Deon van Tonder

Walk before Me and be upright

Gen 17:1b: Walk before Me and be upright

I had the privilege of growing up in a family with parents having a mission heart – reaching others for Christ. Our home was a little heaven – I only realized this when I moved out to go and study.

My father learned of Kwasizabantu while he was busy with theological studies and we subsequently moved to the mission in 1978, and stayed there for about a year. As a result of the help we received, we continued to visit the mission frequently. We usually attended the youth services as my dad had a burden for our salvation.

During those services the Lord convicted me of my sins, but I wanted to enjoy my life, so I refused to repent. I wanted the best of both worlds, to please everyone. I lived a very moral life and prided myself in it. However, my consciousness of sin was so keen, that I would confess my sins in my heart at times during the services to appease my conscience. But I did not receive any help or lasting deliverance from this. I was a slave to sin and knew it. I felt the Lord wanted me to admit my sins before a child of God. But my pride kept me from this and I argued against it for many years.

In my later teens I became more and more rebellious – wanting to do my own thing. As expected, this caused me to clash with my parents.

I eventually finished school. God was good to me and helped me to get excellent grades. I was offered a bursary and was accepted for Chemical Engineering at university. My parents lived in Durban, but I decided to go study in Pretoria. Shortly before I left, my dad called me one Sunday after the service at Claridge. He wanted uncle Erlo to pray with me. I expected a rebuke or warning, but uncle Erlo was friendly, asked about my studies and plans and then prayed for God’s help and undertaking with my studies.

God honoured the prayer of His servant and I did very well at university, getting high 90%’s for many of my courses. At the end of the first semester, I was waiting for my exam results before returning home for vacation. The one day as I walked into my room, I felt challenged that this is my day of decision – choose today whom you will follow. I saw clearly two paths: one living for myself, gaining fame, riches; the other God’s way, giving up my will and following Him, with associated hardships. One ends in eternal destruction, the other in eternal bliss with the Lord. I said to myself, that’s no choice, considering the end, the latter is clearly the best. I said to the Lord Jesus that I choose His way. At that moment my sin appeared before my mind’s eye like a huge mountain, and I knew the Lord wanted me to make these things right, by bringing my sins into the light, one by one. I shrugged back at the thought of the humiliation of doing this, and the enormity of the task. Suddenly, I remembered a word I’d heard: “If it is difficult today to confess your sin, tomorrow will be more difficult!” Being mathematically minded I concluded by induction that if I don’t have the strength today to make my sin right, my shortfall of strength would just increase into the future. When I got to the mission I could see a counsellor and I walked out a new man and since that day I believe the Lord changed even my way of thinking.

Temptations, doubts and battles did come, and sometimes I failed and at other times overcame. I always found God’s children more than willing to listen and pray with me in my struggles. Through it all, the Lord has kept me to this day and I pray that He will help me to continue to practice His presence and be upright.

The Lord blessed me during my years at university. He even gave me insight to solve difficult problems. At one time I was writing a computer program to invert matrices of variable size. I prayed for help and was then able to figure out a way to code this.

Over the years many a storm has come. People and places change – some for the better, other for the worse. I recall one occasion where I was burdened with many a question. As I was on my way to visit the mission, I prayed that God would reveal Himself to me. That by seeing Him, I would be changed to become more like the Lord Jesus. I attended the evening service and after I left, I realized that all my questions did not trouble me anymore, even though they were not specifically addressed. The Lord Jesus and communion with Him is the answer to our final questions, those of the heart. I was satisfied not to have all the answers, having His peace guarding my heart and Him guiding my steps.

The Lord has kept me now for more than 30 years and it is my prayer that I will stay at the foot of the Cross, and become more and more like our Lord Jesus Christ. As I’m living in Australia – the Livestream services are now my window to the mission. I find spiritual sustenance, blessing, encouragement, conviction and exhortation through the services.

Deon van Tonder

Deon van Tonder