F4. THE PHILIPPOLIS MINISTRY ADDED
THE WAY AHEAD
We are now into April 2014.
Rivoni Ministries is still prospering. In February we had a very blessed Executive Committee meeting as well as our annual General Assembly Meeting in Pretoria. Our members are more strongly motivated than ever before and are coming forward with all sorts of innovative ideas to further the work and even to get more involved on a part-time basis.
The Mission’s work in Mozambique is also doing well. Towards the end of last year, a record number of 724 students enlisted. Martie and I are still directing the work from our base at Philippolis and Baloi is blossoming as Field Director out there at Chinhacanine. That weekend he went to Mabalane with the Nissan diesel pickup we recently bought him. He went there to deliver building materials for a cooking shelter and ablution facilities for Nelson’s house.
At Philippolis we are also keeping our stride. The spiritual climate here definitely is not the same as in Mozambique; the going is much harder and one has to press forward determinedly. Thus far we have not been able to gather in armfuls of sheaves as in Mozambique, but have collected them one by one as when picking roses. Those that joined during the first-year course are still with us, now doing their second-year course on the Gospels and the Book of Acts. On Sundays they attend the meetings of their own churches, but our classes have become their main source of spiritual nourishment, therefore they turn up every Thursday evening to be instructed in the Word and trained to walk with God. The Lord has also recently added another two young people. We did not go out and invite them; they just turned up and keep coming. Even young hearts hunger after God. Since we feel that our calling is primarily to the Coloured and African people, we have focused our ministry on them and this class consists mainly of people belonging to those two groups.
At the beginning of last month two English speaking White couples came to see me, requesting that we get together for Sunday morning meetings, for they do not feel quite at home in the local Afrikaans congregation. Since we already have so much work to do, I was reluctant to concede to the request, but in the end felt that I just could not turn a cold shoulder to them and agreed to commence with meetings this coming Sunday. We trust that the Lord will lead us and reveal His plans for the future in regard to this new venture.
When we came to Philippolis, the Lord gave me a promise from Ps 84:6 which reads as follows:
“Blessed are those whose strength is in You, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage. As they pass through the Valley of Baca, they make it a place of springs; the autumn rains also cover it with pools.”(NIV) Some translations translate “Valley of Baca” as “dry valley.”
We have been standing firmly on this promise during all this time and have seen some fountains springing forth, some hearts yielded to Christ, but we are trusting the Lord for a much greater display of his power and grace.
Martie and I sometimes ask ourselves whether the time has not come for us to retire from a life of being so actively involved in Kingdom work for we have reached the ages of 70 and 73 respectively, but I just cannot see us doing so in the near future.
Firstly, the Lord has blessed us with good health. Martie walks 5km daily (except Sundays) at a pace not many ladies of her age would keep up with her. I cycle some 40 to 60 kilometres every second or third day. On 9 March I participated in the Cape Argus Cycle race around the Cape Peninsula. I had done that race 20 years ago at the age of 53 and completed it in 3:45. This time I completed it in 4:41. There were 31046 participants and my overall position was 15808, which means that the Lord enabled me to beat 15238 to the finish line (that is 49,1%).
Speaking of the finish line: what a thrill when, coming around the last bend, one sees the word “FINISH” boldly displayed across the road! Wow! The exceptionally strong wind, the endless Smitswinkel and Chapman’s Peak uphill climbs, the short but steep Suikerbossie, all of these have been overcome and one passes through the arch in victory. As I was still rejoicing, the Holy Spirit spoke within my heart, saying: “Now can you imagine the joy that will flood your heart when, having run the race of faith to the end, you enter in through the Gates of Heaven?”
Health is a most wonderful gift from God; a precious, precious gift and the Lord wants us to use His Gifts for His glory, therefore I think it is only fair towards Him that we invest a major portion of our good health in the promotion of His Kingdom instead of only amusing our grandchildren while waiting for our coffins to be delivered.
Then again, to part with the preaching of the Word is like giving up something you really enjoy. Although I am at times a bit tense, to me, preaching and teaching the Gospel is an addiction like that caused by alcohol. Before I found the Lord, I enjoyed sitting with my buddies at a pub’s counter, savouring our drinks and when the time came to clear out, we would always find a good reason to down just one more tot: “One for my blind brother; One for the road; One for the swing of the door.”
Experiencing the Holy Spirit working in power as on the day of Pentecost, often has that same effect on the preacher: it brings such an exhilaration in your spirit to see sinners captured and mellowed by God’s power that you never get enough of it. There always is the urge to see that happen over and over again. His works are so much greater than the puny efforts of man that you continually wish to place yourself in His mighty hand like the loaves and fishes and see Him doing a spiritual miracle greater than what you would ever be capable of.
One night in Mozambique after I had brought my testimony of salvation to a small group of people sitting around a campfire, my co-worker took over, making an altar call to those present to accept the Lord Jesus as Saviour. A couple of them did so and as I was looking on, I perceived the Holy Spirit coming down from heaven and entering into two of them. I cannot describe His appearance for I was seeing Him in the spirit but knew for certain that that was Him. I was so humbled that it seemed to me as if I was just melting into the soil on which I was standing. This does not happen every time one preaches, for God gives such a revelation only when it pleases Him and yet every time when somebody really turns to God the children of God who are in the Spirit and are looking on, experience this supernatural joy and once you have tasted it you want to experience it again and again and again.
It also is like the experience of a little boy walking past a table on which there is a platter heaped up with delicious cookies. The temptation to have one might be just too great to withstand. Having looked around to see whether anyone is watching, he would grab two or three, thrust them into his pockets and rush outside to find a quiet spot to munch his trophies.
Sometimes when engaged in the work of God, one can get very, very tired and be sorely tempted to give up and let others do the job, but when an opportunity arises to grab one or two more souls for Jesus, it is just impossible to walk by and leave them untouched. You will always find a reason for preaching the Word just one more time, to win just one more soul. And so it just goes on and on. Preaching and teaching the Word of God is an addiction and a temptation. Blessed be the name of the Lord.
To a person who has been preaching the Word of God for some time, it becomes like flying a kite. For a kite to keep flying way up yonder in the sky, you need two things: firstly a strong wind and secondly a fishing line or something similar with somebody holding onto the line. The moment the string is cut, the kite will shoot up higher for a couple of metres and then fall, out of control, straight down to the ground. For a preacher to continue flying high in the Spirit, he must remain connected to his calling to proclaim the Gospel down here below. Once he voluntarily lets go of that, he will flounder, lose his special anointing and become mediocre in his experiencing of the life of God. Meditating on God’s Word with the purpose of sharing it with others, the deep intercession for souls worked by the Holy Spirit and the complete surrender to the speaking forth of the words of God, together make up the string that anchors the preacher to his calling and keeps him flying in the Spirit.
Then there is also the supernatural vision of the Kingdom of God. Above all else, I believe this is what has kept me going when the going got really tough. I always had this sense of the immensity of the Kingdom of God which He is in the process of building. To describe it in words is just impossible for it is a spiritual awareness of that great Kingdom which cannot be seen by human eyes. Whenever I got discouraged or just lacked in motivation to give myself for His cause, the Holy Spirit would clear my inner eyes and I would see this glorious Kingdom stretching further than what man can see or measure, a Kingdom encompassing the furthest galaxies of stars. My spirit would then be revived and I would say: “Wow, this is enormous, this is worthwhile working for; let me give it another go; let me lay another couple of bricks into the eternal wall of Jerusalem; capture just a few more souls, a few more citizens for that glorious Kingdom which has firm foundations and will never come to an end.”
Oh dear Lord, please keep this vision vivid within my spirit until the day I cross the border and see the reality of that which I have only perceived dimly down here below.
To become a bricklayer, to participate in the building of the walls of the New Jerusalem, is a privilege offered by God to whosoever presents himself to the Master Builder, saying: “Lord, here am I, use me.” Having read this narrative up to this point, it must be clear to you that Martie and I are two very ordinary people. You would have seen how many, many mistakes we made, how we often moved in the wrong direction, how we rebelled against those placed in charge over us, how we messed up again and again and yet, the Master Builder did not reject us.
He was great enough to override all our shortcomings. What He saw was the measure of willingness and faith to be used by Him, the desire burning within our hearts to build some golden bricks into that eternal wall. At a time when I totally despaired, when I was deeply convinced that I had utterly failed in everything I had tried to do throughout all my life, He, He the Lord Jesus Christ, stood by me, saw my tears, picked me up, equipped me as a builder on which there is a platter, put the tools into my hand, gave me a wife who had the heart of Jesus and sent us to accomplish something which we could, at the end of our lives, behold and with deep humility see to be a work of God.
I am not saying that the name of Rivoni Ministries will survive or that the structures will remain forever: they may fade away but the work done in the hearts of people will stand forever. God has erected temples for himself where His Holy Spirit can dwell out there in Mozambique and also at Philippolis, and this gives Martie and me a deep gratitude.
Should you ever meet us personally, you will see the truth of what I am now saying. You will see that we are just simple people; not clever, not endowed with brilliant personalities, not having the faith of Abraham or of Paul, but just two vessels made from the clay of the earth; vessels that have been blessed and given the privilege of carrying the Message of Hope for a while; vessels that will be superseded by other greater men and women of God; vessels that will, after they have passed into eternity, soon be forgotten but that will stand before that glorious Throne carrying a number of sheaves harvested for the Master during the time of their pilgrimage on earth.
Therefore dear brother and sister may I implore you to stand still for a couple of moments and contemplate the Great Commission of your Heavenly Master which He gave to His disciples as well as to you, before departing for heaven: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you. And behold I am with you for ever more.” (Matt 28:19&20) He has spoken to you; now it is your turn to answer Him. Won’t you do so: either in the words of Isaiah: “Here am I, send me,” or in the words of Paul: “Lord what will You have me do?”
Have you done so? From this very moment God will set powers in motion to lead you forth into His field of service. In the beginning it may be something very small, like just testifying to a friend about what Jesus means to you, but as you continue day by day, new exciting fields will open up to you and you will discover that you are being used way above your natural ability.
It may well be that someone who is reading this book has come to discover that he or she has never met with God. Like the jailer at Philippi you may now be on your knees asking: “Lord what must I do to be saved?” Dear friend it is so very, very simple: all you need to do is to acknowledge that you are a lost sinner in need of the Heavenly Saviour of souls. Do you believe this? Do you believe that Jesus is the Son of God that came to earth and died on the cross to pay the full price for your sin? Do you believe that He rose from the grave, ascended to heaven and is ready to return to this world for his Bride? If this be so, seal the deal by praying to Him in the following words: “Dear Lord, I have sinned, I am lost. Lord Jesus I do believe that you paid the price for my sins on the cross. Please forgive me and accept me as your child. Holy Spirit come into my life and change me to become like You. Thank you Lord for what you have now done for me. Amen.”
If you have prayed this prayer in faith, your sins have been forgiven and your heart has been made anew by the Holy Spirit. Now go forth and serve your Lord with all that is within you and the joy of the Lord will put a twinkle in your eye, a spring in your step and add colour to your days!
BLESS THE LORD, OH MY SOUL!
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