Born in India to Anglo Indian parents, Margo Heyburn has certainly experienced her fair share of change over the years. Having lost two husbands to heart disease, moved countries with a young son and running her own business, one thing has remained certain: Margo’s love for the Scriptures.
They have been a constant source of strength and something she is passionate about sharing.
Interview:Aimee Cowan Read:5-10mins
How did you come to know Jesus?
I became a Christian when I was a very young girl; I was nine. My father and mother were both Christians, so I had a really wonderful foundation. One day my father bought me a book as a gift and before giving it to me he wrote my name in the front of it, in his fancy writing. I was really, really pleased with this as my other two sisters hadn’t received a gift. But my enthusiasm waned when I discovered it was a dictionary. The pages were really fine paper and while flicking through, I tore a page in my brand-new book. I was horrified as I knew what would happen (I came from a very strict home) so I just closed the book and put it away. However, I had a younger sister (she was only five), who asked to see my book. Of course, I said, “No.” She begged me and pretty soon, it was a full-on argument with mum coming to see what was wrong. After mum chatted to us about ‘sharing’, I eventually let my sister have a turn at the book. Within a few minutes she handed the book back to me. And then I got a very good idea! I quickly turned to the page that I’d torn and took it to mum, saying “look what she did!” Mums are so clever. She quickly worked out it was me who did it and she took me aside and took out her Bible. She turned to the book of Revelation, (we only had the King James version), she turned to the very last verse of the second last chapter and read it to me. “And there shall in no wise enter into it (heaven) anything that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” Rev 21:27
I had no idea what all this meant, except the lie part. Mum said, “There it is, in black and white in the Bible to say that you will not go to heaven if you have told a lie.” Mum explained to me that Jesus was the lamb of God and that He died so that my sin could be forgiven and my name could be written in His book. I just imagined God that day with a big pen writing my name in His book. That was how I came to faith, and I began to understand the concept of the holiness of God.
You have always taught bible study groups and have a genuine love for the scriptures. How did that come about?
I went to boarding school, Breeks Memorial, now called Hebron, in India, and there was a discipline where every morning at 7am, a bell rang, and you had to get up. At 7:15am another bell rang that meant you had to be reading your bible or praying until 7:30am. It gave you time to read and think about things that were important. When I was about 12 or 13, I was asked to be a Sunday school teacher. The curriculum was 1 & 2 Kings. it was daunting but it gave me a desire to study. I got into a habit of reading the bible every day.
Studying the scriptures started when I was young, but the more I’ve studied the more I’ve realised its importance.
Margo, you sadly lost your first husband quite early on. How did you and your son cope after his passing?
Yes, my husband was 38 when he died suddenly of a heart attack. Our son was 8. We were in Canada at the time working with Youth for Christ and we were just about to go back to India. When I was widowed my first reaction was to go home to Mum & Dad. They had left India and had settled in Australia. My mum had started a Party-Plan business importing and selling hand crocheted lace doilies. She suggested I work in it with her to earn an income while I got on my feet. It ended up lasting 25 years!
But what started as just selling lace, quickly turned into an opportunity to evangelise, didn’t it?
I could not for the life of me, see myself hawking doilies for a living for the rest of my life. But God had other plans. A short while later I met Sam Heyburn, a widower from Northern Ireland who also had a young son. He was the Brisbane Director of Youth for Christ hence the common interests. We married when our boys were 10 and 12. I stayed on in Brisbane and I continued to sell lace doilies. I eventually bought the business and moved away from the Party Plan idea. I sold wholesale and supplied craft shops around Australia. The Shabby Chic look was all the rage. Eventually teaching at the craft shows around Australia provided opportunities not just to sell lace but also to share the gospel.
And how did you do that?
I started to tell the story of how hand crocheted lace came to be made in India. It is not an indigenous craft. British missionaries came to India with the intention of sharing the gospel; to tell of the love of Jesus who died to pay for our sins. This was a new concept to the Hindu mind as Hinduism teaches that you have to pay for your own sins. The concepts of karma and re-incarnation are based on your sins. So, forgiveness was ‘good news’ and some believed. They became Christ followers or Christians. This provoked the anger of their families and many new Christians found themselves outcast and penniless.
It was then that the missionaries, most of them women, taught the new Christians to crochet, making lace doilies which were sold back in the UK. This provided the new Christians with some revenue, and today over 100 years later in that part of India Christians are still involved in the manufacture of crochet lace.
So just like you, their names were written in the Lamb’s book of life!
Yes, I have had the privilege of sharing the gospel through the story of the lace to many hundreds of women at Craft Shows and classes around Australia.
Sadly, Sam passed away in 2004 and I sold my business and retired but I still have a weekly women’s growth group at Riverlife where I teach the Scriptures. I have discovered that if you love the Word of God, you will love the God of the Word, and that’s been true in my life.
To watch a short video version of this interview, click here.