John, the man with a calling

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Testimony of Xolani Hector Malebu
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Testimony of Louise Pretorius
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Sunday, 7 November 2019

Introduction: Dietmar Joosten

We welcome everyone who has come from far and wide. I would especially like to welcome some people whom I have known for many years: Oom Pym and Tannie Miep from the Netherlands who have been of great assistance to us with the hothouses over the last 20 years. We owe our success to their help. Whenever we call, they willingly help us. May the Lord bless and keep you and your family and may His face shine upon you. They have come with their friends, Jan and Janetta. What a blessing to get help whether spiritually or agriculturally from people who have experience in those fields. Jan is an expert in Friesland cows and he has been able to give us valuable advice regarding our milk production. How good and wonderful is our God. God sends a man to help us. We deeply appreciate what he has done and trust that it will not be the last time that we see each other.

Now two people will give us their testimonies.

Testimony of Xolani Hector Malebu

My father is Tswana and my mother, Xhosa. I grew up in Grahamstown and then moved to Port Elizabeth. In PE I did my first year of schooling and then the family went into exile to Morogorro in Tanzania. I studied at Solomon Mahlangu Freedom College where we were only taught about the struggle and sang freedom songs. God was not considered there so He did not exist.

My mother was taken to Germany where she studied and my father became an MK soldier. I lived without my parents. We were looked after by the community. When somebody died there were no Christian songs that were sung as the coffin was lowered, only armed struggle songs. We sang that we would return from the dead to fight the Afrikaner. As a young soldier there is one thing you can do and that is to drink alcohol. I began to drink heavily.

In 1990 Nelson Mandela was released and in 1992 the exiles returned to the country. My parents were divorced. My father went to Britain and I returned to Port Elizabeth with my mother where she left us children with family members and went to Durban. Upon returning from exile, we knew nothing about family life, so I returned to alcohol. I was unruly and nobody could tell me anything. I began different courses; firstly, mechanical engineering and then marketing management but I could not finish because of alcohol. Then I reckoned that the way out was to get a girlfriend. I found a girl, married her and in 1999 we had a son. Things began to improve. I no longer drank and I got a job in one of the leading banks. There I earned a lot of money and returned to drinking. I left the bank and began selling time shares and other things. My wife said she could no longer live with me and my drinking and divorced me. I continued drinking and got myself a second woman. We had a daughter but she also gave up on me because of alcohol. In 2009 my mother passed away which was an excuse for me to drink even more. I received an inheritance from my mother which worsened my problems.

My drinking pals were quite a large group, however, one day, one of the men vanished. After two or three months he returned completely changed. He used to drink and smoke a lot but he stopped. He spoke to us about the Lord. I told him that when he went back to the place he had visited, I wanted to go with him. But his reply was, “No, if you want to go and experience that, you must go on your own.” After that, a second member of the group also vanished for a long time. He returned with an aQuellé bottle and his name on that bottle. He told me, “This is how great God is, even at aQuellé they have my flavour now.” By then I felt I was completely lost so I pleaded with him to take me to the place he had visited. So he brought me KwaSizabantu Mission on 12 December 2018.

I was taken to the reception. I told Mr Mout that I wanted to change my life. It was the youth conference at that time. I did not even understand why I had come. I thought I had just come to sort out my alcohol problem.

Allow me to explain what alcohol did to me. In 2012 while drinking with my friends, I was so drunk that I had a black-out. My friends went out to steal and the next morning they had a lot of money and we continued drinking. After two or three days the police arrived. Two of my friends and I were recovering from a hangover when ee were arrested and charged with armed robbery. Those people whom I called my friends, said that I had been with them and was as guilty as they were. One of them turned state witness and I was sentenced to 15 years in prison in 2013. I appealed my case and in 2016 I was released.

On 16 December, Reverend Stegen was preaching and Mr Pretorius interpreting. I was sitting at the back because I always sat at the back – the back of the class, the back of the bus, the back of church. In the front were representatives of different political parties. Rev Stegen read from Luke 15:11 – 32. It was the first time I had seen him. At the back where I was sitting, the devil was playing the fool with me. I wanted the service to end, to eat lunch and go back home. So I got up and left the auditorium while the service was on. I saw some of my brothers sitting outside and God spoke to me and said, “Do you also want to sit like these people and achieve nothing?” So I returned. Rev Stegen repeated the same story he had told. Again I wanted to leave. Rev Stegen said, “This is the greatest story ever told.” (The story of the lost son) When he repeated it like that, for the first time ever, I prayed. I said, “Please Lord, let him repeat what he has just said.” He did and I moved from the back to the front. That was the last time I sat at the back.

I went for counselling and I was taught that I should confess my sin. One day, for the first time I felt sorrow and remorse for my sins and I understood that I needed help because there was no much wrong in my life. Over time I received help and soon I will have been here for a year. I want to learn more about the Lord. I could make peace with my family and my children. I want to thank everybody here at the mission, the fathers and mothers, the school children who respect me. I want to say to the young men and I quote something Mrs Bornman said to us: We must strive to not be parasites, rather become paratroopers in the paramilitary of the Paramount Chief who is waiting for us in Paradise. To Reverend Stegen: I love you.

Testimony of Louise Pretorius

Thank you very much that I may share my story. My name is Louise Pretorius and I am the child of co-workers here on the mission. As I grew up I was a very rebellious and disobedient child. The devil got a hold in my life at a very early age and I struggled especially with anger, it became so bad that I would do anything just get rid of the anger. I went for prayer but I experienced no victory. When I was very young, between the ages of 7 and 10, I took the decision that if the Lord could not help me, the devil might. So I gave myself to Satan and asked him to help me with my anger and that is how he deceived me.

The problems especially at home worsened. My anger was more controlled on the outside but it would rage inside. I was extremely disrespectful especially to my parents and my grandmother. Eventually, to escape the turmoil in my heart and mind, I started reading books. They were good books by the normal standard but I read them to get into that world and out of my own world. I would read up to 2 or 3 books a day.

I finished school and in my mind I thought I was serving the Lord but I had forgotten that I had given myself to Satan. I got a job at the shop. Initially I helped on the floor but then I started assisting with the computer work. I got to a point where my work got too much for me but instead of asking for help, I found an escape route – I started reading the news on the internet. Then I found a poetry site where I wrote poetry and the comments from readers were like a drug to me. Satan only brings misery, depression and anxiety into one’s life. All this time I thought I was ok because I was confessing my sin but I was getting no help. I was too ashamed to say what I was busy with. I felt a complete failure so I looked around and found a website called 7 Cups of Tea. On this website you can chat with people for hours and they listen to you, encourage and help you with your problems. They would tell me what a good person I was and that it was actually my parents’ fault and that I was not that bad. Eventually, however, even that grew stale as they kept repeating the same things over and over and my life wasn’t changing. Then I found free books online. Initially I started reading Christian novels but then moved onto secular novels and love stories and then I went onto pornographic novels.

All this time I was on the mission, supposedly working for the Lord but I reached the point where I thought I could no longer carry on. I could see that this gospel helped other people but not myself. I thought I was probably meant for hell and that it would be better to kill myself quickly and stop being a shame to my parents. I did research on how to commit suicide when I received a phone call that Rev Stegen wanted to see me. He said, “The Lord showed me in a dream last night that you are busy with things on the internet and if you continue with them you will go to hell.” I cried because I saw God’s love and that He had not rejected me and was not finished with me. I would like to say that that was the end but it was not. I went straight back to my old ways and pornography because I could not help myself.

About 3 days after that went to Maqhogo where there was no technology and computers and where I was able to make my life right with the Lord. I knew I had done bad things but I could not remember specific sins – this is how the devil binds you. I had looked at Tarot cards on the internet and I did not know how that binds you spiritually. So I received prayer from Rev Stegen and the Lord began revealing my sins and I began confessing them. Then I returned home in October 2017 and fell straight back into my old sins. There was nobody at home, I had supposedly been helped but the devil and I had not been divorced. He had gotten such control over my mind that he could tell me anything and I would believe it. I believed that my parents did not like me and that they were ashamed of me. My two sisters were the good ones in my family and I was the sinner. Then I began hiding myself in books again. All my sins worsened.

My disrespect made it almost impossible to live with me at home. I withdrew and I did not even want to eat with my family anymore. I felt that I was oppressed. I went back to 7 Cups of Tea. I went back to writing poetry which took me into deeper emotional darkness. I got to the point where I wrote letters to each of my family members and I told them what I believed they were doing wrong and how they were mistreating me. My father did not say much but he encouraged me to visit the aunties and share with them the trouble I was going through.

I was desperate. I thought I was going mad inside. I asked if I could go to the hospital ward because I knew people had been helped there before. I was in a spiritual ICU. The Lord started doing a miracle in my life. The first point that I had to reach was to divorce Satan and accept the Lord as my Saviour. Even after I did this I had to keep on in faith because the devil told me that it was not real and I was not serious about this. I was taught how to confess my sins. I had grown up in revival and I thought I knew but the devil had completely confused my mind. I could not speak straight, I could only cry. The Lord set me free from the demon that had entered me when I gave myself to Satan. The Lord set me free from anger and jealousy, that demon that had kept me captive from a young age. I was able to reconcile with my family and I am amazed at the love, the mercy and forgiveness that I have received from them. The Lord gave me a love and a respect, it is something that comes from Him. I can only thank the Lord Jesus Christ for the miracle that He has done in my life. The devil had given me complete mental confusion, anxiety and depression. I fought against those who wanted to help me, but even though I grew up at the fountain and rejected it, God did not reject me. Today I can say Jesus Christ is mine. He has saved me and He is my Lord.

Thank you to Rev Stegen, Aunt Lydia, the aunties, my counsellors, my family. The love and forgiveness that I have received from them has given me a small picture of what God must be like. It is my prayer and desire that as Satan had bound me, so the Lord will control me, and that Jesus Christ would be glorified in and through my life. His power and his forgiveness cannot be overcome.

Sermon: Detlef Stegen

We praise the Lord for His working amongst us. May our lips utter the praise to God for all He does.

“The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin if the world.” John 1:29

In this text, John sees Jesus coming to him. Jesus had been in the wilderness where he was tempted for 40 days and 40 nights and then the heavenly host attended to Him.

John was a man with a calling, who was different to others. He recognised Jesus. I wonder what Jesus looked like after the wilderness experience? John could discern without any human being telling him, that this was Jesus. John did not esteem himself better than others. He said, “I am not even fit to be the slave of Jesus.” How we men see ourselves fit for Christ’s use! We say we able to go out onto the mission field, we are capable of fulfilling God’s calling. We claim to have been prepared by the Lord for a specific task because we have the qualifications. Then we come to the mission field and rely on our qualifications, capabilities and knowledge that we have received through people.

Although John was related to Jesus, (their mothers were cousins) he said, “I myself did not know him, but for this purpose I came baptising with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.” John 1:31 And when the scribes and the learned people sent messengers to go and find out who this man was who was preaching in the wilderness and who gave him the authority – they asked whether he was Elijah. He confessed and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.” And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the prophet?” And he answered, “No.” So they said to him, “Who are you? We need to give an answer to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” He said, “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as the prophet Isaiah said. (now they had been sent from the Pharisees.) They asked him, “Then why are you baptising, if you are neither the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?” John answered them, “I baptise with water, but among you stands one you do not know, even he who comes after me, the strap of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie.” John 1: 20-27

Do you see where it all begins? It begins in your personal life. There is a way that needs to be prepared – Christ’s way, not your way according to your wishes and desires. Do you understand why some people speak the way they speak because they are seeking God’s will for their lives, not their own will.

Dare I say this morning, if you are on the mission, on these premises, or at other missions and on other premises, are you busy preparing the way of the Lord or have you come with other motives? You should be of John’s calibre. If you are disqualified by the words of John, shouldn’t you rather go home and prepare the way of the Lord first in your life before you reside at the mission or on the mission field, lest you do harm to Christ’s cause?

If you say things that are not according to God’s will, whether you are a man, a father of children or a child, rather go to a place where your foul mouth can be washed. Do not think that through baptism, as we saw last Sunday, your mouth will be washed. You can be here on the mission but you can be used by the devil because of your hardness of heart.

John was consumed by Christ’s business, not his own, and that is why he spoke as he did. That is why he could turn away those who came for baptism, calling them a brood of vipers. He said to them that they just want to clean the outside of the cup but they should clean the inside as well. Do not be concerned that you are dressed in tattered clothes. Do not be concerned about putting on a tie and a suit. The first step is get clean your heart and the rest will take care of itself. Do not say that because you are on the mission, you are a good cup – you look good, you smile well, you speak well and people will honour you because you have given up everything else.

Check up on your life. Check up on your talk. What do you speak about at the dinner table when your children are present or when you are alone without those who can reprimand you and tell you that you should not be speaking in that manner in front of your children.

John saw Christ coming to himself. He saw the Lamb of God coming to him. Do you have to be told that Christ is coming to you? You are happy as long as you do not lose your position, as long as your children are being cared for, as long as they love your wife. You have it back to front, friend. Are you fitting in? Do you not disqualify yourself when you see the state of your own life? No, you are busy with talk, cheap talk, evaluating others. You cannot beat your own breast in remorse.

John was of Elijah’s stature. Elijah means: My God is Jehovah. Elijah could pray. On a certain day he said to Ahab, “As the Lord, the God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there shall be neither dew nor rain these years, except by my word.” 1 Kings 17:1 On a day of decision, a day when he got rid of the Baal worshippers, he summoned the children of Israel and demanded: “How long will you go limping between two different opinions?” 1 Kings 18:21

John lived a short life. After he spoke these words, he did not live much longer. He witnessed the Spirit of God coming down in the form of a dove on the Lamb of God. His life was cut short because of Herod’s wife, Herodias, who held a grudge against him and wanted to silence him for ever. Even before the Lord died for us, John also died as fulfilment of the will of God.

Have we surrendered our minds to Christ? A footnote in one Bible says: When we truly understand who Christ is, our pride and self-importance melt away. We often have self-worshipping minds. Paul wrote in Ephesians 4:17: You must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart.

Is your life acceptable to God? Many people do not like the word “perfect” but through the renewing of the mind we can prove the perfect will of God. Have you put your life on the scales to see whether you are performing God’s will or your own? Is your life fruitless? Maybe it should be because of the kind of life you are living. There should not be heaven’s fruit in your life because you are a worshipper of your own image. But those who have laid their lives on the altar will understand and reap some of heaven’s fruit which is the fruit of the Spirit.

John called out in the wilderness: Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. John 1:29 He has taken away my sin, has He taken away yours? He has come to save those who are lost, lost in themselves, lost in their own image, lost in their self-esteem. May we be cleansed by the Blood and our lives be filled with the Holy Spirit.

 

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