A. THE NEW LIFE IN CHRIST
EXCHANGING THE CARAVAN FOR A HOME
Living in a caravan, enabled us to save a considerable amount of money in a very short time, which, in turn, enabled as to buy a brand-new house in a new suburb of Pretoria. We moved in, having just about no furniture at all. We had a double bed mattress which we laid on the floor of the main bedroom. There was no dressing table; we only had a broken piece of mirror which we leaned against the wall. I also remember clearly that we had an “Easy” washing machine which belied its name. It never was easy to use, not that piece of equipment. It was out of order most of the time and I had to open it up and repair it again and again. But young people see no obstacles. To them life is there to be enjoyed. We bought second-hand furniture, the first items being an embuia double bed and a very fancy accompanying dressing table. The next month we replaced the garden furniture with a brand new teak lounge suite. I also personally built a dining room suite consisting of a round table and eight high-backed chairs. That is how we gradually filled up our home.
SLOTTING IN WITH A LOCAL CONGREGATION
I cannot remember the events that followed in exactly the correct sequence, but let me just recall them as they come to mind. The first was that we immediately started attending the nearest congregation of the church denomination of which I had been a member all my life and of which Martie had become a member when we got married and shortly afterwards we became members of it. What excited me was that the elder overseeing the area in which we were living, had a clear testimony of salvation. He was the very first Christian we got to know after I was saved and he visited us from time to time and was quite a blessing to us.
In the way that I had been brought up, a person was to find spiritual nourishment and fulfilment within the church he belonged to, so I immediately applied myself to do so. Martie and I never missed a morning service and I also attended all the evening services. When I noticed the church leaders standing in a little group, I would inch up to them, moving backwards, facing away so that they would not see me, getting as near as possible, pricking my ears to pick up what they were discussing, hoping that they would be discussing some or other spiritual topic. I was thirsty and hungry for God and I desperately tried to find other like-minded Christians from whom I could learn and with whom I could share the joy that was bubbling up within my heart. Sadly to say, that church fountain yielded just a very small trickle of Living Water. As I got to know most of the members personally, I was shocked and deeply disappointed to realise that no more than about 10% were real, born-again Christians.
MARTIE’S ENTRANCE INTO NEW LIFE
Martie was not as enthusiastic about the things of God as I was, so she skipped the evening services, excusing herself by saying that she would tune in to a Christian radio broadcast, but I normally found her asleep on the couch when I returned home from the church meeting. However, God’s Spirit was also working within her heart, turning her thoughts towards Him. The change in my life was very apparent and spoke to her in a powerful way. It caused her to try and find an answer as to why my lifestyle had suddenly changed so drastically. I never got drunk anymore and returned home promptly from work every day. She asked me many questions. I remember us lying in bed at night with the light already switched off. At that time I was still smoking and I would be puffing away on my pipe in the dark, at the same time answering her questions as well as I could. I can no longer recall exactly all the teaching I gave her, but it must have been at least a clear explanation as to the way of salvation.
As time went by, we would both, after supper in the evening, go into separate rooms to have a quiet time with God. During such times we would read our Bibles and engage in a time of prayer. One evening in June, as I emerged from my study and on my way to our bedroom, I met with her emerging from the adjoining spare bedroom. She stopped, looked up into my face and in her shy, reserved way, said: “I never lived a wayward life like you did, but tonight I realised that I too am a sinner in the eyes of God and I have just given my life to Him, as you have done with yours”. I was dumbfounded. I had never expected that she would take that step all on her own without being prompted and encouraged by me. As a matter of fact I had refrained from doing so, for fear of pushing her into doing something that would not come from her own heart, something that she would do just to please me and not because she personally desired it. My heart was flooded with joy but I kept a straight face so that she would keep her eyes on the Lord and not try to please me, the more so because I was very overbearing at that time and actually somewhat bullied her emotionally. Then also, I was very young in the Lord and had not yet learned how to put these treasures into words. Nevertheless, from then onwards our faith in the Lord Jesus was real, not just doctrine, but experience. Both of us had been solidly born again by the gracious, but powerful working of the Holy Spirit and nothing, but nothing, could change us back into what we had been before.
MARTIE’S ACCOUNT OF HER GETTING MARRIED AND SAVED
This is how Ben and I met each other. It happened at the beginning of February, 1962. I was employed as a typist in the Magistrate’s office at Piet Retief, in the Eastern Transvaal. On a certain day, the assistant Magistrate came to my office and introduced Ben to me and my colleague. I looked at Ben as they walked away from our office and I said to her: ‘That man is going to be my husband one day.’ She smirked and laughed at me, seeing it as a big joke!
At the beginning of April, only two months after we had met, Ben and I started dating. I was only 18 years of age but had made up my mind and our relationship grew steadily till September 1967 when we got engaged. Come January 1968, Ben got promoted and was transferred to the head office of the Department of Justice in Pretoria. We decided to get married before he would leave and so, on 27 January, 1968, we were married, after almost six years of dating.
We moved to Pretoria and took up residence in a very fine private hotel, namely the Selene. Since birth I had been staying with my parents, so, though happily married, it was very hard for me to be all alone during the day until late in the afternoon when Ben came home from work. I applied for and found employment in the Magistrate’s office at Pretoria. In December 1969 I fell pregnant and a few months later we bought our first brand new house in Lyttleton (Centurion), a suburb south of Pretoria. At the end of June 1970, I resigned, three months before the birth of our first son on the 18th of September 1970.
It was during the beginning of January 1970 that I sensed and observed that there was something strange going on within Ben. His behaviour had changed drastically; not in a bad way, it actually changed for the better. In the past he would phone me, telling me he would be home a little late, because they were having a party with some of their co-workers, and then he would arrive home late in the evening, usually quite intoxicated. This never happened any more. Then also, suddenly he did not want us to go to a dance or the movies at all. He also could not handle it when somebody was telling a dirty joke. On Sundays he wanted us to attend both the morning and evening church services. Every afternoon he was home early. This puzzled me but I did not ask any questions. I was just watching him. He was like a stranger to me, though there was nothing wrong with our relationship towards each other.
This continued for some four months. At last I could handle it no more, so I confronted him regarding his strange attitude of the past months. He then told me, that on a certain night, while we were still staying in the caravan on the smallholding, he gave his heart to the Lord, while I was sleeping. He explained to me how he had accepted the Lord Jesus as his Saviour, how God had saved and made him to be a new creature, as indeed he was.
I could not really understand this and especially could not see why I should be born again as I had always thought my life to be not all that bad. I had grown up in a home where, as I could recall, every Sunday morning when we as children woke up, I heard my parents singing Hallelujah songs! I never ever used the Name of the Lord in vain. I was the best student in my catechism class, etc. So, I was convinced that I was a good person. However, as I thought about what Ben had told me and as I kept on watching him, I realised that I did not have what he had. From then on the Lord was working in my heart and I could find no peace till June of that year. Then, one evening, while Ben was having his quiet time with the Lord in our study, I went into a spare bedroom, read the Word and there the Lord convinced me that my relationship with Him was not right and that, although I was a ‘good’ person, I was not saved, but lost. I had not yet accepted the Lord Jesus as my Saviour so I went on my knees at the bed and gave my life to Him. When I walked from the room into the passage, Ben was just passing and so I told him what had happened to me. Although I did not yet have everything clearly sorted out in my mind and understanding, I knew very well that something great had happened to me and I knew that I was a different person. From that time onwards I never turned back again, and I praise the Lord for His faithfulness. He has sustained me during all these years. I also thank God for Ben, for if it had not been for him I do not know where I would have been today. Praise the Name of the Lord! From then on we could serve the Lord together.
AS FOR ME AND MY HOUSE; WE WILL SERVE THE LORD!
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