I greet you all in the Name of Jesus Christ and pray that you will be blessed by this small part of my life which bears testimony to a true and real Living God.
After an introduction like that, you might think and have the idea that I am one of those who present themselves as ‘perfect’ Christians, who live a Holy righteous life, and have a reserved seat on a one-way ticket to Heaven.
I am a normal working person, who makes many wrong decisions, have the same desires, feelings, frustrations and emotions as you; I do not know my Bible inside out cannot reference hundreds of verses, and I find it especially difficult to love our ‘unseen’ Living God. Why doesn’t he sit on a big visible throne for all to see it would make things so much easier for us wouldn’t it! I trust this sounds familiar to you.
On the other hand, I have had a Christian upbringing, and within my heart have always believed in our Lord Jesus Christ. The many worldly difficulties and trying times of life have ironically had the effect of strengthening my deeper relationship with the Lord.
This story goes back a few years where I was in a knowingly wrongful relationship, – family relationships were poor, we had recently lost both our son and mother, but business was good and I was able to financially compensate for this imbalance, or so I thought. I would ask God for direction and guidance in between my hurried schedule, or whenever I could fit Him in.
Why Lord are you not talking to me? Why are you ignoring me? Can’t you see I need your assistance and direction here?’
From about September of that year, I had a desire and an idea in my head to take photos of the coloured folk of the northern part of our country South Africa. They are tanned and wrinkled, usually with no teeth, and generally have faces full of character. Although this was just an idea at the time, I regularly saw a picture of one of these folks in my head. (At the time I thought nothing of it, but in reflecting back, it is all revealed to you).
As December drew closer, the urge to go to the Northern Cape / Namibia grew inside of me. If people asked ‘where are you going’? My reply was ‘towards Namibia’. I honestly did not know why, and anyway, I was going ‘walk-about’, so it didn’t really matter, I had no fixed plans.
I drove towards Northern Cape over a 5-day period, (about 1200km), taking my time to stop off and spend time alone. Most of my trip was on gravel backroads, and out of the way places. I played Christian music and every now and then, some good old heavy rock like ‘Uriah Heep’ or ‘Dire Straits’ just to break the mono-sound. As I travelled, I would talk to God more and more – sometimes aloud and sometimes in my head.
Just to put you in the picture the Northern Cape / Karoo (South Africa) is a very desolate semi-desert area, where you can travel for a hundred plus kilometres without seeing another vehicle or person. It is dry and hot (especially in December) with temperatures in the 40’s (celcius!).
I eventually arrived in a place called Upington, which is just south of Namibia and found a camp site, sleeping in the car that night. As there is not much to do in Upington, by early afternoon the next day I had relaxed, taken a boat ride on the Orange river, had a lunch at the local pub, and then decided to move on towards Namibia, and possibly sleep at the border post.
As I drove north out of Upington, I felt very uncomfortable, and an uneasy feeling came over me. I stopped of to full up with fuel, and tried to shake of this heavy feeling. As I continued the heavy feeling in my heart grew unbearable and I pulled over to the side. Words my sister had told me came back to me ‘if in doubt don’t’.
‘Lord’, I said out aloud, ‘I don’t know what is going on here, but I’m turning back’
As I did a U-turn back towards Upington, it was quite amazing how this heavy burden just lifted and disappeared. The closer I got back to Upington, the more and more at peace I felt. A total calm and ‘spirit of expectation’ came over me.
It was getting dark as I entered Upington, a billboard giving the telephone no. for a backpacker, which I promptly phoned. Just in luck they had one spot open for me, and in the background, I could hear loud music and a good party going on. ‘Great’ I thought, ‘now I can have some interaction and a livelier night!’
On-route to the backpackers, through a suburb, I passed by a B&B as advertised on their wall. I immediately had a prompting from the Holy Spirit to stopover, which I did. All four or five rooms of the detached dwelling were vacant, and I was their only guest.
It is very hard for me to explain the kind of peace and quietness I felt at this time. I settled in and sat quietly on the bed reflecting on the day, and especially the past hour or so, reading my Bible intermittently.
(The Backpackers phoned back and enquired as to where I was. On telling them I had found alternate accommodation they were highly indignant and insistent that I should take their vacancy, which I declined. – temptation!)
In the quietness, stillness and peacefulness of the room, without any TV or distractions, God spoke to me,
“Miles, I want you to go tomorrow and feed the poor coloured people of the area.”
That was it.
I cannot say it was audible, but to me it was, and very clear. ‘Ok Lord’ was my reply.
That night I had a wonderful nights rest.
The next morning, I was up bright and early, had breakfast and enquired of the host as to where I could locate one or more of the churches in Upington. (Logically, if I was to assist with feeding the poorer people, I should approach and go through the church surely they would know?) Except for the huge Neederlandse Gehereformede Kerk (NGK), which dominated the skyline like a cathedral, I could not find another church. Approaching the NGK, there was no-one around who could assist or guide me. The temperature is now about 30′ C.
I went to the pub from yesterday and checked in their telephone directory Methodist Church yes! found it. At the church no one. The gardener informed me the minister was away.
The temperature was now about 35’C.
All the logical avenues were dead ends. Now about noon, the temperature was at 40’C, I was hot, frustrated, and my patience was thin.
Angrily I turned to the Lord – ‘Lord’, I said, ‘You told me last night to feed the poor people. I know you did. How do you expect me to accomplish this if you block all the avenues?’
‘I tell you what Lord, I am going to buy food now, as per your instruction, then it’s your problem!’
This is exactly what I did. Going to the local supermarket, I purchased as much food as possible. I recall buying frozen chicken pieces and challenging God ‘Lets see you pull this one off in this heat’ (which was by now +40’C).
Maybe it was my imagination, but honestly, the people serving and assisting, gave a happiness and friendliness I have had not seen before. (I think God was chuckling at me through them)
The back of the vehicle was full of food when I drove from the Supermarket.
‘Ok Lord, I’ve done my bit where to now’. Without feeling prompted or any special feeling, I turned left and headed out of town, westward into the desert area towards the coast. I must say I was feeling a little foolish as you could imagine, driving through the desert with frozen food in the back and no-where to go to!
As I left town, maybe 1km out, I noticed a homeless man, man of the road, or tramp whatever you would call him – dressed in old denim jeans and jacket, plastic bag in his hand. Expecting a terrible putrid smell as he climbed into the car, this was surprisingly not so.
‘Where are you going?’ I asked him. ‘To a place near Augrabies’ he said ‘but anywhere further up the road will be fine.’ (Augrabies was approx. 120km further on)
‘Where are you heading?’ he asked me. ‘I don’t know,’ I replied, ‘just heading in this direction.’
‘What do you do?’ I asked knowing he didn’t do anything.
‘I was called by the Lord 3 months ago to feed the poor coloured communities of the area. That’s what I do’ he replied.
Friends, I can never explain to you the emotions, joy, shock, disbelief, elation that I felt at that time.
With tears flooding down my face, I said to him, ‘Look in the back sir, all that is yours’.
As we drove and offloaded the foods, he told me of how he was a businessman, had given it all up, and responded to the Lords call to start this feeding scheme; together with another man, 6ft6′ at least, with a huge beard. They had an old house which they used and operated in the surrounding areas feeding and spreading the word of God. You see, in this area most people are seasonal workers on vineyards producing raisins, and as the area is dry and desolate, there is very little else that can be done.
I explained to them what had happened from my side leading up to then. ‘Praise God’ was all they said, as they continued offloading. I was amazed at how they accepted this recollection of events, as if it was what they would have expected. For me it was AMAZING, for them it was faith in action like – well what else should God have done?
(Incidentally – by the time we had finished off loading the food, the chicken pieces were still frozen.)
Friends, that evening after I had left, I spent time praising God and reflecting on what He had done. In His quiet way, the Lord spoke to me again and revealed to me the events, and how he sometimes operates. ‘My child’ he said,
‘You took time off to be with me. It was a long trip but the more time you spent with me the closer you got’
‘At first you could feel Me urging you and then later prompting you’
‘You then took that quiet time, waited on Me, and heard Me speak to you’
‘You were obedient to My instruction without question’
‘You then took that step of faith, against logical actions, and purchased the foods’
(God likes a challenge, but He does not like to be challenged my quote)
‘When you take a step of faith in obedience, I will always be there for you’
‘I make the impossible possible I will make a way where there is no other way’
‘My child’, he said, ‘I have been talking to you for so long, but you just have not been listening’.
There were many instances where I could have pulled out. I could have ignored the heavy feeling in my heart to stop and turn around that night. I could have ignored the prompting to stop at the B&B and continued to the ‘party’. I could have given up when there was no-one at the churches and written it off as a figment of my imagination. I could have, (and normally would have), driven past the ‘tramp’.
But then friends, I would have missed out on a personal meeting with my Lord. I do not believe in co-incidence. My one regret is how many times before, after and in the future, you and I will miss, ignore, and override those small urges and promptings, which the Lord builds on to, leading to much greater things for His glory.
I trust the Lord will bless you, with this recollection of his provision and love for us and urge you to seek Him more fervently and with determination, because He is real, He is out there, He is listening please listen for Him.
God bless you all.