D5. VARIOUS MINISTRIES AND OCCUPATIONS
MINISTRY WITHIN HCC (EAST). CARINA FASHIONS AND THE COLLEGE
Now let me return to the spiritual ministry side of our lives. Because of the distance to our Church we could only attend the Sunday morning meetings. We hungered for more than that and so we and a couple who had joined the Church before us, decided to borrow video tapes recorded during the previous Sunday’s evening meeting and play them the next Sunday evening. We gathered at home for this purpose and very soon other couples joined in.
We then decided to change the structure of our gatherings and sang praise and worship songs led by Martie on her guitar with other vocals assisting her, before screening the video. As the meeting picked up, we rented a large room, adjoining a café, but also having access to a small walled courtyard. Another member, Carel Berndt, a very gifted musician and a very spiritual man, then took over from Martie and led the worship team. I still recall his frustration when we were in deep reverence before God and the extremely noisy air conditioner of the café would suddenly kick in. The roof of the building also leaked badly and many of us had our Bibles soiled during heavy thunderstorms. Every Sunday evening we had to transport an old TV set and the recorder to the venue and back home again to be able to watch the video.
The next step we took, was to acquire the use of the town hall which posed quite a challenge because of the rental we had to pay. This move was definitely in accordance with the will of God for the moment we moved into the town hall, visitors from the adjoining flats and homes became curious and flocked to our meetings. At that stage, a pastor from the main congregation, pastor Francois van Niekerk, was assigned to oversee the Pretoria suburbs north of the Magaliesberg mountain range and so we could discontinue the screening of the videos, for we now had a pastor ministering to us on Sunday evenings. He was an anointed servant of God and a forceful preacher and under his ministry our meetings blossomed.
He also set up cell groups over which he appointed leaders. From then on we received all kinds of training and instruction and many of us became quite efficient in leading small groups of people. We also had prayer meetings on Saturday mornings where we sensed the sweet presence of God. What also blessed us mightily, were the family camps held at holiday resorts at regular intervals. At these healthy entertainment and sport were mixed with deep, heart searching and faith building teaching, resulting in the enrichment of every member who attended. We also had marriage seminars, workshops on the use of spiritual gifts and many more. From an early date, Martie and I were appointed as cell leaders, then as shepherds to oversee a number of cells.
We were now able to minister within our church and were delighted to do so. The ministry of a cell leader could somehow be compared to that of a leader of a home church as found in the early New Testament Church. Meetings were held one evening per week but every member had to be cared for in depth by continual house visitation and counselling. Sometimes cell groups would even go on weekend camps. However, on Sundays everybody gathered at the church for what we called the celebration meeting. Cells consisted of up to 15 members and were supposed to grow and multiply every few months. A cell leader couple that were doing their work properly, were busy people. They would also follow up on new converts that had accepted the Lord during Sunday services, organize outreaches to hospitals, homes for senior citizens, etc.
As the cell groups and shepherds multiplied, Overseeing Shepherds were appointed. An overseeing shepherd had up to five such cells under his care and had to train the cell leaders and assistant cell leaders, counsel and encourage them. (Much later, when we were appointed as Overseeing Shepherds we had some 15 cells totalling upwards of 150 members under our care – keeps you busy when you take your calling seriously.) This work was unlike the purely evangelistic work we had been doing previously in holding campaigns and doing radio and cassette work. This work was more pastoral in nature and we gained valuable experience.
Unfortunately, on this side of the grave, one has to eat, dress, etc. and we were continually under financial pressure for our two sons had grown and where already attending secondary school. They needed more and more every day and we did not want them to lack for anything because of the fact that their parents were in full-time service of the Lord. This, of course, kept us on our knees in supplication to the Lord to provide more abundantly.
We had always believed that a mother’s place was in the home to tend to the upbringing of the children, especially when they were of a young age, and so we were very hesitant for Martie to take up employment that would keep her away from home in the afternoons when the children returned home. During this period we were, however, led to accept an offer by a relative of ours. She had a profitable business as a designer and dressmaker and wanted Martie to do her bookkeeping. She would only be working from 8am to 1pm, leaving her free to attend to the children the rest of the day. This lady was a Christian and she and Martie got on very well, so Martie worked there until the lady closed down the business to attend to her own family.
One day, unexpectedly, a vice-rector of a college of education, who knew us and was familiar with our work, made me an offer of the post of registrar at his college. I was very, very hesitant to accept this for I was so deeply conscious of my calling as a full-time minister of the Word of God, that I saw this as a temptation to betray the Lord and flee from my responsibility. But what could I do? I had a family to support, and so, after much prayer and heart searching, and because God did not provide any other way out, I accepted the offer.
To do this job, was not plain sailing, for the post had been vacant for a couple of months and I had to lay new foundations on which to build. I had no one to teach me what to do or any guidelines as to prevailing policy. Furthermore, I was totally “out of shape” as far as secular work was concerned for I had been engaged in spiritual work for the previous fifteen years. During the first board meeting, I addressed the members as “brothers and sisters.” After awhile I settled down and managed to get the admin side of the college running smoothly.
I however, never enjoyed my work, for the covering department, was very poorly managed and there were all sorts of questionable practices, both in the Department and in the College. The College was also in perpetual uncertainty as to its mission within the field of education. This was detrimental to the morale of the teaching staff. To cap it all, our rector was caught embezzling money donated to the College and his successor was altogether incapable of running such an institution. I often clashed with him on issues of integrity and was much relieved when he was eventually discharged from the Department; but that only happened during the last stage of my association with the College.
In 1994, soon after our country had its first open for all elections and the ANC came to power, it was decided that our college was to be combined with another similar college. Some of the staff were given the option of early retirement which many, including I, accepted and was grateful to be released.
Some good that came from my six years of association with the College was, first of all, that Martie and I managed to recover financially and buy a house, which we later on sold to buy a smallholding where we built a lovely double-storied house.
Secondly, with the assistance of a professional computer programmer, I managed to acquire some skills in programming enabling me to write all the programs required by the College for the proper functioning of its work. These computer skills have stood me in good stead ever since.
PRAISE BE TO HIS NAME!
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