It has been a rough and extremely busy year…I am not always sure whether all the ‘good things’ I have been busy with were all ‘God things’.
Jan and I recently travelled to China and Singapore, where God opened some astounding new doors. I could share God’s vision that He entrusted to me…to ‘make a difference in deaf education!’ with hundreds of principals and staff from Chinese schools for the deaf. Planting the seeds that there is ‘a new way’ and thanks to modern technology, today’s deaf children can speak – provided that these deaf children identified and fitted with amplification. The key is early identification and the necessary support in a language rich environment, such as a mainstream school. In my life, I have experienced God opening many doors for me along the way. It became the expected, the norm…slowly God, my First love, became not only my Friend, but also my ‘mate’, my ‘chum’.
This was Anita and my 3rd trip to Namaqualand. For a short period this normally arid area becomes covered with a kaleidoscope of colour during the flowering season. This is known throughout South Africa as the Namaqualand daisy season, when orange and white daisies, as well as hundreds of other flowering species, spring up from a previously barren landscape. 15 years ago we were too early. Last year we were too late. This year we were ‘just right’, exactly during the time the locals told us to come, the third weekend in August during early spring. For the best views we needed to travel from north to south, as the flowers turned towards the sun for warmth.
Anita and I had 10 wonderful days. After our guesthouse in Naries, near the town of Springbok, we travelled to a tented lodge. Only 7 tents, without power but we did have Wi-Fi and leg of lamb that evening. I love leg of lamb. The next morning a rather chilly wind blew and I decided to ‘lie in’ under the thick duvet and not have my normal ‘quiet time’ – as Anita said, “God will understand”. We waited for the flask of hot water to be delivered to the tent for our coffee.
I am standing in a queue with a number of different people at Shoprite – waiting to pay the Eduplex and our Property Company’s water and light bills. A few people in the queue wait to buy a Lotto ticket – some clutching R10 in their hands…their last R10? I can see the desperation on their faces, ‘if only I can win something this time!’. If you are down to your last R10, you have probably exhausted all your options – and perhaps the Lotto is your only hope?
While waiting I think about my pressing needs. The millions for our new sports fields and our online university – a huge mountain before me. To whom can I go for help? The need for the Eduplex projects are so big that even the Lotto won’t help much. I realise that I need help from ‘somebody’ with infinite resources and I feel like turning the faces of the people standing in the queue to my only hope … God himself… and feel like yelling ‘Look to God and trust Him! He will provide, I can testify to that!’
7 May would have been the birthday of a very good friend, Martin Holdt, had he not departed to be with the Lord some years ago. During his funeral his family gave out a bookmark with his photo on and Ps 23. Every morning during my quiet time I see his photo and reminded of the words he so often shared with me or prayed over me. Martin gave me my first daily devotional book, Cheque Book of the Bank of Faith by Charles Spurgeon. After my time of prayer I still read this little book (plus some other devotional readings) every morning and stand amazed at how God opens up different passages and messages when I need it most … messages I never ‘saw’ in the years I have been reading it. It changed my life and the way I kept my quiet time.
This year will be 30-years that we have been distributing Phonak hearing aids in sub-Saharan Africa. Soon we will celebrate this important milestone with more than 250 international and local guests. In organising such an event one inevitably has to look back, visit the many memories, look at old photos and think about the people met and the friends made throughout the world. I don’t like looking back because apart from the good memories it also reminds you of the many hurts, pain, fears and tears. But I have to, I have to remind my guests of the road we travelled.
As I looked back over the past three decades I saw a golden thread woven through my life. That thread is called G R A C E. Instead of God’s wrath, I met His undeserved and unwarranted abundant favour, goodwill, and His loving kindness. As I look at His promises, given to me in my quiet time, I am humbled. They all came true, some still in the process of being fulfilled. Allow me to share a few with you …