The Early Years
The youngest of 7 children, Marie was born in 1934 on the prairies of Saskatchewan. She sensed a call to missions even as a young girl and from the age of 8 her stated goal was to be a missionary. Indeed, Marie’s mother had dedicated her to God’s service even before she was born.
In her early teens, Marie’s family moved west to BC where she remained until heading back to Saskatchewan to attend Canadian Bible College in Regina. The year was 1952. It was there that Marie met a young man named Norman Ens whom she would marry four years later.
Living On Mission
Upon graduation in 1957, the young couple pastored a small prairie church, began their family and confirmed their call to missionary service. They were open to serving anywhere in the world and when they eventually were assigned to Cambodia, they had to find a globe to see where it was located!
Who could have known that when the Ens family was assigned to Cambodia in 1960 that it would begin a life-long love affair with that country which continues to this day.
Marie and Norman and their four children served with the Christian & Missionary Alliance in Cambodia until the country fell to the Khmer Rouge in 1975. After a brief stint pastoring a church in Canada, the Ens relocated to France where they worked with refugees and pastored a Cambodian church in Paris. This continued until Norman’s sudden death in 1991 when he suffered a massive heart attack.
Marie now found herself a widow and struggling to find her place in ministry without her partner of 35 years by her side. But God was faithful and in 1994, Marie followed her heart back to Cambodia when the country reopened to the West. At that time, single and approaching retirement age, God gave her a significant role to play in helping the church in a hurting country which was trying to rebuild. Marie had come home to where her missionary career began many years earlier.
Upon reaching her 65th birthday a few years later, as per policy, Marie was asked to retire by the C&MA mission board in the USA. She did so reluctantly, coming back to Canada to get her bearings in this new phase of life. However, it didn’t take long for Marie to realize that her retirement dream was back in the land that she loved. So in 2001 she returned once more to Cambodia, where God continues to use her greatly, retired or not!
Place Of Rescue
Today, well into her retirement, you will find Marie living at an orphanage and AIDS hospice called Place of Rescue, located just outside the capital city of Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Working with a team of dedicated Cambodian staff, Marie cares for AIDS patients and their families, for over 400 orphans, and for grannies who have been left destitute with no one to care for them. All of these people call Marie “Ma yeah”, the Cambodian word for Grandma.
For this Canadian Grandma, there is no place she would rather be. After giving her heart to Cambodia years ago, she gladly serves there now with great joy and a deep sense of fulfillment. Marie celebrated her 80th birthday this past year, and still prays for many more years of service for God and the people she loves in Cambodia!