Sharing one’s story can be a powerful tool for encouragement and challenge. My story, is not so much my own story, but one that is intimatly linked with God’s mission and I want to share with you, briefly, how God can use your life and shape you into the person He desires. I trust that my story will reflect glory back to God, and that as you read this you will have time to reflect on your own journey with God and be challenged to embrace God’s hand at work.
I grew up in a conservative South African Baptist Church where Scripture was highly valued and expository preaching was always seen as a strong point. I fondly remember time spent as a child memorising Scripture. Sadly, my motivation was wrong; I was trying to be the top of my class and win the prize at the end of the year for having memorised the most Scripture verses. I often won these prizes as my competitive spirit motivated me. However, despite my motivation, these verses have often rung through my mind over the years, and I have found that having studied God‘s Word, it has been a light to my path.
My life up to that point had been simple, and so too was my conversion to the Christian faith; it was not spectacular in any way. I committed my life to Christ at a young age and found myself drifting away from the Lord due to life circumstances and choices I had made (and not all of them were good). The path I chose was one of bitterness and hatred spiced with anger and later, regret. Let me share some of my story with you. I am an illegitimate child and I was brought up by my mother. I had to learn that God does not make mistakes and that I was on this planet for a purpose. My family has always been in conflict ever since I can remember, and I found myself drifting further away from my circumstances and my faith into a pseudo-reality, where I drew strength and gained reprieve from my life situation.
My childhood was humble to say the least, and left me feeling estranged from my family, from peers and from God who I blamed for His passivism. Looking back now I can say that I never really had many true friends, my pseudo- reality prevented anyone from getting too close and exposing the reality of my life. God intervened in my circumstances through the preaching of one of South Africa‘s true prophets; Angus Buchan. I clearly remember being in high school and attending a Christian crusade meeting being held at my local Church, where God brought me back into the fold and where I was baptized and forever changed.
What had changed? My family was still in conflict, my circumstances were unaltered. But, what made the difference can be described as a ‘God- consciousness’ that had invaded my life like never before. For the first time in my life I felt the urgency to forgive, mend, restore and move forward. God became the centre of my being, my motivation changed from self-centeredness to constantly looking out for the interests of others. My conversion to faith had become a relationship with my eternal father; I had become a follower of Christ, and had resolved in my early years to dedicate my life to serving my heavenly Father‘s purposes. So the journey began.
One of the first things I did, besides involvement within my Church, was get involved in weekly outreach. I will never forget the lessons I learnt through serving others- especially those who were not as fortunate as I was. Johnny Buchner, a former South African Springbok Rugby player, and I went to the Ruimsig Squatter camp every week where we met with fellow believers and conducted a Bible study in a local shabeen (tavern/ bar). I learnt more from my interaction with the members of this community than any sermon or Bible study, not that they are unimportant, but for the first time I began to realize God‘s design for my life and my life purpose. Ever since those early days I have always embraced every opportunity for service in missions, and went on several trips to places like Dikwepi near Polokwane and other places in the surrounding areas where God shaped my understanding of what it means to be His people, what it means to be Church. When I was a youth pastor at Florida Baptist Church I led several mission trips to the Transkei, and always encouraged people to serve God through missions. I also represented the Baptist Union Missions Department as the first short- term missionary to North Africa. My Church was mission- minded, I was mission- minded. Since then I have discovered that mission-mindedness is not nearly enough!
I have changed a lot since those days, and I thank God for every opportunity He has afforded me to this day. I have been privileged enough to work in my home Church where I grew up in the faith. Also, to work under a passionate and effective evangelist who taught me the value of a vital and dynamic relationship with the Lord. This has significantly shaped my understanding of Christian ministry. I have had the honour of working alongside a seminary president who has shaped my understanding of the Christian faith and who has taken tremendous risks in giving me opportunities to serve and grow in Church life and the academic world. I thank God for the myriad people He has brought along my path that have impacted my life in greater ways than they perhaps would ever realize. God has been faithful to His Word, and has begun a work in my life that He alone can bring to completion. I thank God most of all for the wife He has brought into my life and for the love and support she continuously gives, and also for the many sacrifices willingly made along the way in fulfilling what God has in store for us. God has blessed us with three beautiful daughters that fills our lives with great joy, and contribute toward church growth too :).
I trust that the content here will be of great benefit to many in their journey with the Lord, serving God’s mission.