HeavenQuake… (on LOIS PETERSON)

There was a high magnitude quake in the evangelistic spiritual realm over Chicago today. At its epicenter was the passing away of one of the finest evangelists I have ever known.

I first heard the name of Lois Peterson disdainfully–almost as if the speaker was spitting. She was not popular among the old guard at my church.

  • “I can’t believe that she lets people smoke at her Bible study.”
  • “A woman shouldn’t teach men.”
  • “She’s not under anybody’s authority.”
  • “She doesn’t believe in the old sin nature.”
  • “Her ear rings are too big.”
  • “She said ‘damn’.”

Others despised her for these reasons. The rest of us loved her for them.

Lois conducted a Bible study in an unadorned Chicago basement for decades. By Bible study, I mean this: stacks of worn, Bibles–gosh-awfully smelly–stacked on rickety tables with even ricketier chairs crammed into a room much too small for all of this. Ashtrays on the tables. No windows. Lucky to find a place to park. No signs. Walk around the back. Enter through the back basement door. No good reason to come.

And yet people came by the thousands, I suppose. Most of them desperately lost. I guess the p.c. term is “unchurched.” Shacking up. Drug addicts. Alcoholics. Mentally ill. Atheists. Catholics. Lutherans. Baptists. Buddhists. You name it–it came to Lois’ Bible Class.

Lois sat on a stool, and read through a paragraph of Scripture. Dangling earrings swayed. Smoke swirled around her head. A room that could hold 20 crammed with 80 or more shifted nervously as she read. Lois then commented on that paragraph for a few moments. A few questions. A few debates. Some laughter. Light up another cigarette (not Lois–she didn’t smoke)… And move on to the next paragraph.

No powerpoint. No handouts. No bulletin. No announcements. There was an offering–it was used to buy the [bad] coffee. Which we drank by the gallons in that glorious chapel dug six feet into earth. We listened to a lady named Lois, but we heard the voice of God.

I can’t tell you why. Her insights were edgy, but always orthodox. She was not a master of erudition. She spilled her coffee as she taught. What was Lois’ secret?

Her sense of grace was without parallel. Lois taught the gospel of grace. Which is why she and I were kindred spirits. That unadorned gospel announces that the worst of us, and the worst parts of us, are never sunk too low for the love of God, and for the effectiveness of the Cross of Christ to take hold. And that in a simple act of faith–express it however you will: through prayer, through nodding your head, through smiling–though a simple act of faith a person is born again into the family of God with everlasting life as a permanent possession. It is the old time gospel.

  • It is not what you give to God. It is what he does for you.
  • It is not changing your life. You can’t, and he won’t until you have first believed on the the Lord Jesus.
  • It is not fix up your life, and then come to Jesus. It is just as you are.
  • It is not “quit shacking up” and then you can be saved. It is you’re dead and can’t stop sinning until after you’re saved;.
  • It is not “follow Jesus.” It is trust Jesus, and then he will “will and do” in you all the following he requires.

Lois spoke this gospel, and then ended the Bible class. No prayer. No formality. Just a ragtag crew of strangers and friends crammed into a basement listening to a lady comment on the Bible.

Yet it was the power of God. I would estimate that thousands of seekers found what they sought in that basement. From the ranks of druggies and addicts sprang forth pastors and missionaries and church leaders. A race of grace-oriented newbies populated churches and filled Sunday school classes throughout the land. The number of pastors who first met Jesus in Lois’ class has to be in the dozens.

After Lois finished teaching, it was time to “move in.” That meant that us veterans would strike up a conversation with strangers at our table, and–sipping coffee, and breathing their tar and nicotine–gently open a door to Jesus. Okay, sometimes not so gently. We did what we had to do: ardent for Jesus, and I must confess, for the smile and approval of Lois.

There was not a church in town that didn’t have some of Lois’ converts helping out in ministry. How the devil hated her. Week after week, somebody “got saved”–a phrase I still use and always will, even though our postmodern friends don’t like it. I want people to get saved, and if your ministry doesn’t get people saved, it isn’t Christian.

Lois got people saved. In her Bible study. Vacation Bible School. Awana. Camp Awana. In her neighborhoods. Wherever she could teach, she taught.

And the remarkable thing to me was her unremarkability. She was not a dynamo. She was not particularly eloquent. She was not utterly brilliant. She was not erudite or educated.

She was, however, anointed by God. And that made all the difference.

Lois taught me to live on the edge. To pray. To expect that God would use his word to save people. To expect that God would use ME to save people. To breathe other people’s smoke and not get hung up on it. To laugh. To dig into the Word. To be an evangelist. To not despise small things like basements and styrofoam cups of coffee. To clarify the gospel of grace, and hold fast.

I loved her. She was a spiritual mom to me and so many others. I’m sure that I was her favorite. Her influence on me continues every time I step behind a pulpit to preach.

When she slipped into eternity, I have no doubt that her precious Savior took her hand and walked her home. In that smoke-free zone of heaven, Lois enjoyed Jesus and Don in that order.

The quake in the spiritual realm is still rippling. Who will take her place? It can’t be done. Lois’ death is the end of an era.

No dismay, though. God always has a new era up his sleeve.

I am told there was a party for Lois last week. I wish I could have gone. She told her friends, “See you over there.” Yeah, Lois. Thanks for embracing me. I’ll see you over there too.

Anybody with pictures of Lois, or her Bible class, please send them so I can post them, okay?


51 thoughts on “HeavenQuake… (on LOIS PETERSON)

  1. Wow! “see you over there” it is one thing to say it and you believe, you think but to turn the tables on the preconceived thoughts of death and how really we should be rejoicing at our crossing over and we who believe should not mourn as others do is quite frankly very beautiful that she had a sending off and treated her passing as a long trip she was about to embark on that she couldn’t wait for all of us to get over there too. What a great demonstation of strong faith it made my evening to read this.

  2. I got SAVED in that smoke filled, Holy Spirit filled basement. Lois was my spiritual grandmother. I said “good-bye” to her at that party last week. And she was teaching until the end. I told her that we all hate when someone dies suddenly and there is no chance to say good-bye. But, I hated that she was suffering so much and that was why we had a chance to say good-bye. No way is a good way to go.

    And Lois said, “Death is the enemy. It is always the enemy. It must be defeated. And it has been. THERE there will be no death, no tears, no sadness, no good-byes.”

    I plan to take my children to her funeral on Monday. I want them to witness through the people and their words there, what God can do through one ordinary housewife, mom and grandmother.

    Thanks, Bill, for your words about her and that time. Wish you could get back for the class reunion.

  3. Thankyou so much, Dr. G, for your beautiful words about this lovely believer who was finally done with her task on earth. I would have LOVED her, I’m sure! Can’t wait to talk hours on end in heaven. I am at the age now, old, when a lot more people known by me are dying; my siblings and I are now “orphans” because there are no parents left. I can’t say how much I learned from watching them go home to heaven! The “process” of death is not pleasant and can be horrendous, but the reality of heaven was so obvious in the hearts of these parents who knew the Lord as Savior and King – a tremedous faith booster for me. One better believe there is no faking allowed at death! It’s a given thing for every single one of us! What better time to realize the importance of a saving relationship with the Creator! That is truly where the rubber meets the road! It also impressed us remaining that the mantle has now been past to us to carry on! May we show the same faith and grace when it’s our time to go home!

  4. My parents got saved in Lois’ bible study, so she is my spiritual grandmother. I was at her party at my cousin’s house to say ‘goodbye for now’, and the last thing she said to me was “Keep singing”. I’ve never known anyone to have such an impact for the kingdom as this woman. The thing I loved about her most is that she was a total spitfire who would not back down. When you were around Lois, you would hear the truth, with no sugar or apology. You could tell her anything and she would still look you in the eyes with love. I should also say that the second thing I loved most about her was her cooking! Her welcome home must have been amazing.

  5. I can only hope that my life can be a testimony to the Grace of the Lord Jesus as Lois’ has. I was already saved when I first attended her bible study in the cramped basement on a Wednesday evening. I was challenged to witness to those who did not know the saving grace of Jesus and it was never a question of “I’m not skilled to witness”, you did it because we are commanded to in scripture. Lois did not want anyone to walk out that door without a least hearing the gospel several times. She was faithful and steadfast, and we should follow her legacy as a true follower of Christ.

  6. I have known Lois since 1987 when I met her through the North Side Gospel Center, which is how I came to know you Bill.(thanks Lois!)The one thing that always stood out about her is what a godly woman she is.Whenever she taught,it was always about the Bible and not what she thought.(although she never shyed away from giving her opinion)She always complimented me about how good a father/husband she thought I was.She loved my kids as if they were her family. When Kayte and I had to tell her that she was pregnant,(which was often!) she wouldn’t judge us,just love us.She told us that God is just blessing us.I will miss her dearly,but I know she is VERY happy in heaven with Jesus and Don.See you on the other side Lois.

  7. I attended several of those bible studies in that basement where Grace was thought. I was not able to attend the party but I know Lois will be reading all these blogs, so Thank You Lois for your teachings, staying true to the Word, and the meals you served at your home. You truly reflected what a Christians Life should be like and inspired me, along with many others as Pastor Bill said. You truly understood Grace and taught it well and your life reflected what a Christian Life should be like once saved, ….its a journey with our Savior. I pray that when my day comes I’ll hear the same words that God said to you while He held your hand as you walked through those pearly gates ….”My Faithful Servant, WELL DONE! I sit here a sinner saved by Grace, my heart rejoices and I look forward to seeing you and the rest on the other side! Thanks Lois.
    As I think about the other side….One of my favorite songs comes to mind “I can only Imagine” by mercyme.
    I know many of you know the song, but for those of you who don’t Ill type it out for ya.
    “I can only imagine” by mercyme
    I can only imagine what it will be like / When I walk by your side / I can only imagine what my eyes will see / When your face is before me / I can only imagine
    Chorus: Surrounded by your glory / What will my heart feel / Will I dance for you Jesus / Or in awe of you will be still / Will I stand in your presence / Or to my knees will I fall / Will I sing hallelujah / Will I be able to speak at all / I can only imagine / I can only imagine
    I can only imagine when that day comes / And I find myself standing in the Son / I can only imagine when all I will do / Is forever, forever worship you / I can only Imagine / I can only imagine /
    I can only imagine / When all I will do / Is forever, forever worship you
    I can only imagine

  8. I got saved and grew up in the Lord under Lois’s ministry. Lois always welcomed me, in good times and in bad times (which were many). I’ll never forget her smile. I showed my short term mission trip slides at her Bible Study. Since then I’ve made my home in that country. I gave my first talk at her Bible Study, at a Christmas gathering. Since then I’ve talked in much larger settings. As I grew in knowledge, at times during her Bible Study Lois would ask me publicly, “What does the Greek say?”. I now teach Greek and recently published a book in defense of the Historical Jesus. Much of what I do today, that is good, finds its beginning in Lois’s ministry. What an extraordinary servant of God she was! Pete C. Firenze

  9. My older sister MaryPat got saved in Lois Peterson’s basement. Her boyfriend at the time (eventually husband and father to her 8 children) got saved. Lois Peterson’s Bible Study was the first one I ever attended. I got saved on Christmas Eve in 1975 after MaryPat witnessed to me. I grew up a good girl. I enjoyed living within boundries but I always wondered if it would be enough for God……you see I recognized that tho I was a good kid, I was a sinner. How did this reconcile with God? Oh the freedom in knowing now that Christ payed for my sins. What joy! I love freedom in Christ. He is my Rock.

    MaryPat’s friends all attended Lois’ Bible Study and got saved. The ripple effect is immense. To my knowledge, all who attended became Christians. MaryPat and Jim served as missionaries in Mexico. Of their 8 children, 4 have served/are serving in the ministry today.

    I am one of 5 siblings and 4 of us are active in our faith. Praise God. All because Lois opened her house and her heart to anyone. She accepted all right where they were at. We could all learn from her actions.

    Thank you Lois. I love your heart and thank God that you can celebrate eternity.

  10. Though I can’t be at Lois’ funeral today, I’m really encouraged to experience a kind of mini-reunion in these comments. Thanks so much! Send your friends here to add their testimonies and comments!

    Hey Pete C–congrats on the book! Where can I get a copy! I’m so excited, and you couldn’t have chosen a more important topic. Uhhhh… is it in English?

    Feelin’ lots of love right now,

  11. Hey Bill,

    It is great to read your comments on Lois. We attended both the wake and funeral and were deeply moved by the profound spiritual effect Lois had on everyone in the crowd. Remembering those days when we all could just look across the room at each other and know we were in a “spiritual fight” and how important the work was, it just overwhelms us. She taught grace like no one else and unfortunately very few today seem to teach it with the clarity she could. We will miss her!!!!

  12. Hey,
    Anybody want to write a description of Lois’ funeral service? I’d love to hear all about it.

  13. Hey Bill, Thanks for the accurate description of the basement Bible study that Lois taught that so many heard about the Good News. Thanks also to Hank and Nancy for continuing to hold Bible study in the basement after buying from Don and Lois. ‘Get Saved’ was the loving phrase and focus indeed and people prayed while others witnessed. ‘Grace, Grace, Wonderful Grace’. Lois was the best! I met the Lord thru her ministry. Pastor Dick Sisson was no slouch himself and continues to have a loving heart as well. Thanks, Paul Petschelt

  14. I was unable to go the the party for Lois a few weeks ago but I sent her a note that I am happy to share……

    Dear Lois,
    A while back I sent you something by John Piper that talked about our purpose in life…to display the glory of God and that to not do so would make us a mere shadow of what we were created to be. We were made to have God-like substance and make God-like music and have God-like impact.

    You have accomplished that more than almost anyone I have ever known. I want you to know that your life and your teaching has literally saved my life more times that I can count and taught me the most important things a Christian needs to know.

    In John Piper’s meditation, ‘Mere Shadows and Echoes’, he ends with these words. “Death will but dispatch you to paradise. And what you leave behind will not be a mere shadow or echo, but a tribute on earth, written in heaven, to the triumphant grace of God.”

    He may as well be writing about you. We will all miss you but we are comforted by the fact that you will finally be with the Savior you served so well and the husband you loved so dearly.

    Kathy H.

    I honestly don’t know where I’d be or who I’d be right now if my best friend hadn’t dragged me to Lois’ basement bible study in the spring of 1978. She was tireless in answering all my questions (and I had a lot)! She didn’t laugh at me when I brought in my 10 lb. Catholic Family Bible (well, it was the only one I had). I learned the gospel of grace from her and just as importantly, I learned the urgency of sharing the gospel of grace. She taught me to pray. She laid a foundation that enabled me to serve in ways that I never thought possible. And to be perfectly honest, the fellowship, the feeling of family and brotherhood that we all read books about and desperately want to re-create in our churches, just happened naturally in that basement. Go figure.

    I was feeling very nostalgic after the funeral today…so many memories and faces from the past.

    I don’t have many heroes but Lois is high on my very short list. I will be eternally grateful for her life, her teaching and her faithfulness to her calling.

    Kathy H.

  15. This is soooo cool…a cyber reunion in honor of Lois!!! I was thrilled to read the comments of some old (not age wise) friends from Chicago!! (& Italy) 🙂 what a blessing!

    I called Lois a few weeks ago…I had been wanting to write her for years and thank her for the tremendous impact (like you Bill) she has had in my life. When I got the email that she was soon to be with the Lord, I was sure I missed my chance to thank her. Sooo, I called her thinking there was no chance I’d be able to talk with her (would she even remember me?? I left for Massachusetts over 10 years ago and had not spoken with her in ages). Well, I called, and let’s just say I hung up the phone more encouraged than words could express….all I could think and pray was that a life lived for Jesus is the only way to truly live!!!
    I’m so thankful for Lois and Bill G who have chosen to use their God – given gifts to proclaim the awesome Grace of God.
    Remembering and thankful for all of you!
    Cheri Burrer

  16. Lois taught the gopel of Christ with extreme clarity.
    Her emphasis on grace through faith was unparalleled in a watered down world.
    As I sat in her Dining room (pre-smoke filled basement), I heard for the first time that my works were like filthy rags. She explained in a way that made such perfect sense that I believed in the redemptive work of Christ the very first time I heard it.
    A tireless straight-shooting regular woman used by the holy spirit in an EXTRAORDINARY way for the kingdom of God. Indeed the heavens quaked for most every day of her life.

  17. Lois’ Funeral

    The casket stayed in the vestibule of the church. We sang The Old Rugged Cross, Amazing Grace, And Can It Be, Wonderful Words, It is Well with My soul, and a couple of other hymns.

    I won’t remember all that Rich (her son) said nor will I get it perfect, but it went something like this:
    Lois Peterson, born 1931, died 2007, born again 1951
    born a sinner, died a saint
    born alientated, died adopted
    born in Adam, died in Christ
    born lost, died found
    born a daughter of a man and woman, died a son of God
    and the list went on and on…it was beautiful.

    Rich told three stories. One about Lois killing a venomous spider when they were on the mission field and saving Rich’s life. One about Lois not eating much of dinner when Rich would bring kids home for dinner unannounced. And one about a neighbor telling Lois that Bruce had been ringing doorbells and running away; and her response was “not my son!” The point was that her mothering, sacrifices and loyalty did not make her great. Jesus made her great.

    Bob (her son-in-law) told a few stories. The best was when Lois met with Dr. John Walvoord (big wig at Dallas Theo. Sem.) to debate the topic of when the trumpets will sound! And she never finished high school.

    A few grandchildren read some Scripture and said a couple or prayers.

    It was very simple and extraordinarily beautiful.

    At the cemetary, the hearse stopped several hundred feet from the grave. And as we all walked, Becky’s husband played a trumpet. Unbelievably moving. Anyone who wanted to take a turn carrying the casket was invited to do so.

    It will be a long time before I’m out of “Lois mode.”

  18. One of Lois’ many phrases, “Jesus said it-I believe it-that settles it” still rings in our heads. What a blessing she was to so many. We feel so grateful to have her as a continuing part of our lives.
    John & Nancy Braun

  19. In 1974 at the age of 15 I was invited to Lois’ Bible study. Then I got SAVED! I couldn’t get enough of her teaching or the Bible. Initially it was about knowledge. Then that knowledge was used to slowly change my life.

    I couldn’t get enough of Lois either. I looked for ways to be with her …. around her….talking to her. She was a Mom to be and taught me so much more than the Bible.

    It’s going to be a long time before I get over that she is no longer here….even though I have not kept contact. Death is so permanent….at least in this world.

    But she continues to teach me even in death. We often have a houseful of teens and I’ve gotten away from the focus of seeing people SAVED! I’ve settled for being hospitable.

    Not that Lois wasn’t hospitable. But along with dessert came a Bible and the gospel. At the end of the day, what really matters anyway???

    I am eternally (literally) grateful for Lois … for being a faithful servant who preached Christ crucified. And that God’s grace works in us to will and to work for his pleasure.

    In my sadness over her death is extreme joy knowing that she will hear the words “well done good and faithful servant”.

    May we all be found as faithful.

    Marianne (Michalek) Shovan

  20. Reading the many comments about the very ordinary woman Lois was, reminds me why she was extraordinary. She really believed in the power of the gospel and was willing to deliver it unadorned, unapologetically, and unashamed. The legacy of lives transformed by the gospel which she so faithfully preached is testimony to its power, its Author, and what He will do with one who believes.
    I couldn’t help thinking of the Ray Boltz song, “Thank you for giving to the Lord” and imagining the crowd of people who will thank her for what she gave. I will be one. She was no fool to give what she could not keep, to gain what she could not lose. And now she has “slipped the surly bonds of Earth to touch the face of God.” Well done, good and faithful servant.

  21. The first time I ever met Lois was at the party a week or so ago that you referred to; however, I had heard a lot about her in the last 6 years from my wife Robin and others. I have heard about North Side Gospel Center all my life. Robin and I were married 4.5 years ago by one of those pastors you mentioned that had been greatly influenced by Lois’ ministry and is now a pastor at First Free Chicago. Robin was also greatly influenced by Lois. All the people that I have met who attended Lois’ Bible studies, have demonstated grace towards me.

    Robin and I were also at Lois’ wake, including the 1.5 hours of ‘open mike’ time that was very amazing and I’m sure could have easily gone on for 2 or 3 times that long. Based on what I’ve seen and heard, I don’t think you’ve overstated the extent of how God had worked thru Lois (and Don’s) ministry. In fact, you have probably understated it, but we will never know the full extent here on earth.

    Here’s an example of the unknown influence. I’ve known Bill Giovannetti just a little bit, but until the wake, I had never heard that he had been involved with Lois Peterson’s Bible studies (let alone that he was her favorite), but it doesn’t surprise me. About 30 years ago, Bill and I co-led the Awana red team at Wheaton Free(the one year he was at Wheaton College). The highlight of that year was a haunted house the we (mostly Bill) built in the woods next to my parents’ house for the team. More recently, I’ve heard about Bill from some people at Windy City Church, some of them veterans of Lois’ Bible studies.

    While I wasn’t directly influenced by Lois (and Don’s) ministry, I have experienced a very strong indirect influence. I’ll add that the North Side Gospel Center where Lois and a lot of others attended is important to me because it is where my dad became a Christian in the 50’s. I’m glad I had the opportunity to meet Lois even though it was brief and recent. I praise God for the ripple effect of Lois’ ministry and the message of grace.

  22. Hi Bill,

    These messages about our dearly loved Lois are simply astounding. How could we all share such similar sentiments and experiences of this woman? There was no one like Lois, and I count it a great blessing that she took the time to teach me and to love me.

    I first remember her teaching me at Guards, on a Thursday night at the Center. She had this booming voice, blue jeans, earrings, and a sassy style. I loved to listen to her tell us the stories of Scripture! I started attending the Wednesday night Bible study on Lavergne when I was about 12 or 13. I wanted to hear more from Lois and what she had to say about the Bible. At that time, some of the discussion went over my head – after all, I was just a kid. I wondered, what did it really matter whether Paul was talking to the Jews or the Gentiles in this particular passage? What is this business of Jesus giving the disciples the “keys of the Kingdom?” Though I could not quite grasp it all, I sat rapt with attention as the discussion would deepen and heat up. These people had strong opinions and really wanted to understand Scripture accurately. They dug deep and they came back each week for more. And so did I. Thank you Lois for instilling in me such a deep, abiding love for God’s word to us!

    More than just a teacher, Lois was a spiritual mentor and counselor to me. I could confide anything and everything to her, and she would respond in some way that would surprise me and clarify my situation. What a woman of wisdom! I often reflect on how Lois could balance truth and compassion as I approach my own work with the broken and the lost. Just striving to be more like Lois…more like Jesus.

    I am overwhelmed with nostalgia as I read these messages from my brothers and sisters in Christ. I miss the community that existed over the years at the Center, at Camp, in the basement on Lavergne, at Windy City. I must be sentimental and tell you all that I love you and wish you God’s best. May we make Lois proud, and please our Lord in heaven, as we strive to further the building of His Kingdom.

    Connie Valentini

  23. Lois’s wake/memorial was a wonderful gathering of distantly familiar faces; people of all ages. Some in wheelchairs, some held within the arms of their parents. Some of the folks that stepped up to speak about Lois were; MaryAnn & Ken Chovan, Jan Gropp w/ Joel, Frank Phee, Randy Heiti, some old biddies from the Luther Village Bible study, Dan Schustek, Kathy Pedersen, Brian McLaughlin. There were many more but I can’t recall at this time. There were children running around outside of the sanctuary being “wrangled” by their parents or relatives. Rich Peterson kicked everyone out of the church at 9pm, but just like old times, the conversations continued in the dark – outside of the church (Arlington Heights is lovely this time of year!).

    The funeral service appeared to have more attenders than the wake. The weather was just gorgeous that day! Very sunny and summery. This is in direct contrast to Don’s funeral (gray, cold, rainy and miserable). Service was lovely. I was struck by the largeness of the church sanctuary – and how it seemed to absorb all the people. It created a contrasting eerie quiet compared to the hustle and bustle found in Lois’s classes. But it was a FUNERAL afterall! There were about 200 people in my estimation.

    The long line of cars dominated the streets of Arlington Heights all the way to the cemetery. Folks walked 100 yards or so toward the burial site. As they got out of their cars they were greeted by the melody of a distant tune – Not sure where it was coming from. A mob of people were walking through the meticulously groomed grounds of the cemetery on a beautiful summer day carrying a large wooden casket. Men, women, children, women carrying children, all took turns bearing the casket on it’s final journey to ground. Bruce was at the front of the procession and snapped a few photos. I also did this, on the sly, with my camera phone. It was a really cool thing to see, I couldn’t resist. (As soon as I learn how to get them off of my camera phone I will send them – I need a cable) Hymns played on the trumpet; victory in Jesus, Great is they faithfulness, Blessed Assurance. (my husband, Rob, played).

    All gathered at the grave, Rich gave a few parting thoughts. Everyone cried; the gentle giant, the old grandmothers, the rest of us. Bill Sherreos closed in prayer. Then Bruce gathered everyone together for a few photos (casket excluded). We parted and had “church-style” luncheon of sandwiches, various jellos, lemonade and “bad coffee”.

  24. I got saved back in Nov 1972 in reading the Late Great Planet Earth by Hal Lindsey. I had been a Catholic, and didn’t know much about the Bible. What I learned after salvation, I mostly picked up from reading popular Christian books at the local bookstores, mostly books on Bible prophecy. Then a fellow told me about a Bible study being taught by someone named Lois Peterson. I came, and stayed. I can truly say Lois was my spiritual mom, because I learned so much about the Bible, God and grace from her. My favorites memory of her would be the times she would raise and shake her Bible in the air, and tell the class, “Christians, you have no excuse not to know the Book!” I took up her challenge, and bought and read a parallel four translation New Testament. When I finished that, I bought a King James entire Bible, and read through that. (I remember feeling, Man, is the book of Numbers ever a drag! This guy begat that guy and the other one, etc, etc.)

    While I could not make the funeral, I am so glad I came to the party and saw Lois one last time. I would not have missed that for anything! She had not seen me in years, and told me she was shocked. When I went to give her a hug, she said, the toes! (I accidentally stepped on them.) Then, graciously, she said, Hug again, but without the toes. (We did.)

    I am so glad and privileged to have known Lois, and miss her already. Still, as Amy Grant used to sing, “In a little while we’ll be with the Father, can’t you see Him smile?” We’ll see Lois again, and all our brothers and sisters in the Lord. Maranatha!

  25. It is wonderful to read all the emails that have been sent. Thank you Bill for setting this up. Many of you I haven’t seen for years but remember well when you were coming to Lois’s and then many of you coming to the Church Tom Pastored in West Bend and in Chicago.

    Through Lois’s ministry Tom Schmidt got saved and by the grace of God we were able to start a Church in West Bend Wi. Through that ministry (which is still alive and well) several other churches have been started in the Wisconsin area.

    I remember going to Lois’s when she held the bible study in her dining room. She and my mother (Jean Duberville) were the best of friends and Lois was always there for her during the 40 years they shared their friendship.

    We will never really know all of the lives she has touched but we do know that no one passed through her life without hearing about the marvelous gift of grace.

    She never judged, she always listened, and she always made you feel you were “her favorite”. She loved us all the same just as the Father loves us.
    And that is pretty cool!

    My fondest memories are the days at Camp Awana where she and Don taught me how to cook for the Camp. I can still see her know sharing Christ with someone while wiping her hands on her apron so she could open her bible and Don left to do the cooking. Don was an incredible!
    I will miss them both but rejoice in knowing that they are together in the presence of all that glory. Now that is exciting!

    June Barnard

  26. Bill,
    This has been so interesting! So many people – some names that I recognize and some that I don’t.

    You’re comments in the beginning of your tribute to Lois made me laugh because even though you may not remember me, I grew up a bit ahead of you in your home church. I hate to admit that back then, if I had even known about Lois Peterson and the Bible study in the smoky basement, I would have been one of the self-righteous who would make those comments.

    How ironic that when I was in my early 30’s, God would use this dear lady so powerfully in my life. Even though I was saved in VBS as a child, legalism caused me to have a pretty warped view of God. Enter Lois – into the life of this very needy young mom. As Grace gripped my heart, it was like being born again – again.

    I had the awesome privilege of hosting Lois’ Wednesday morning Bible study for about 17 years – until 5 years ago. Life dealt us several pretty serious blows during those years but it seemed most of them happened on Tuesdays – and Lois was there for me on Wednesdays. How I thank God for her ministry in my life!

    I was at the party a couple of weeks ago and at the visitation (open microphone) on Sunday. The song “I Can Only Imagine” keeps going through my head as I picture Lois face to face with the Saviour she loved and served so faithfully.

    Thanks for this arena to share the overflow of our hearts.

    Sandy Sundin

  27. Hi Bill,

    Your testimony of Lois’ teaching of the gospel of grace is beautiful and so true. I listened to your very first sermon at Windy City (at Pulaski & Irving) and your sermons throughout the years until your departure to Naperville BECAUSE of that gospel of grace that you always preached.

    Some thoughts I had late last night about Lois—
    Lois loved her coffee HOT. For the past eight years, Berna (my husband’s cousin and only saved Italian relative) has been hosting Monday morning bible study at her home. We always gave Lois a smaller mug and never poured it to the top so the coffee usually didn’t have a chance to get cold before she was ready for a refill, which we always poured for her—we didn’t want her to have to be interrupted. During class, she could easily bring us to laughter as she gave us her very frank opinion or honest advice on something.

    Since she loved visiting her sons and family in Nebraska and her daughter and family in Texas, she went whenever she had the opportunity. Sometimes she bought (or the kids supplied her) an airline ticket, other times she drove her car with Barb or another relative or friend but many times she drove alone. I asked her if she was afraid to drive that long distance by herself – her answer was “I’m not alone –God is taking care of me!” She was pretty fearless.

    Lois taught as many as four bible classes a week (not summers) until her surgery. When she was able after the surgery to get around a little, she went back to teaching Thursday mornings at Luther Village until a few weeks ago. When her son Richard spoke at her memorial service, he said the only reason she went through the esophageal cancer surgery was that the doctor said she could possibly have up to two more years to live and she still wanted to be able to reach some of the Luther Village ladies with the gospel. If she didn’t have the surgery, she would have had weeks only. Even after the surgery Lois continued to struggle with constant pain.

    Lois experienced extreme tragedies in her life and cried tears of sorrow.
    She loved her husband, her children (and their spouses), her grandchildren and great grandchildren deeply. She never bragged but you knew she was proud of their accomplishments. Many times at the bible study she prayed for unspoken prayer requests including her own.

    I got saved through Lois’ teaching in the basement on Lavergne around 1979 after my two older teenagers were saved there. I remember going there to give Lois a PIECE of my MIND (when they told me that no matter what they did in the future they were going to heaven)—Lois opened the Bible and within days I was saved and received PEACE of MIND. Lois was not only my spiritual mother but my teacher, counselor, confidante, true friend for approximately 28 years, witnessing to my mom (who is probably celebrating with Lois in heaven as I speak), mentoring my daughters, attending their showers and weddings, gracing us with prayer at our family celebrations, and graciously always being there for me and my kids (including many late night phone calls). We loved her and felt that she truly loved us. It was a privilege to visit with her at her home over the past few months. Even through the pain she always displayed the grace of God. I thank God for His blessing of Lois in our lives!! I thank God also for her family who had to share Lois with SO many of us!!

  28. When I was invited to Lois Peterson’s bible study I was already saved and had some grace teaching so it was wonderful to find a study such as hers. I loved Lois for her perseverance in teaching week after week, her love of Scripture and her heart for evangelism. I really appreciated being able to attend a study that attracted others of kindred spirit thirsting after God’s word. She left footsteps we could definitely follow in….as her son Rich said ‘The Lord’s work is not done!’

  29. “I’ll see you on the other side” I said as I left her that day. “Yeah, I’ll see you on the other side” she said with the biggest smile, her smile. Yes I too was saved in that crowded musky basement. She hit me with that standard question, “if you died tonight would you go to heaven or hell?” and I gave her the wisest answer a pot smoking , drug user could. “Yup you’re going to hell…….” most of you who know her, know the rest. Lois showed me that the doors to heaven were open to me through Jesus’ great work. that first night in that basement was the first day of my rebirth as a believer. Your right she didn’t tell me about how I needed to change my life. A half year later I was in prison for acts I committed while still persisting in that drug filled lifestyle. But even then i Knew that God’s hand was on me protecting me, teaching me that if I was going to identify with Christ I could not continue, nor would he allow me live that old life. HE had given me a new life. And if I wanted to reap all that he had for me I would need to change. Through the years Lois saw me through that change. As I grew in grace, and married, became a husband and then a father and grandfather Lois was there. Five children and three grandchildren later, I praise God that he extended his grace to all of my children also. The little group in Lois’ basement that I was a part of went on to become Good News Bible Church and I can’t number the souls who have come to Christ through that ministry. What ever you think of fate or predestination you have to agree that Lois has a place in all of that. Amazing Grace, how sweet… how sweet!

  30. Dear Bill,

    My thoughts travel to Lois many times a day, as I’m sure they will until the trumpet sounds or I go home.

    In my minds eye, her face still smiles at me; her eyes still radiate her love and acceptance of me; her gracious words of comfort and wisdom still whisper their magic in the early morning hours when I wake. I know I’ve been truly loved by a Great Woman of God.

    She fed me. She fed me WELL. Her cooking, as many of us know, was outstanding. But, when she feasted with us on the Word of God, there was no greater banquet anywhere, ever, in the whole world. She made Jesus REAL. HE was there for us, loving us, fellowshipping bountifully with us. We learned from His word the words of grace, sweet grace. We learned that WE were the joy that was set before Him, so that He endured the cross. We learned that we love HIM because He first loved us. We learned to come, heavy-laden, and He will give us rest.

    So much more…… Those of us saved in the dining room (as I was in March, 1971), and later on in that smoky basement, we were shown GRACE, and not just in initial salvation. We saw the face of Jesus in the words of scripture, rightly divided (yes, even though I had a NEW Scofield, not the OLD Scofield!) and thus, we want to do NOTHING less than to follow Him for the rest of our lives, no matter what! We have the liberty to love: abundantly, faithfully, with fervor the world (and many times the church) is missing. We were grounded, saturated in grace and the Word of the Lord. That’s why we were still at the Peterson house at 2:00 in the morning, several times a week in the early days! We ate, drank, and spoke Bible! We went to work on 3-4 hours of sleep, and WITNESSED to our coworkers! Then, they came, and they got SAVED! Then our relatives got saved! Then we married and our children got saved! We were a bunch of hippies, renegades, mixed up kids, who were CHANGED by the POWER of CHRIST through HIS WORD.

    The Word of God is living, and powerful, sharper than any two-edged sword. And boy! Were we set straight when we took that Word out of context! Lois said, “If you don’t remember anything else I’ve said, remember: CONTEXT, CONTEXT, CONTEXT!”

    We will remember that, dear Lois. Her passion: to show us Christ through His Word. Because we’ve seen Christ, the world will never be the same. May we show the world the Christ that was shown us.

    There is no currency in heaven, only the folks who are there because we shared the Word of Life with them, and they too, have believed in the saving blood of Christ. It is our extreme honor to live out our faith with the passion of Christ burning in our hearts, because we were grounded correctly. Lois said she was so glad she could bring forth fruit, even in her latter years. For us, her spiritual children, now middle-aged, may we continue to hold out the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ to a hurting world, and SHOW them G-R-A-C-E.

    Thank you, Lord, for the gift you gave us for 36 years in Lois Peterson. We miss her dearly, but we know it’s our turn to continue to turn the world upside down with Your outrageous love that will not let us go. Thank you for your servant, Lois, who ‘told it to us right!’ May we continue the legacy.

    Love to all,
    (so GREAT to see so many of you at the services for Lois),

    Vassi McNally

    P.S. Sorry, Bill, but I’m sure she loved me best!
    (How come we ALL think that?)

  31. In 1993, as a struggling person of the world, I was recommended by my cousin Sharon Valentini to attend a bible class taught by Lois Peterson at Linda Wren’s house. I thought to myself, I don’t want to be surrounded by a bunch of holy rollers. Sharon convinced me to at least come one time, and if I didn’t like it, I wouldn’t have to go back. Well the first time I met Lois, I was way out in left field about what she was saying. I was entrigued with her knowledge and spiritual confidence. I thought maybe I could get like that. She certainly knew where she was going when she left this world. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get to heaven because I didn’t believe I was a sinner. I told her, I didn’t commit any mortal sins. Lois’s response was sin is sin in Gods eyes, and if you’re not a sinner, he died on the cross in vain. After many classes, I finally accepted that I was a sinner and got saved. Since that time, I attended Monday morning Bible Class where I was constantly spiritually fed. I hosted her class for the last 8 years. I sat next to her in amazement every week with her knowledge and wisdom . I spent some time with her these last few months and as usual she was as gracious as always. I will truly miss her. I have never met anyone like her, and I doubt if I ever will. Thanks Sharon, for that day you convinced me to come to one of Lois’s classes. I will never forget the best gift I ever received! Berna Valentini

  32. From Sharon Lee (used to be Hoth)

    Lois has had a profound impact on my life, as on the lives of so many of us. Not only did I soak in her bible studies, I worked for her and Don on occassion helping cater a wedding or a mother daughter banquet, or whatever.
    She had the New Tribes connection and I tapped into her experiences and wisdom as my husband Don and I joined NTM and served two terms in the Philippines, and 5 years in Russia. We are now missionaries to India and my main ministry is teaching. I find myself repeating what my teachers taught me. (Teach, and Lois). After two years with NTM in India I was told I could no longer teach in the training schools, because I am a woman. My husband said he would not keep me from teaching and we left NTM and are now with New Hope International. Once we get our support level where it needs to be we will go back to India and I will be once again be teaching. I know Lois would be proud, and tell me to go for it!!! May we all have the profound influence in others lives as Lois had in ours. Sharon Lee

  33. We love you lois, and you will truly be missed. you’ve
    left behind some big shoes to be filled.

  34. Wow!! I just have to say how impressed I am with what you all have said about Lois Peterson. Praise God! She is such an example for all of us. I’m so sad I never got to meet her here, but know we will have lots of time together in heaven to just chat and chat!
    Now that Ruth Bell Graham has gone home, too, there’s more quaking going on. This generation of people has truly impacted the world with their Godly, sensitive, and serving hearts for the Lord. It’s truly humbling to realize we do have so many huge shoes to fill! May we all get down to the business of the King!!

  35. For me, the most striking aspect of Lois’ allure was her unwavering, unparalleled certainty of her final destination: Heaven. I have never, in my life, encountered such an individual who possessed such a rare and outward confidence of her salvation. She lived in the present for eternity’s sake. For eternity’s sake! (And, that was her life’s calling from the moment she was saved until the end of her life.) I admit, that is what made me gravitate toward her, want more of her and her teachings.

    As with many of you, I have shared some incredibly special moments with Lois. One moment in particular, I will never forget. She single-handedly changed my life that day. And, somewhere inside me, I will carry her around for the rest of my days, as I do with those who profoundly affect me.

    Thank you, Bill, for your tribute to Lois. It was a lovely sentiment.

  36. Pingback: Blast from the Past: Ironside, “What is the Gospel?” « maxgrace.com

  37. That basement was like a palace to me as a young man, and younger Christian in a time when this world was also going through some wacky turbulances.
    Knowing the way Lois mentored and shared with my sister Anne, then Anne taking me under her wing, well I know how fortunate I was to have known Lois and what she taught.
    Watching Lois teach, and reach out to everyone in such a natural way…I was so fortunate to share in those early learning times. Lois reflected what she taught. So many from just a little basement. When I think back that basement never seemed bigger than it does now!

    Thank you Bill for your accurate and kind words.

  38. Hi Bill:

    I never attended any of Lois Peterson’s Bible Studies, but she did help me with counselling during a very difficult time in my life. She never held back any punches and hit me where I needed the most help, but her loving kindness and true Christian love helped me when I needed it the most. Although I could not see her before her homecoming to heaven, I think of her often and thank God for her kindness and conselling that was provided to me at my lowest point in life. She always had time for everyone and opened her home and her heart to all. She was one of the few people who I have known in my life who lived their Christianity and did not just preach it!!

  39. We both attended Lois’ Monday Night Bible Study for almost three years. Her teaching style of the Bible was unlike any other that we had ever heard. She really knew the Scripture and made it clear regardless of what level of learning you were at. The love of God in Jesus flowed through Lois as she spoke the Word to us all. Her hope was that all that attended her classes would go on to teach (many have). We loved the way she valued us like family. Thank you Jesus for putting Lois Peterson in our lives!

  40. I was only about 4 when my older brother and sisters began taking me over to the house across the street… to the Bible study… to VBS on the bus… to the Center… and those experiences have changed my life, the lives of many in my family, and the lives we are privileged to touch… for all of eternity!!
    As soon as I could read, I remember reading aloud from the Bible in Lois’ class. For years I played in the corner during my Mom’s Monday morning Bible class. I remember studying Revelations at the Howe’s house with Lois in high school. I remember calling her during college and subsequent years whenever faced with what, to me at the time, was a huge decision or situation.
    And more recently, I am so thankful for all the experiences my husband Tim and I have shared together with Lois. Imagine, my husband from Seattle, who came to Chicago to go to Moody, knew who I was talking about when I told him that I just needed to talk to this woman Lois, I needed her input on yet another turning point in my life. He said what is her last name? And I’m thinking how in the world could he know “my” Lois?! But God is so creative! And he did, through Randi and Eric Peterson and had even spent holidays in her home.
    What an unexpected blessing that my husband knew and shared the deep love I have for Lois and the desire to learn from her. We had so much counseling with her during our dating and engagement. Her testimony of a life lived fully poured out for the Lord is amazing and a continual challenge to me. Teaching even in her last days… what a heart to reach every person possible with the Good News of saving faith in Jesus Christ!! Tim and I were blessed with a beautiful and quality visit with Lois a few weeks back. We talked about the song “Thank You for Giving to the Lord” and the long line of people who will greet her in Heaven and say just that… and I am one, who with a full heart of love and thankfulness, will thank her for giving to the Lord, and in doing so, leaving an enormous imprint on my heart and life forever. Lois… I miss you and I love you and I look forward to seeing you again!!
    Gina Valentini Olsen

  41. I did not meet lois as a result of her bible study in that basement in Jeff Park. I did not get saved in her class or as a result of it. I only knew her for the last 7 years of her life…. but, my life has been enriched, my spiritual head is bigger, and my spiritual muscles are stronger as a result of her life and ministry anyway.

    The first time I met lois, I walked into her house a cocky Moody student and pastor’s kid. I had befriended her granddaughter Randi (who is now married to one of my closest friends Eric), and had been invited to spend a night outside the “moody bubble” at her home in Des Plaines with movies and ice cream, and bad coffee. I walked in, was introduced with 6 or 7 of my new friends as we piled into her living room. I asked, “can i call you grandma?” in my usual cocky over-comfortableness. Her relpy became the first brick in the foundation of my love for her and respect for her. She said, “nope, that’s only for my real grandkids. But, you can call me Lois.” And then she greeted the next person.

    Over the next few years, I was blessed to be able to sit with her around her dining room table like the countless others, and debate 1John over turkey, gravey, and salad with 18 different dressigs on the table. I learned a ton at that table. From theology to the life philosophy of “we are all going to die anyway… do you want another cup of coffee?” I was enriched.

    The previous entry was my lovely amazing wife who GOT SAVED because her ministry rippled through her family. When Gina and I realized our common love and respect for Lois, seperate from eacho other, I first gained the perspective of the “ripples” that show in these blog entries.

    I wish we could have attended the services, but we were unable to return to the country. I will miss Lois. I will treasure the time I had to soak her up. I will always love her memory and her family that she leaves behind… She taught us how to live. She taught us how to die. I want to be in that line of people who say “thank you for giving to the Lord”…
    Timothy Olsen

  42. hello my name is Jim Tucci. Lois was an evangelist bar none.I got saved on November 12 1976 in her basement,I went there nine months before to watch a movie “A Thief in the Night”. A girl by the name of Jerry Ferrot talked to me after the movie.To this day I remember answering every question I had with her Bible in hand. I was so mad after that. My wife Mary Pat and I went back to “that basement”nine months later. Lois was in Romans chapter 3 and read that all have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God.But then she emphazied the “free gift” is available to all who would recieve. That night a received and haven’t been the same since.I did lose my dear wife Mary Pat twelves years ago which has been a great loss but heaven has gained, as the Father has had her for twelve years.
    Lois is now there with the Lord and Mary Pat. I am sure Lois as well as Mary Pat heard these words from their savior, “Well done my good and faithful servents”.
    I have been in full time ministry for a long time,five years in Mexico as a missionary and now co-pastoring a church in West bend Wisconsin. I did get remarried to a wonderful woman. Mary jane married me with eight children and we have one boy togethrt.
    thank you Lois for you love for Jesus and also a thank you to Jerry Ferrot who had a big part in my salvation.

    Jim Tucci

  43. I am inspired today. We have her life and legacy to live up to…but we also have her as a part of that “Great Cloud of Witnesses” she is cheering us on to do more. The greatest way to honor her is for thousands yea millions to use their basements, livingrooms, coffee pots, BBQ’s and bring millions unto “Salvation.”

    Yes…get’em saved!

  44. The first night I attended Lois’s Bible study, October 1983, I got saved. That was the first time I ever attended a Bible Study. The way she presented the gospel was straight forward, no beating around the bush. She made it so clear. A woman who understood grace at a time when legalism was the norm. She actually saved me from taking my life. What a legacy Lois leaves behind. She has touched thousands of lives with the grace of God. What a true blessing she has been and I so look forward to seeing her again. I haven’t seen her in years, yet she is so close to my heart. God used her in other ways in my life and in my family’s life that we will never forget her love and dedication to our Lord Jesus!

  45. It is so interesting to me to find that in reading everyone’s heartfelt notes – no one has mentioned the obvious. WE WERE ALL SO DIFFERENT then! Yes, we were (ARE) all sinners, yes some of us smoked – and not just cigarrettes, yes, we all pretty much drank that nasty coffee! But Lois didn’t care! Why? Because she loved every single one of us who walked down to that basement. It was immediate! She not only taught about God’s grace and love – she lived it!!
    But let me tell you a little about me….and Lois. I am a dark-skinned, curly haired Puerto Rican who grew up Catholic in the Humboldt Park area of Chicago. My parents didn’t want me to go to the neighborhood high school, so I was sent to Alvernia High School – on the North side – not too far from Lois’. I GRADUATED WITH MARY PAT WOODS – WHO IS MENTIONED ABOVE by her sister. My understanding is that she too, is with Lois. Man, Mary Pat was a trip and I loved her.
    Anyway, back to Lois…. I went to that basement along with Debbie O’Donovan, Luis Pacheco, Cindy (Santia) Gerena, Josie Ortiz, Jan and Wayne Gropp – and many others. Yes, JERRY W who wrote above was also in our lives – he taught our Young Adult Bible study, after we stopped going to Lois’ and before we started our church. Did you get that? Luis mentioned it above – a church!! Can you believe that?!?! Wayne Gropp is our Pastor and he went to Lois.’

    Now-back to my point. Lois didn’t care what part of town we came from. She didn’t care about the color of our skin, the texture of our hair or what our beliefs were. LOIS CARED ABOUT OUR SOULS! LOIS CARED ABOUT OUR ETERNAL LIVES. Lois NEVER judged. She was sincere, honest and caring.

    Lois is my spiritual mother, too. The night she first talked to me about salvation, I was high. But I went back the following week and HEARD it. I heard the same question, “if you died tonight, would you go to heaven or hell?” And I had the answer many others did, too. “I’m a good person, I’m going to heaven.” But I asked her if it was a “trick question.” And she said, YES. The rest is history.

    Lois taught us all about the love of God and about salvation through His son Jesus. But what I loved about her most, is that she talked to all of us in a way we understood. No Christianese, no bible lingo – just straight up, in our faces, “don’t believe and you’ll be in hell for eternity, Engish.”

    God gave her the wisdom to talk to each person that went in that basement, in a way they would understand and believe. The words may have been different, but the message was the same, loud and clear.

    Yes, we may have been different, but her message – God’s message, was the same. And we are all so truly blessed because of her!

  46. Its truly amazing how many lives have entered or will be entering the kingdom because Lois was willing to obey God and teach God’s GRACE. Reading these testimonies have brought tears to my eyes. I did not know Lois from the bible studies but remember her and Don from camp Awana. (which still is the best camp in the entire world) We were a group of know it all teenagers at that time- but when it came to Lois and Don we could not believe just how “cool” the older cooks in the kitchen were. I always loved the way she told it how it is.

  47. I best remember Lois from Camp Awana when she was invited to teach at a college age retreat one Labor Day weekend long ago. I know it spun some heads around up there that weekend. Whoever invited her showed courage considering the theological differences being aired at the time.

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