Book Review by Lawrie Wilmot
JOHN HUDDLESTONE — A VISION: YOU MAKE IT HAPPEN
This is the story of a man who has had a dream; and it tells of how the Lord, through His gracious provision and guidance, has enabled John to see his dream starting to take shape in reality. It has demanded much perseverance and hard work, and although it has not yet been fulfilled, it is a dream that has already drawn many others to become involved. It demonstrates the truth that anything that is of the Lord, if it is motivated by love and passion, will succeed.
Here is John’s description of it: “ I have a dream. That cities like Port Elizabeth, and countries like South Africa, can be changed by praying for and helping specific townships, and concentrating those efforts. I dream that the world can be changed through the miraculous South Africa of the future. The bloodshed that happened in Bosnia and Rwanda should have happened here.
Vison of hope
All it will take is for many of the privileged to spend more time in the townships. Experience firsthand the hardship and suffering: support community projects, and so realise that we can be part of a creative miracle. A miracle that will create sufficient jobs, and bring hope to the hopeless majority. We all need to believe and have faith that the miracle can happen, and I believe it will!”
John’s book is an autobiography. He is a helicopter pilot who received his training to fly both fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters in the Air Force. As an ex-pilot myself, and having served in the Air Force, I was able to relate to John’s description of his time there.
How John’s career developed thereafter is a story shot through with evidence of the Lord’s hand at work, even when John was ‘flying solo’, that is, living his life without reference to God and following his own plans and inclinations. And yet, even when he suffered the collapse of his business and a career-threatening injury, Jesus was ‘in the cockpit’ with him.
During a flying career of over 20 000 hours John has had plenty of time to pray and to think. Being always conscious of the fact that he had been so privileged to follow his heart’s desire, he began to want to bless others in some way, but wasn’t sure how to do it.
The breakthrough came on the November 1, 1989, when he gave his life to Jesus. John describes it like this: “ I was invited to a fellowship meeting. During the service the pastor mentioned that someone there that day had reached the end of the road. I knew it was me, and when the invitation came to surrender one’s life to Jesus, my hand shot up. That day I took a step of faith that I knew I had been putting off for 15 years.”
Although his life had turned around spiritually John still had to battle to keep his head above water financially. Things continued to be tough, mainly as a consequence of mistakes and bad decisions, but gradually, as he learnt to live by faith, everything started to improve. All the while he continued to dream and plan.
After the miracle of the peaceful transition to democracy that South Africa experienced in 1994, John’s desire burned ever more brightly. He longed to see South Africans of all races living in harmony. Eventually the Lord convinced him that the way for him to work at achieving it was to put himself in a position where he could understand the plight of township dwellers. He realised that even though they were now free politically, his first priority was to do what he could to set them free spiritually. This would entail preaching the Gospel and, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to ask Jesus to deal with their sins and hurts.
Ministry took shape
In and through all the testing he was experiencing John began once more to be blessed by the Lord, both materially and spiritually, as he sought to live in obedience to Him. His ministry took shape, and even though his helicopter charter business continued to struggle and he sustained serious injury in a flying accident, John was more determined than ever to pursue his dream.
In 1997 he joined Harvest Church in Walmer. There he met Brian Cutting, a man who also had a heart for evangelising Walmer township. In Brian’s truck they began to do outreaches. The ministry grew and others joined in.
In 2003 the Lord brought John a powerful prophecy via a local pastor, which was to give him fresh energy and direction. It said in effect that the Lord was now doing a new thing in Walmer; that all that John had believed Him for He would do, and much more; that He would anoint and bless Walmer; and that the seeds sown in their ministry would produce a great harvest.
Since then John, working together with many other people, churches and organisations, has seen the prophecy being realised. Although his business career has placed many demands on his time he has been able to spend more time in Walmer. Since 2010 he has worked ever more closely with Trevor Jennings, who as a member of Walmer Methodist Church has been part of that church’s Walmer Township Transformation Project, which aims to initiate and coordinate noticeable and effective changes in it. John has warmed especially to Trevor’s sentiment, namely “ If Walmer township, which appears to have the highest crime, aids infection and unemployment rates in Port Elizabeth can be transformed, then so can any area in South Africa.”
Priority of prayer
All through his book John emphasises the priority of prayer, recognising that the spiritual battle must be won first of all. He pays special tribute to the late Alan Stansbury, an Anglican pastor whom I served with, who made the people of Walmer township a special priority in his ministry, providing the poor with both food and the Gospel.
In closing his book, John calls on us all to live out our passions and our dreams. His own example is inspiring and practical, and as an ordinary man he has shown what is possible with a God-given vision before us and the fire of the Holy Spirit within. Pilots are people who can think and express themselves clearly in as few words as possible, and in this short book John has done just that. He has set out for us practical, hands-on suggestions for ministry based on his experience. I heartily recommend this book, which is obtainable direct from John at firstname.lastname@example.org or 041-507 7343 or 083 653 4294.