When Boland businessman Frans Viljoen launched a company in 2009 with a vision to sow finance into the Kingdom of God he was not prepared for the refining fire that lay ahead.
It was humiliating, his faith plummeted, and at one stage he even considered suicide. “But God was gracious and faithful to lead us through this time to harvest the fruits of our hard labour.”
After 15 years in a business career that left little time for family life, God called Viljoen into ministry in 2000. He finally quitted his secular job in 2006. He organised Global Day of Prayer events at Boland Stadium in Wellington, ran a church-based non-profit organisation and attended Bible school classes. But in 2009 he asked God to put him back into business but with a difference.
“I wanted a job that can finance the Kingdom and testify all over the business spectrum,” he said.
He launched a water purification system company, Aqua King, in June 2009, believing it was the direction that God was giving and in line with Matthew 6:33, a verse that has inspired and challenged him for the past 20 years.
But the business brought him into an unfamiliar industry and things did not go as planned. When the company could eventually no longer pay salaries, Viljoen took out a R200 000 bond on his house in order to pay his staff.
“Needless to say, that was not enough and we felt like a sinking boat. All our fellow workers left and even some took us to the court. This was the most unexpected and bad experience I ever had. I felt like being stabbed in the back and was not emotionally in the best condition,” he said.
During a period of 13 months without a salary, Viljoen and his wife, Mercia, went from enjoying an affluent lifestyle to being helped by generous church friends who supported them with prayer, gifts and food – and even with a fully-paid trip to the United States. During this humbling season they prayed and asked God why he was allowing them to suffer so much when all they were trying to do was to establish a Kingdom business.
“I was in conflict with God due to our circumstances, and could not understand why He let all this happen to us. I even had thoughts and plans of suicide.”
He said he and Mercia, who stood by him throughout the trial, went for counseling several times.
“The Word we got [from God] was to go on and press through.”
Their breakthrough came after God added a talented electronic engineer to their company. Needing bridging capital they met with an investor who told them he had received a prophesy nine years before that he would be involved with a patent.
“So when he heard that we had a patented technology, he was very interested and the meeting was very emotional. We were wiping tears of joy and thankfulness. Our business is expanding by the day and we have got international contracts and we have daily testimonies of God’s provision and His hand over us and under us.”
Reflecting on the road of refinement that he has walked, Viljoen said his counsel to others facing difficulties as they seek to follow God’s leading is: “If you experience heavy attacks just keep on. Breakthrough is very close. This is the last attempt of the enemy to get you off track. Never stop testifying, and don’t wait for the season to change before testifying. Praise God, and be faithful.”
Viljoen has also shared his testimony with Christian workplace initiative Call42 and in an interview with Radio Namakwaland.