in her Jerusalem post.
But she had many wonderful opportunities for witnessing to her faith. When asked by a Jewish member of staff what she thought of the patriarchs, she shocked her colleague by saying that they gave her hope because they were “so dysfunctional”.
Her friend countered: “What perfect man walked this earth?” Which prompted a full testimony of Rosemary’s relationship with Jesus!
Another staff member was in terrible pain, suffering from suspected cancer of the pancreas. Rosemary was reminded of the Scripture encouraging us to lay hands on the sick, which the Christian teachers duly did.
However, she subsequently felt led to pray for her again – this time without touching her.
“I simply asked Jesus to visit her as a daughter of Abraham, as he did with the woman who touched the hem of his garment.”
So they made sure they kept their hands off her, but the lady nevertheless felt someone touch her head – and she was healed!
Rosemary concluded by sharing how committing Scriptures to memory had proved crucial to her spiritual survival in Jerusalem. It was truly a case of “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” (Psalm 119:105)
As a postscript, Rosemary no longer believes in retirement and reckons that Psalm 71:18 – “Even when I am old and grey, do not forsake me, my God, till I declare your power to the next generation…” – is proof that God agrees with her!