Introduction: Dietmar Joosten
I would like to share something that touched me. Two European young girls visited here a while ago. Their goal is to serve the Lord. They felt led by God to help in Mozambique where DFL operates. On a Sunday, about three weeks ago, more people came to church than expected. After the service they provided a meal which they realised would be insufficient to feed all the people. People from the area that attended the service asked the girls to make a plan to get more food. These girls were in a foreign country, they did not speak the language, the house where the food was stored was locked and they had no key so it was impossible to even cook extra food. So these two girls knelt down and called out to the Lord Jesus. Then they told the people who were serving to continue. There was enough food for each person. Everybody had sufficient food to eat. This has also happened here at the mission. That is God at work I might be wrong but look around, God is using even children.
Testimony of Christopher Thompson from CYPSA
It is privilege to stand here. I am glad to share my testimony and it is an opportunity to say thank you to the congregation and the Mission.
On Tuesday this week I received a Bachelor’s Degree in Education but only through the care and the grace of the Lord Jesus and His work here on the Mission. From the very first day, up until today I have experienced nothing but firm support, encouragement and love from the congregation, Reverend Stegen, Ms Dube, Ms Newlands and the Board of Directors at DSS. For the last 5 years they have nurtured and helped me in every single aspect of my growth as a young man both physically – Ms Newlands pointed out I was half the size when I arrived here, spiritually – with a firm foundation and mentally – with an education, a degree. I have truly experienced a miraculous transformation on the Mission. I have been given everything from accommodation, to clothes, to food and have never been asked for R1. I did not ask for anything, it was just freely given in abundance. I thank the Lord, He truly has given much. I know that he who has been given much and forgiven much, loves much and much is expected from him. So this is only the beginning of my Christianity and I am grateful that the Lord used KwaSizabantu to establish that foundation.
I lived a very godless life and I did not deserve any of this saving grace. My parents divorced and shortly afterwards my mother was killed in a car accident when I was 7 years old. I blamed God and deliberately rebelled against God in my heart from that young age until I arrived at the gates of KSB. I rebelled against the will of God for my life and the direction older people gave me. I made my own decisions from a young age without accepting responsibility for any of the consequences. When things got bad I simply ran away leaving a trail of destruction behind me. I lived a life of deception, pretending to be someone I was not, always reinventing myself and moving from place to place. Often the things I worked towards, within a few years, would be lost. I was the fool who built on the sand and I always failed in every aspect of life. I have experienced two abortions. I failed in two investments. I went for jobs I was not qualified for and when the truth would surface, I used drugs. I used drugs for 17 years to suppress the truth and my guilt rather than deal with the problems. This is particularly true of marijuana, a person does not develop emotionally if they smoke it for a long time.
I was close to 30 but had nothing to show for it, other than a very dark complexion and a very depressed demeanour and aura. I reached a point where it did not matter how many lies I told, people could see in my face and appearance that I was in a very dark place. I realised that I could no longer continue living a hypocritical life. I had ask for help to find a solution. I had hit rock-bottom. So I told my family that I was not well, that I needed to return home and get help. I did not tell them the full truth because I was ashamed. They gladly accepted me back from Europe.
They did not know how to help me at first. They got all the books on self-help and New Age ideas. I worked my way through these books but most of them only made me worse. The last book was written by Angus Buchan, a farmer who lives not far from here. The Holy Spirit worked through that book and touched me deeply. I opened the book and soon started crying. I cried the whole way through. I had not cried in years. I had a lot of built up emotions and a heart of stone. By the time I got to Mr Buchan’s testimony, I was emotionally broken and lying on the floor. Like Angus Buchan suggested, I surrendered there and then. I said, “Lord, I’ve made a mess of this life, please won’t You take control.” The next day I felt led to pack a bag and visit Mr Buchan on his farm. As I was walking out the door, my family stopped me and asked me where I was going. I said that I was going to this farmer’s house. They asked me all the questions: how would I get there? Where was his house? Was he expecting me?
A week later, after leaving behind my pornography, drugs, movies and music, with a backpack on my back, I arrived at Angus Buchan’s house. I had scruffy beard. There was a cigarette hanging out my mouth. My jeans were hanging down. I had long fingernails. I looked awful. He did not know what to do with me at first but then he said that he would take me to KwaSizabantu the following morning. That night he put me up in his cottage with a nice meal and some of his books. Early the following morning I was dropped off at KSB Mission.
I barely realised I was in KZN. Mr David Green welcomed me at the reception. I had surrendered to the Lord the week before in my family home and I knew this was where the Lord wanted me to be, He had led me without me knowing it. Mr Green said, “Hello, how can we help you?” I said, “I don’t know. Where am I?” He explained that this is a Christian mission station. I said, “That is good because I am looking for a place where I can sit down and read the Bible.” Mr Green said, “I think you have come to the right place.” He arranged for me to be taken to my accommodation and they explained the routine about church services at 10, 3 and 7. I quickly put my bags down and found a quiet place to read the Bible. I did not really know how to read the Bible because it was my first attempt. So I scanned through and noticed there was a chapter called Numbers. I thought I would start by reading my birthday numbers – 5 May. So I read from Numbers 5:5-7
5The Lord said to Moses, 6 “Say to the Israelites: ‘Any man or woman who wrongs another in any way and so is unfaithful to the Lord is guilty 7 and must confess the sin they have committed. They must make full restitution for the wrong they have done, add a fifth of the value to it and give it all to the person they have wronged.
I closed my Bible and went back to Mr Green. I asked if I could confess my sins. He made phone call and directed me to a counsellor. I started crying and sobbing over things I had long forgotten. With my counsellor over the weeks we worked back to that day I had rejected God’s will for my life and blamed Him for the death of my mother. Together with my counsellor, we pulled that root out and threw it away. My counsellor prayed that the Lord would forgive me for my life of rebellion and rejection. From that time I have not had to tell lies, to pretend to be happy, to walk around with shame. During this process in those first few weeks on the mission, as a member of CYPSA, in all the church services, the Bible readings and the counselling sessions, the Lord Jesus Christ was personally with me. It was through Reverend Stegen, Ms Dube and you, the congregation, that the Lord worked and I could experience salvation. I personally experienced the saving grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is something that nobody can take away from you or change. It is your most valuable gift and it is mine. I experienced it here at KSB mission, by God’s grace, without any of my own planning, wisdom, direction or effort.
I allowed the Lord to take control of my decisions. When I told my family that I would be studying to become an English teacher they thought it was a very bad idea that had failure written all over it. But it was the Lord’s will and the way the Lord has led. I know that it is His work that has happened in my life, it is nothing that I have done. I am so thankful that I can experience the Lord’s will for my life and I pray that many of the other young men who have come for help will experienced God’s will for their lives that they can go out with meaning, joy and productivity in a horrible world.
In closing, I would like to read something from AW Tozer which explains what I have experienced. “We appreciate the effort and hours that go into academic progress but we must always keep God’s wisdom and God’s admonitions in mind. Search and study as we will, and we discover that we have only learnt fragments of the truth. On the other hand, the newest Christian believer has already learnt many marvellous things that are at the centre of truth. He has met and knows God! That is the primary issue, my brother and sister. That is why we earnestly invite men and women to become converted, taking Jesus Christ as their Saviour and Lord!” At my graduation ceremony this week there were many people celebrating this fragment of truth but how much greater to know the centre of truth. I am truly thankful for everything I have received and experienced here. I pray that the Lord will keep you and me and that we will continue bringing salvation to those who call out to the Lord.
Thank you, Christopher. Nothing is impossible with God. We witness His strength and wisdom. We congratulate him on his degree which he achieved Cum Laude.
Sermon: Detlef Stegen
Sometimes if one listens to testimonies, one is envious of the work the Lord does in breaking a hardened heart. One can ask the Lord to continue doing that work in one’s life as well. Christopher’s conversion began with deep sorrow. Many have been converted and felt or expressed deep sorrow. Billy Graham once said that at the beginning of his ministry, people came forward weeping as they accepted Christ but nowadays people accept Jesus with a smile. The fruit of it will be like the seed that falls on hardened ground, it may spring up but it shrivels and dies soon afterwards.
Dear brothers and sisters, I stand here but I would prefer others to stand here. At the moment we are experiencing wonderful services which are expounded by insignificant people that you do not know. I wish that I could just call them up and ask them to speak. But unfortunately some people would not be happy. Some may brand it as unbiblical. If it is just the word, the letter, it kills. Intellectual people claim to be biblical but they present a dead word, a letter that kills and it is not the Spirit that brings life. Do not miss out. You will be the poorer for it. Christopher, we urge you on. Stay true and faithful lest one day that sorrowful and crushed heart is of no value to you anymore.
Allow me to share something with you who understand stories better.
Charles Spurgeon once told his students: ‘The strong are not always vigorous; the joyous are not always happy.’ Spurgeon himself was living proof for he also suffered agonising periods of depression. One of the worst occurred when he was only 22 years old. His congregation had outgrown its building so Spurgeon arranged to rent the Royal Surrey Garden’s Music hall, London’s most commodious and beautiful building for Sunday night services. Surrey Hall usually accommodated secular concerts, carnivals, and circuses. Using it as a place of worship was unheard of in its day and the news spread through London like lightning.
On Sunday morning, October 19, 1856, Spurgeon preached at the New Park Street Chapel saying: ‘I may be called to stand where the thunderclouds brew, where the lightnings play, and tempestuous winds are howling on the mountain top. Well, then, amidst dangers He will inspire me with courage; amidst toils He will make me strong; we shall be gathered together tonight where an unprecedented mass of people will assemble, perhaps from idle curiosity, to hear God’s word; see what God can do, just when a cloud is falling on the head of him whom God has raised up to preach to you.’
That evening 12 000 people streamed into Surrey hall and an additional 10 000 overflowed into the surrounding gardens. The services started, but as Spurgeon rose to pray, someone shouted, ‘Fire! Fire! The galleries are giving way!’ There was no fire but the crowd bolted in panic and in the resulting stampede 7 people were trampled to death. 28 more were hospitalised.
The young preacher, reeling in shock, was literally carried from the pulpit to a friend’s house where he remained in seclusion for weeks. He wept by day and suffered terrifying dreams at night. He later said, ‘My thoughts were all a case of knives, cutting my heart to pieces.” At last, while meditating on Philippians 2:10 the Lord’s word began to restore his soul.
It was this disaster, horrible as it was, that vaulted Charles Spurgeon to overnight fame as a preacher all the world wanted to hear. 19 October, On This Day in Christian History, Robert J Morgan
Charles Spurgeon was only 22 years old when he had this terrible experience. Everyone saw red lights flashing, sounding alarms and warnings. Sometimes God’s sifts not in the way man thinks.
One day, John, the disciple whom the Lord loved, was banished to the Isle of Patmos for the sake of the Gospel. On the Lord’s Day he heard a voice like a trumpet call. He turned to look at where the voice was coming from when he saw Jesus – the Jesus who had walked on earth. He saw His face, His attire, His feet, His eyes and he fell down as dead. When God sifts, you can only say: ‘I am undone! I am dying!’
31 “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. 32 But I have prayed for you, Simon that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” Luke 22:31 – 32 Simon was sifted on a few occasions to an extent where he and possibly many Christians, lost hope and said that his eagerness, his zealousness had caused him to stumble.
Today I would like to present a portion of Gideon’s testimony.
2 The Lord said to Gideon, “You have too many men. I cannot deliver Midian into their hands, or Israel would boast against me, ‘My own strength has saved me.’ 3 Now announce to the army, ‘Anyone who trembles with fear may turn back and leave Mount Gilead.’” So twenty-two thousand men left, while ten thousand remained.4 But the Lord said to Gideon, “There are still too many men. Take them down to the water, and I will thin them out for you there. If I say, ‘This one shall go with you,’ he shall go; but if I say, ‘This one shall not go with you,’ he shall not go.” 5 So Gideon took the men down to the water. There the Lord told him, “Separate those who lap the water with their tongues as a dog laps from those who kneel down to drink.” 6 Three hundred of them drank from cupped hands, lapping like dogs. All the rest got down on their knees to drink. 7 The Lord said to Gideon, “With the three hundred men that lapped I will save you and give the Midianites into your hands. Let all the others go home.”
Judges 7:2, 4 – 7
Where did Gideon get the authority from to send the people home? These 30 000 men who were deployed in the army and wanted to fight the Lord’s battles could have revolted against Gideon. They had valid reasons to be deployed and to be counted in battle. But Gideon had the authority to send them home. The Lord only needed 300 men. Do your Maths – 1 out of 100. Why? God spoke to Gideon and said that He would test the soldiers for him. “I will say who will go or stay. Just do as I say.” God works through man and with man as a team. Do you see this wonderful team? God with man. This team cannot be resisted – say what you like, write as you like, rave as you like, until you become a madman because God chooses the ones whom He wills. Do not leave God out of the equation because you will be the poorer for it.
When the angel of God met Gideon, he was beating wheat in the winepress, not on the threshing floor. The angel of the Lord commissioned him and Gideon replied, “Alas, Sovereign Lord! I have seen the angel of the Lord face to face!” But the Lord said to him, “Peace! Do not be afraid. You are not going to die.” Judges 6:22,23. A person who has a meeting with God feels that he is undone and he is dying. Isaiah, that wonderful evangelist, said that if your sins are as red as scarlet they shall be whiter than snow. When he walked into the holy sanctuary and saw the Lord high and exalted on His throne, with the seraphim shouting, “Holy, Holy, Holy.” He said, “I am undone. I am dying. I am ruined. I am a man of unclean lips.”
God said to Gideon, “You will not die.” It is only Jesus who can raise us out of our sorrow, after being trampled on and scrubbed on the threshing floor.
The day of the greatest distress is when God appears for the relief of His people. 2 The Lord said to Gideon, The people who are with you are too many for Me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel boast about themselves against Me, saying, My own hand has delivered me. Judges 7:2 (AMPC) Boasting is directed against God.
The threshing floor is the Lord’s not ours. During Biblical times oxen or donkeys would trample the wheat until it was scrubbed clean of the chaff and only the corn remained. They also used a sledge, a piece of material to which stones and metal pieces were attached. The owner would sit on the sledge which was drawn over the wheat. It was a very painful process. Do you understand why Isaiah cried out, “Woe is me, I am ruined because of the sledge that is raked over my life.” Your reputation is ruined, palaces and wonderful experiences need to come down in ruins. If you are unprepared for Christ’s sledge you will not be called, you will be part of the chaff with all that was unwilling to separate from it. You will be rejected.
Mr David Wilkerson wrote: “I once met a minister who had this experience. He told me, ‘My dad was a preacher for fifty years, and he was always poor. When he retired, he and my mom were poverty-stricken, barely able to scrape by. A few years ago, as I visited them in their trailer home, a voice rose up in me. I told myself I would never end up poor, like them. I would wheel and deal if I had to, whatever was necessary to be secure.’ This man was a leader in his denomination, overseeing many pastors. But soon he was investing in shady real-estate deals. He knew it was wrong, but he couldn’t break free of the spirit that hounded him. He was still bound by a fear of ending up poor. Like Judas, this man was an easy mark for Satan, who invaded his covetous heart.” www.worldchallenge.org
Praise God for an Isaiah, a Gideon, a Peter, a John, even a Charles Spurgeon who were willing to be on Jesus’ threshing floor. Are you so blind that you cannot see those whose lives are on the threshing floor? Those who are a team, together with Jesus, our Saviour and Lord, the ruler of this earth, the overcomer and victor over all Satan’s powers. The One of whom John testified: I baptise you with water but after me is coming One who will baptise you with fire. Luke 3:16
Friends, that threshing floor is God’s floor, not yours. You do not jump off and on as you like. If you have been sent home, that was your own decision. Speak worthily. Speak truthful believable words. Do not speak unbelievable words lest no one will believe you anymore.
Praise God that this event happened in the beginning of Charles Spurgeon’s life. How disastrous if you get to the threshing floor at the end of your life and then you will need to cry out, “I am undone, I am dying!”
Don’t you want to be a part of the team where the angel of the Lord, Jesus Himself, says, “I will test on your behalf. Just do what I tell you and the rest – send them home because I will accomplish My battle with the handful, the 1 in a 100. I know these will not seek glory for themselves, the glory will be to the Lamb of God who sits on the throne.”
Whom do we want to glorify? Many tongues want to praise Him. Are you part of the team that is giving praise to Him? 24 Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains [just one grain; it never becomes more but lives] by itself alone. John 12:24 If God can find one man, He will work according to His eternal plan, but how wonderful if Jesus can walk among us and He is the leader of the team.