Port Elizabeth lay pastor Shawn Swiegelaar and his wife Michelle had all but given up hope of having children. But then God spoke to Shawn at the Karoo Mighty Men.
This is Shawn’s testimony.
“I have been married for 18 years now and both my wife (Michelle) and I are in our early 40s and have been wanting kids for as long as I can remember. Almost seven years ago whilst still residing in East London, we found out Michelle was pregnant; we were over the moon and so were our families. However eight weeks in we lost the baby and it was then that I felt furthest from God. At that time I was serving in the deliverance ministry as a helper at Quigney Baptist. I fought with God and had so many questions that eventually I found myself drifting back into my old ways…….. But God had a plan and purpose for me!
“In 2008 I was transferred back to PE and this is where I met up with Pastor Shane Saunders, an old high school friend of mine. It was not until around 2010 that I really started attending church full time again and soon I was back on fire and God was using me for His Kingdom.
“In 2013 I was invited to [the Karoo] Mighty Men by a new friend I had made in the biking circles and it was so strange, as I had been wanting to go for the last two years but there was always and event or happening that kept me from going. This time I set everything aside, well Wow I was so inspired and in awe that I decided then and there that this would be an annual event for me.
“Well 2014 rolled on and I was ready to go. this time however I had an expectancy but I could not place my finger of what or why! Friday evening we arrived a little late so we did not attend the worship service and the time Saturday morning came it was like having ants in my pants, I just wanted to get to the site.
“I felt so close to God with every worship song and was so blessed with every speaker, yet my spirit still had this expectancy. I prayed and got an Answer from God of Twenty (20)……… I had no clue as to why this number and again after some prayer time I realised that God wanted me to bring 20 men to Mighty Men in 2015. I was searching for confirmation and there it was; at lunch time on the Saturday there was an announcement that all church leaders and representatives were invited to attend a meeting at the HQ. There it was — my confirmation: the speaker asked that as leaders we should try to bring the men from our church, the focus for 2015 must be that every man in our church attend… Wow, God is good!
“To backtrack a little in regards to Michelle and I having children — well by this time we had accepted the fact that we would not have kids and we had settled into our lifestyle. That Saturday afternoon after lunch two fathers more or less my age came to sit next to me and each of them had his son with him. I was watching the boys play at their fathers’ feet and it was during this time that I started talking to God. I wanted to know why we did not have kids; surely there must be a reason???
“Nothing, no word, just silence.
“That evening the father and sons again ended up next to me and during Worship as I was watching them play, my heart was saddened and again I asked GOD…… nothing.
“Joe Niemand then came up and was singing a few of his songs from his new CD. He announced that he normally does not sing other artists’ songs but that a friend of his kept asking him to do this song and he felt so led that he even added it to his new CD. The song — ‘In the Stillness’! Man I wept as I realised I needed to stop nagging God and that I needed to accept His plan for my life. Well it wss as if He was standing next to me. I could hear GOD say: ‘Next time this year you will be a Father’…. I was so shocked I asked God again and again heard the words ‘Next time this year you will be a father’. The rest of the evening I was so emotional I had to keep myself from weeping. And even as Johnny Louw spoke on how we had to go through Jesus to get to God, I realised I had to go through what I was facing and seek God first and then my every need would be met according to His will.
“That Saturday evening in the B&B I could not sleep. I was now wondering how this [becoming a father] was going to happen as Michelle and I, as I mentioned, are 40+ and complications can arise at this age during pregnancies. And again I had to just leave it in God’s hands and not keep figuring it out with my carnal mind.
“During the service on Sunday I went and sat at the foot of the mountain and there I just thanked God for His goodness and mercy. I even did my first baptism at Mighty Men that Sunday morning.
“I said nothing to anybody and even on the ride home my friends asked why I was so quiet. You see satan was trying to steal this word I had received and I was scared of saying anything as so many times before I had received a word from another brother with regards to us going to have children and then nothing [came of it]. What I failed to realise was that this time the word was from God, directly to me. At home I said nothing to my wife but two Sundays later I could no longer do this and I spoke to my pastor, he said that if I wanted to receive God’s blessing I needed to put this into action and speak my testimony. Not only should I speak it but I should live it and trust God for His word to come to pass.
“After church on the drive home I told my wife and even played her the song from Joe’s CD. It was a very emotional drive and even Michelle was questioning ‘How?’ All I said was we needed to trust in God for His timing.
“Two weeks later I was preaching and I was led to bring my testimony as to what had happened at Mighty Men and even here I said I was not sure how but that I trusted in God for His will to take place.
‘There was God’s plan!’
“About eight weeks ago I was having a braai with my friends when my pastor called and asked me to come down. I said I was at a braai and arranged to meet him after church on Sunday. On Sunday afternoon I went to his home along with Michelle as he had requested us to come together. He told us that a family who attend our church had brought along a friend and that she had a grandson they could no longer afford to look after. The lady wanted to know if we would be willing to adopt him…. Bam! There was God’s plan!
“At first we did not know how to react. Michell and I were both in shock. I went to meet the lady and she informed me that on the Sunday I preached she had attended our church for the first time. She went to church that Sunday to hear from God as to what she needed to do with her grandson as she (her and her daughter) could no longer afford to care for the little boy. She said after hearing my testimony and seeing Michelle cry in church she felt God tell her that this is what she needed to do. This was her answer…….”
Thereafter a process began which Shawn believes is the unfolding of God’s will.
First they began taking the little 3-year-old boy, Rayden, home every Sunday after church. Then Rayden spent a night with them and then an entire weekend — after which he did not even want to go home.
Shawn and Michelle met with a social worker and then wen to court where the little boy’s mom signed the paperwork to inform the court that she is willing to let the Swiegelaar’s adopt him. She was granted 60 days to withdraw her decision should she wish.
On Friday, September 5 Rayden was officially placed into Shawn and Michelle’s care pending the finalisation of the adoption.
“I believe this is God’s will that all will go well,” says Shawn.