Jako Meyer was a self-confessed racist with such a short fuse that he had to run his Karoo farm on his own because no labourers were prepared to work for him.
“They would start working for me and leave on the same day because they could not take my temper,” said Jako in an interview at the recent Karoo Mighty Men Conference.
By the time that Kerneels Beukes arrived on his Middelburg farm wanting to work for him, he had been without help for six years. Kerneels proposed that he start working immediately and that at the end of the month the farmer should pay him according to how much he felt his labour had been worth. It was a deal.
Jako said that Kerneels was like no other labourer he had encountered.
“Whenever I lost my temper and swore he told me there was a better way. He impressed me and gradually my heart began to soften.”
Jako said his wife, Mariana, a committed Christian had been praying for 12 years for his heart to change. But it took a bold and singular farm labourer to start that inner transformation. Kerneels told Jako bluntly that he had been sent by the Holy Spirit to get him saved.
After two months Kerneels asked Jako if he could start a church in one of his outbuildings. But Jako refused, saying he kept his tractor in that building and it would be inconvenient to have to take it out for church services. But he relented after his wife urged him to grant Kerneels’ request.
Around this time Jako heard that evangelist Angus Buchan had told Middelburg farmers that as Christians they should refrain from the occult practice of water divination. Jako said this news upset him because “I was one of the biggest water diviners in the Karoo”.
He discussed the problem with local farmer Jannie Moolman, who hosted the 2011 and 2012 Karoo Mighty Men Conferences on his farm. Jannie advised him to rather ask God to show him where to find water. Jako said he discussed the matter with Kerneels. Later he had a dream in which God showed him the precise location of some water — a certain number of paces between a dry willow tree and a fence post. In the early hours of the morning he went to the spot and sunk a length of square metal tubing there.
Jako said that at 7am that morning Kerneels told him that the Lord had told him where to find water. Jako told Kerneels to put a metal fence dropper into the ground at the spot. When Kerneels put his dropper into the ground there was a metallic clinking sound as his dropper struck Jako’s square tubing!
Jako was deeply moved by God’s miraculous direction of both men to precisely the same spot and he was ready to receive Jesus as his saviour. Kerneels led him in a prayer of salvation. Later they drilled for water in the place that God had indicated and today the borehole delivers 100 000 litres an hour — more than enough for the farm.
Jako’s life has changed dramatically. He has served on the Karoo Mighty Men Committee for the past two years. He has been totally set free of racism. He said Kerneels still worked on his farm. “But we are no longer ‘Baas and Klaas’. We are partners and brothers.” And Kerneels’ tractor shed church has swelled from three to 70 members.