Port Elizabeth businessman Malcolm Bailes chatted to his dad while surfing on at least 10 occasions – but during those pleasant encounters at the beach neither of them realised they were father and son, or that God was busy answering prayers they had both been praying for years.
Malcolm was adopted as an infant by an Addo farming couple who he says provided him and his younger adopted brother with a caring home and a great childhood. They went to church with his mother but his father seldom joined them.
He was confirmed in the Anglican Church during his high school years but says it brought about no change in his heart. As a student at Stellenbosch University he sensed the presence of the Holy Spirit for the first time at a church service. Then through the influence of a Christian employer he started attending St Nicholas Anglican Church in PE where he is still actively involved.
About 10 years ago, aged 25, he for the first time experienced the unconditional love and acceptance of his Heavenly Father during a men’s weekend at Word of Faith Christian Centre. He also sensed God say: “Your inheritance is in me”. The experience ministered to insecurities he felt about being adopted and because of a lack of intimacy with his adoptive father.
Life was better after that but he still “messed up”, said, Malcolm, explaining that he made his then girlfriend – and now wife – Maike, pregnant. She was in a season when she had drifted away from God. He told her he could only marry her if she committed her life to Jesus – which she did soon afterwards at an emotional service at Harvest Christian Church.
They married and when their son Reece was born he was overwhelmed by God’s grace and the experience of holding somebody in is arms who was his own flesh and blood.
“It made me realise how hard it must have been for my mother to give me up for adoption,” he said.
Thanks to his adoptive parents’ openness about their sons’ adoptions he knew that his parents were about 16-years-old when he was born. He had often wrestled with whether to try and find his biological mom and he now wonder whether she would not want him to find her.
But he shelved those thoughts as he focused on married life and three years later they welcomed their daughter, Lily, into the world – unaware that his biological mother was employed at Greenacres Hospital where both his children were born.
Time to find his mother
Shortly before his 33rd birthday at a time when his adoptive mother was suffering from Parkinson’s disease and his father was battling with depression, he sensed God say it was time to seek his biological mother.
After much prayer he contracted an agency, Uviwe Trust, to undertake the search and then went on a business trip to Durban.
“My aim was just to tell my mom that I am OK, God has been good and thank her for making the right call all those years ago,” he said.
While he was in Durban the agency contacted him to say they had made progress. Things developed fast and soon he sent his mother, Megan, an SMS. She texted him back, saying a missing piece of her heart had been found and that they had been praying for this for years. The SMS ended “Megan and Dave”.
To his surprise he learned that “Dave” was his biological father. His wife did some speedy online research and sent him information about his parents, including the fact that he had two sisters in their early twenties. She also sent pictures and to his amazement he realised his dad was somebody he had met through surfing. He said he was awed to learn that his parents were still together after all those years.
More awesome discoveries followed days later when, after some sleepless nights, he and Maike visited his long-lost family at their home – just minutes away from their own home.
“We met, embraced and obviously there were plenty of emotions! I met my sisters who had just found out two days prior that I even existed. I looked like my mom and dad. The meeting wasn’t awkward, not even for a second.
“They were Christians and had been praying for this moment for years!!”
He got to share his 33rd birthday with his new-found family, and now he and his household regularly spend time with his parents. He has also got to meet grandparents, aunts and uncles – all Christians.
Amidst all the joy there has also been heartache. His adoptive father took his own life two years ago and his adoptive mother died recently. He says he got to lead his mother to the Lord and he also took his father to the Karoo Mighty Men camp a few years ago and hopes that he accepted Christ there.
Malcolm, now 35, has shared his testimony at several churches. Some people have accepted Christ as a result. Others have sought prayer for deep emotional wounds – often relating to family issues.
Calling to share testimony
He feels called to use his testimony of God’s goodness and faithfulness to minister hope and healing wherever doors open. He would love to share his story of God’s goodness with young people struggling with unwanted pregnancies and contemplating abortion. He is also keen to reach out to men.
He said he was grateful to God that his parents chose not to abort him but to have him adopted – effectively placing him in God’s care. He is also amazed and thankful that instead of forgetting about him and getting on with their lives they had kept on praying for him throughout his life. And God had been faithful to his word about his inheritance being in Him – his inheritance was his family who God led him to at the right time.
Malcolm can be contacted at Malcolm.Bailes@bosal.com