It was a joy for Wendy and me to commence our fellowship in the Rosehill Assembly, our new spiritual home, on 3 July 2011.
Looking back on my more than 80 years, I realise so many mistakes and things I could have done better; things I made a mess of, errors of omission and commission. But one thing I did right was accepting the Lord Jesus as my Saviour!
I was born into a very poor family of 5 children. Dad, a product of the Second World War, shared his wages with my Mom, who worked all her life except for the 3 months after each child was born. We lived in Queenstown, in the backyard of the Salvation Army Manse. I was invited to attend Youth Meetings and Services, including Open Air Meetings, and got to hear the Gospel of Jesus and His love. I tried to play the bugle for those meetings- but without success!
At school I was always youngest in class, mostly by 2 or more years. Because of the age difference, and being embarrassed about my home, I had very few friends. So I read a lot. I believe I averaged a book a day from my birth date to the age of at least 21 years. But my life was empty!
By the time I left school our home situation had improved quite a bit – helped also by my contribution of board to my Mom.
It’s amazing what you can do if you really want something! So I set about planning to buy a motor bike, of course as a form of transport! First I had to get past my dad; I had to nag him till he broke! I said not a word while I planned and saved for a deposit. My first bike was a Matchless 500cc which I bought in East London. I learned to ride only after I collected it on the coast. My bikes were sources of great pleasure despite my many accidents – 9 of them, if I remember correctly. While I did not realise it at the time, the Lord certainly had His hand of protection upon me! I did many stupid things like sedately taking a Triumph Tiger 110 at 160kph plus through 10 intersections in the residential area in Queenstown, each of which had no stops on any of the four accesses at each intersection!
My bikes also allowed me to meet up with likeminded friends, through whom I got into the social life in town, and attended functions. At one of those I met Wendy and we started going out together. Later we became more serious, got engaged and married at a young age! Our family followed and we have been blessed with four children!
Life was tough financially, but I was soon to see evidence of God meeting practical needs after Wendy gave her heart to the Lord Jesus in 1964. Without stealing her testimony, soon after giving her heart to the Lord, Wendy, who also worked to help with our finances, prayed for a job which would allow her to be at home with her our children. This soon miraculously came about without request or input from either of us. She then prayed for us to get our own home when we had not a cent to invest! Within 6 months we moved into our own newly-built home!
I learned that God is not limited by our lacks if we bring Him into our plans and life!
In our new home we became friendly with a certain couple. Cecil, the husband, an Irishman, and I hit it off very well. He had started smoking at the age of 6, and, if I remember correctly, went out drinking with his father from the age of 12. We started a slot-car racing evening at our home, which we later developed into a specially-built, 4-lane, 30-metre Racing Track. After racing we would go off to a steak house for a 50-cent steak-and-eggs, and chat. Modesty forbids me telling you who the champ was!
Without my knowing it, during that time Cecil gave his heart to the Lord. Soon after, while dropping me off at home, he stopped outside and told me of his decision. He said, “I know where I will be after I die, but it makes me sad to think that you, my friend, will not be there with me!” This was the first time I felt really challenged with regard to my faith. It made me think seriously about life after death!
Not long afterwards I was offered a job in East London, which I realised afterwards, was just a stepping-stone to a move a year later to Durban, in 1973. While we were there we attended the Baptist Church and came under the anointed preaching of Rex Mathie, who warned of a Judgement to come upon those who rejected Jesus as Saviour.
In Durban we looked for a place to fellowship and were introduced to Mike Attlee, a man with a God-given Ministry, and began attending his Bible Studies. There I experienced a living Word, a Word which touched me and made me want to hear more. This was not the Social Gospel I was used to when I did attend services in other churches in Queenstown.
At one of these meetings with Mike Attlee, the challenge was made to us to consider the price Jesus had paid to enable us to be with Him in Heaven, to prevent us going to Hell. That price He paid because He loved me. This caused me to ask Him to come into my heart and to be my Lord and Saviour. That was in 1974.
We became members of Hillcrest Assembly, where we were in full fellowship in the same Church Body for some 38 years. During that time I learned a few important things:
- I did not have to make huge sacrifices to follow Jesus; I discovered that the things that gave me pleasure had changed.
- As a matter of interest, I was smoking a lot, and did not like it. I prayed and asked the Lord to take away my desire for smoking and to set me free from the craving. Wendy only found out that I was no longer smoking a few weeks later when someone, who came to dinner at our home, asked me if I smoked, and I said, No!
- I found friendships that were truer, deeper and more sincere than those I had previously experienced outside of the Church. This difference was evidenced so clearly in my previous un-saved experience with some worldly friends. At an insolvent auction sale I bought a case of Buchu Brandy for 50 cents. I was able to swap that Brandy on a bottle-for-bottle exchange basis, for bottles of gin, brandy, vodka, whiskey, rum, liqueurs and other alcoholic products. I was fully stocked with a wide selection of drinks! Although I drank very little, we found that some friends began popping in, in the evenings, on a social basis. We felt quite popular – until the bubble burst when the alcohol ran out, and our popularity, social rating, and friends all disappeared overnight!
- I discovered that God was real and worked in incredible ways to meet our needs. He was busy mending broken families, healing sicknesses, delivering people from craving drugs and alcohol and getting children reunited to their families!
- I have seen answers to prayers in incredible ways!
- I have seen lives changed from hopelessness to joy!
- I experienced God changing me to a more compassionate, caring, and even loving, person.
God put love into my heart for the members of the Hillcrest Church Body, where I had become an Elder, and for the members of the Body at Edenvale where we often attend while visiting our children, and for the many believers we have come to meet and know.
Over the recent past I have again experienced God’s wonderful intervention in my life. After being diagnosed with a malignant tumour in my stomach, I had the tumour, together with half of my stomach removed in April 2011. Unfortunately, I suffered from reflux whenever I lay down to sleep, so I had to sleep sitting up. I also had reflux when I burped or even hiccupped, with my throat burning like fire.Then I suffered coughing bouts at night, often coughing violently for continuing periods of 20 minutes without stop, over up to 6 hours each night.
Alan, my son, had an appointment with a Professor of Gastrology, Prof Heine van der Walt, and mentioned my predicament. The professor said there was no need for me to live like this. He personally made an appointment for me to see him within 2 weeks. The normal waiting time for an appointment with Professor van der Walt is 5 months!
When he saw me, he immediately admitted me to the Unitas Hospital in Pretoria, put drains down my throat to flush out debris and to clear my stomach, and then performed an urgent operation on 9th May 2011, in which the further half of my remaining stomach was removed in something termed a Roux-en-Y procedure. After the operation, Professor van der Walt told my wife that he could not understand how I had not died before I came to him. My part-stomach had expanded to the size of a football, while the exit hole from my stomach was only the size of a pin head. It was on the verge of bursting!
The point is, had Alan not had an appointment at that time, and had he not said anything to the Professor, and had the Professor not personally made an early appointment for me, if I had not gone to Johannesburg immediately, if I had rather gone on a planned flight to Stellenbosch … I would have been dead now! Only God could have arranged this programme of imponderables!
Now I have zero reflux, I sleep in any position I wish, and I eat anything I like (apart from white bread)! My only requirement is to eat small meals 6 times a day!
I have no doubt that I owe my life, here and in Heaven, to God and His Grace.
Looking back, I wish I had been a better husband and a better father over the years. But God is gracious; He has covered the effects of my shortcomings, even as Jesus has covered my sins with His Blood! Wendy and I are still married after over 60 years; our four children and their spouses all serve the Lord, and are active in the Edenvale and Hillcrest Assemblies!
My greatest regret is that I did not accept Jesus as my Lord and Saviour and serve Him from a much younger age! He said, “I will give you life, and that more abundantly!” I can testify to that! I have more fun in Christian company, more joy, more laughter, than ever I had with friends before I came to know Jesus.
To anyone who has not come to know Jesus as Lord of their life, I say you are missing out big time. God loves you and wants you to be his Child, to bless you and give you Eternal Life with Him.
We moved to Umhlanga from Kloof in 2006, and under leadership guidance, commuted to Kloof 4 times plus per week until the Lord, again under oversight guidance in 2011, led us to make the move to fellowship at the Rosehill Assembly. Both Wendy and I have greatly enjoyed God’s continued blessing in this part of His Vineyard, submitting ourselves to His guidance and direction!