Margaret Brown (left) with her Crusader Leader, Valerie Coombs (right)

Age 100 and still praying for her girls

4th May 2022

Jo Slater met one of our supporters last summer, who shared the story of her own Crusader Leader - who despite being 100 years old still regularly prays for the members of her Group...

I met Margaret Brown, a former Girl Crusader at Hove, during the summer when we were both cooking at Studland - something she has been doing for well over 20 years. This is an impressive length of service, but she follows in good footsteps. Her Crusader Leader, Valerie Coombs, is now aged 100 and is still regularly praying for 150 named ‘girls’. I rang Valerie to learn more about her days in Crusaders...

Valerie, from a non-Christian home, began to attend Hove Girl Crusaders at the age of 13 after a friend kept badgering her to come. At the age of 17, in 1938, she went to a Camp at Rhuddlan School, North Wales where she gave her life to the Lord.

Valerie told me, “I’m so grateful for people who had been praying for me. The Officers were amazing – they transformed my life. I remember how naughty we were. We giggled, we upset the Class, we didn’t listen.

“My over-riding memory is the people who put up with me and prayed for me. I’m so thankful that people bothered about me and were always there if you wanted to talk. That’s what young people need now – to have people they can talk to, to hear the Word of God. The most important thing is to teach the Word of God. I’m still in touch with about 10 or 11 of the girls.

“I was a Leader for over 40 years, firstly an Assistant Leader and then a Leader, until 1983. Our Class was (and remained) a GCU Class (Girl Crusaders’ Union) but we were worked closely with the Boys’ Class at Hove, and also with the CUGA (Crusaders’ Union Girls’ Association) Leaders in Hove. It was difficult with the whole GCU / CUGA issue – mistakes were made but they were wonderful people and helped me enormously. I’m very grateful for the opportunities and the training I had for how to lead and deal with situations, especially as I was very shy.

“The hardest times have been the disappointments that girls you thought would go on with Jesus didn’t. I wish I had done more. We have to take all the opportunities we have to tell them about Jesus.

“I’ve seen God working in the lives of rebellious girls who have come back years later, as Christians, to say thank you. We were there to sow the seed, even if they don’t respond at the time. I have a list of well over 150 girls and I pray for them, that the seed in them will come to life. I know God knows each of them.”

Margaret has nothing but praise for Valerie: “It has been a joy and a privilege to reconnect with Valerie (Miss Coombs!) over the last few years, and experience again her love, humour and devotion for her ‘girls’. Thank you, Valerie, for your lifetime of praying and sharing Jesus and his Word with us all.”

Jo Slater - Supporter Relations Coordinator

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