OUR STORY – Chapter A9

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My heart now was ablaze with fervour for the Lord Jesus Christ and for those that were in darkness, those that had never met the Saviour. We never had any courses on winning souls in those days, so it was just a matter of learning from the Word what God wanted us to do and then do it. I managed to get a variety of tracts and set about using them. At that stage, it was common for all of us to travel to work by train and I boarded at the station within our suburb and travelled to Pretoria. It was just a short ride, but every morning I would hand out a couple of tracts, walking up and down the aisles of the train coaches. Some people were quite interested and immediately started reading them, but there was the odd one who took offence. I will not forget the day when a man turned red with anger and threw down the tract on the floor. I forgot what he really said to me but what I do remember is that the people all around him found it very amusing and laughed at him. So by God’s grace I got away without being embarrassed.

The head office of the Department of Justice where I was working was in the very heart of Pretoria and our lunch break lasted for an hour. So what I did was just bolt down my sandwiches and a cup of coffee and then take a bunch of tracts out to the streets. This was not an easy thing to do because I was a magistrate and many of my colleagues were of course also moving around the streets in that area during lunch time. On seeing me handing out tracts, they were embarrassed and just looked the other way, but to me this was very serious business. I simply thought that if the Lord Jesus Christ could go all over preaching the Gospel, often being ridiculed or being at the receiving end of the cutting words of the Pharisees and Scribes, then who was I to shun such reaction? Who was I to be ashamed of my Lord and of His message?

Once the ice had been broken, I got bolder and bolder and all fear of this type of outreach just faded away. I remember one Easter weekend when I went to the Pretoria Station where hundreds or even thousands of people were boarding the different trains. This was a wonderful opportunity to hand out tracts to them and I set about doing this. Some frowned, others smiled, but my heart still breaks as I recall the sad face of a certain man. He was with his family but stopped when I gave him the tract, turned back to me and said: “You know what, there was a time when my heart was on fire for the Lord just as yours is at the moment. At that time I too went around distributing tracts but I am sad to say that I have backslidden and that I am no longer really following the Lord.” He folded up the tract and followed the rest of his family.

I sat down on a bench with tears in my eyes, praying to the Lord, saying: “Oh dear Lord, please keep me from backsliding, please never forsake me. You can chastise me, You can do to me whatever you want to, but please, if ever I should grow cold and turn away from You, keep on pursuing me and bring me back on track, even though it be by the scruff of my neck.” Well, God is gracious and today, after some 43 years and at the age of 73, I still cannot resist the “temptation” not only to “chase after” the wayward ones, but also to assist God’s children in whatever way I can to overcome their heartaches, fears, temptations, lack of faith, lack of understanding or whatever, in order that they may come to know the length and depth and height of the Saviour’s love.

During that time I met up with a deacon, or shall I say, I got to know him in a deeper way. He too loved the Lord dearly and came from a family that loved God. His story was that they had lived somewhere in a small town out in the country, where his father also died. His mother continued to bring them up in the fear of the Lord. The congregation to which they belonged, however, did not show much sign of the presence of God and the working of the Holy Spirit. So one day his mom went to the pastor and said to him: “Reverend, I have been attending this church for many, many years now and through all of these I have never seen a single soul being converted by your message. For that reason I am now moving to Pretoria in the hope of finding a church where my children may receive proper teaching and instruction in the Word and ways of God.”

This was a very bold thing for a widow to do but God honoured her and undertook for this family financially so that she was able to raise all her children and, as far as I can remember, they all turned into God-fearing men and women. Besides all the lukewarm Christians in this world, there are the radical ones, the ones that are willing to sacrifice for His Name’s sake, because they love Him dearly.

I met up with one of her sons and we became good friends. Having had so much more experience in the ways and work of God, he was able to open up channels for many other Christians to get involved in the making of disciples in some way or another. One of the things which he did, was to start a prayer meeting at his home and he invited me to attend. We gathered very early in the morning, something like 6am so that we could get back home, snatch a bite of breakfast and get to work on time. These prayer meetings were mightily blessed by God and we saw people coming there that we never thought would do so. One day a certain lady attended the meeting and requested that we pray for her for she was terminally ill with cancer. The doctors had no further hope for her. We laid hands on her and prayed and soon afterwards received the good news that she was healed and that her life had been restored to her by God. This was of course a mighty encouragement to me to continue in serving the Lord by reaching out to those in need.

This Christian friend of mine then had a vision that we should open a Sunday School at a nearby institution for Coloured children. It was called the “Naughty School” because of the fact that the children placed there, all had criminal records and it was in fact a correctional institution for children up to the age of about 18 years. Nobody else was interested in the spiritual welfare of these children and as for us, we were poorly equipped to reach out to them. We had no Sunday School materials at that stage, no experience, nor any training to minister to children who actually were in a state of rebellion towards society and of course also towards God. Another problem was to find born-again people that would be willing to be co-workers with us. In the end all we could find was a number of school children in our congregation who had somehow or other been touched by the Spirit of God, become converted and had a real desire to work for Him.

With them we got together once a week, prepared class material during that time, prepared songs and then we would all gather together on a Sunday morning and go out to the school to share the Gospel. Some of us, especially the adults who had motor cars, would also take a number of children for Sunday afternoon outing, by just driving around with them, buying them ice cream or something like that, to show goodwill, to show love and in the end just because we really loved them. So what happened was that an openness was created within their hearts towards us. It took some time, but they began to accept us. We gained their confidence, but we did not, during that period, see any of them come to the Lord.

So what we then did was to hire two buses to take all of them for a week’s holiday to the Kruger National Park where they had never been before. We also enlisted the help of a very experienced African evangelist to go with them. He really knew how to work with children, especially teenagers, and he gladly accepted the invitation and accompanied them in the bus.

What happened during that time was absolutely amazing. These children came back renewed in heart. Of course not all of them were saved, but many were really soundly born-again by the Holy Spirit. What blessed us so much, were the testimonies that came from their school teachers after that experience. They testified of a completely changed atmosphere in their classes. For the first time they could now present their classes in an orderly way without continual interruptions. If any of the youngsters misbehaved, those of his classmates that had come to know the Lord Jesus would say do the teacher: “Sir, could we just stop for a moment please, so that we can pray for him.” The class would then be stopped and they would group around this boy or girl that was misbehaving and pray for him or her. In this way, the child would calm down to such an extent that the class could now proceed and so things just improved immensely in that school.

In that way God also taught me a lesson and I saw that although I may not always be the one used by God to lead somebody to Christ, I may in a different way, become an instrument in His hand. We as adult Christians having some funds available and some influence were able to arrange for this tour; that was our part of the deal. The evangelist did not have these means at his disposal nor did he have the time to arrange something like this but on the other hand he had the ability to present the Gospel in such a way that these rebellious children could see the love of God and be drawn to the Father. Together we did it. Furthermore: it is those that stick out their necks to do something for God, that have the joy of seeing His mighty hand moving.

In the course of this Sunday school work we often had to find and train new teachers. This was not all that easy for there was so much racial friction and Whites like myself, White Christians, found it embarrassing to cross the line and minister to other racial groups. I remember how we once prayed that God would give us another teacher. It was during the morning prayer meeting previously mentioned about that we especially prayed that God would point us to somebody. That afternoon as I was returning home by train, I had my pocket Bible with me, took it out and started reading a portion. I knew that many eyes were on me as I did so, but I no longer cared what people thought of me. I was using my travelling time in a fruitful way. After a couple of minutes I looked up and, low and behold, across the aisle was another person, a young man, who also had his little new Testament open and was reading from it. In my heart I felt the Lord speaking to me saying: “That is your man; that this is the person for whom you prayed this morning to be added to your group of teachers.”

I immediately put my Bible away, got up, knelt next to him, introduced myself and said: “I see you are reading your New Testament. Do you know the Lord Jesus and do you love Him?” Without any hesitation he replied, saying: “Yes, yes I do,” and I said to him: “You know what, we are holding Sunday School classes for Coloured children in the ‘Naughty School,’ would you not perhaps be interested to join as in this venture?” “Yes”, he replied. “Yes I would love to do so.” And that is how we gained another Sunday School teacher.

This young man later on told me that as he sat in the train, he had the desire to read from his New Testament but was too shy or ashamed to do so openly. As he looked up, he saw me reading my Bible. Ashamed of his own pride, he took his New Testament from his pocket and started reading it, which opened the way for me to approach him on the issue of assisting us. Oh, may the Lord help us to be obedient to the Holy Spirit the very moment He prompts us to do this or that or to refrain from doing one thing or another. We so often miss wonderful miracles or wonderful blessings, because we do not respond to the supernatural working of God’s Spirit. If we want to experience God in a supernatural way, we must be willing to crawl way out on a branch. We must be willing to take risks, even to be embarrassed, for it is in doing so that we will see the Supernatural at work.



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