Episode 3 in a weekly series in which music industry personality and Worship South Africa exco member Julita Kok reports back on a recent SA road trip in which she handed the steering wheel over to Jesus
As you know by now, reading my stories, I went on an 8- week trip around South Africa. I was a “coddiwompler” for Jesus. To coddiwomple is to travel purposefully toward an as-yet-unknown destination. Exactly what I did. Not always knowing where I would end up sleeping or staying the next night. But there was one thing I asked the Lord. To understand this, I need to backtrack a little.
We all have bucket lists. One of the items on mine was to do the 5-day hike between Coffee Bay and Port St Johns. A hike along the cliffs and forests of the Wild Coast, in the heart of the Transkei!! What a splendorous adventure!!
And those who know me will tell you that I am a sucker for adventure. So, while looking at the map of South Africa, I saw that I would be in that area during my travels. Now, firstly….please do not be fooled by maps. It all looks so close until you start traveling the road and distances. I thought I was two hours away (which I actually was) but I did not take into account that I had to travel back to the N2 and then travel our famous Transkei roads, shared by goats, sheep, cattle, taxis and potholes. So what could be a 2-hour drive if I could have travelled straight became a 7-hour drive. Keep this in the back of your mind. Seven hours of very strenuous travel.
I asked God for a birthday gift. I wanted to do this hike round my birthday, the 17th of December, because I would be in that area, I had time, it was my birthday and I always wanted to do this. Enough reason for God to allow me some personal time.
Eish, Julita!!! When will you learn!! I even asked Him for the funds to travel there, stay overnight, the hike itself and for my car to stay there for five days and then of course the taxi money to travel back from Coffee Bay to Port St Johns to get to my car again. And, I had no doubt as He provided me with all the funds. As we good Christians would say….perfect confirmation. Where He leads He provides. Or so I thought.
After a very, but very, nerve-wracking trip to Port St Johns, I finally arriveD after seven hours on the road. At least it was quite beautiful and I could even have bought some dagga on the road if I wanted to. Kids selling dagga as we sell sunglasses at our traffic lights. But what a beautiful place Port St Johns!!
I stayed overnight in a backpackers where I would also leave my car for the duration of the hike and then I would stay over another night when I returned from the hike to pick up my car.
Next morning, I was so excited about this hike. A dream come true!! I thanked God for the provision and was happy to learn that we were a group os six people and a tour guide on the hike. We had all the introductions and the do’s and don’t’s and we checked our water supply and put on some insect repellent and sunscreen, hats, thick socks with our hiking boots…..all of it!!! Ready to go!! I paid in cash and felt like I owned the whole world. So happy to be right there at that very moment.
So we set off and right from the beginning, I was not disappointed. Those of you who saw the movie King Kong will remember the island. This looked exactly like that. It was spectacular. We walked through our first river and within an hour I had already finished a litre of water. It was hot beyond anything.
Now, let me just explain what happens on this hike. You hike for six hours and then stay over with locals in their huts along the way. There are no roads. So, if something happens, only the locals can help you. No cars or taxis or ambulance that can come to help. They will have to send a helicopter if someone gets hurt. Absolutely cut off from everything — even cell phones.
Two hours into the hike, I suddenly felt the grace of God lifting for this hike and I knew, I was not supposed to be there. At first I thought I was suffering from heat stroke, but the further I walked, the more I become aware that I was not supposed to be on this hike.
So I had to make a choice. I knew that my decision would impact this group tremendously. If I turned back, the guide would needs to accompany me back for two hours and then return to the rest of the group. So that would be taking four hours out of their hike. They could not continue without the guide and I could not turn back without the guide. What time would they reach their destination?? Would they have enough water?? I knew they were going to be so angry!
All these things were going through my mind, but I knew, for me to continue when the Holy Spirit had lifted His grace……no thank you. Then I just did not want to be there. So I called out to the guide and inform the group that I wanted to turn back.
“No, we will walk slower”. “I will carry your backpack,” another one said. Nope, I explained. I said I was not supposed to be here. I was turning back. Let us just say that it was not a proud moment and not a nice experience at all. Everyone was upset. Especially the guide because he understood the impact of my decision. But I also knew that God would take care of them.
So, on my way back I realised that the desire to do this hike had completely vanished. There was no desire in my heart to do this at all anymore. And during the two hours back I was in conversation with God, trying to make sense of it all. He had provided me the money. Biggest confirmation, right? There was a spot for me on the hike even though I only had given two days’ notice that I would join. All confirmations, according to me. And yet, here I was on my way back, knowing that God did not want me to continue this hike.
Long story short, I reached the backpacker’s again. The owner of the hikes even refunded me some of the money (which I did not expect) and the backpackers refunded me for the stay of the car.
So, that evening I went to the local pub to have dinner and I was the only customer. In the beautiful Port St Johns with its limited resources. I placed my order with the waitress and started yet another conversation with God concerning all of this. I simply did not understand what happened and why I was here.
So, I asked: “Lord, what then am I doing here? I spent a lot of time travelling, spent a lot of unnecessary money and wasted time actually. What am I doing here and why, then, did You allow me to come? “
The waitress brought my coffee and at that moment God said: ”Ask her what she is doing here.” So, I asked: “Sipho (as per her name tag), what are you doing here?” She looked at me and told me she was a waitress. “I know that, but what are you doing here in Port St Johns as a waitress?” And then the story unfolded of how she believed God did not make her dreams come true. A UCT Business graduate; came 3rd in an entrepreneurs competition and never received the money to start her own business.
So, of course, I immediately knew what I was doing in Port St Johns. All of my “trouble” and expenses for this one “stray” sheep. I asked Sipho what she had in her hands and at first she did not know what I meant but as I continued to explain and asked her questions, I saw the light of understanding coming into her eyes. And she started embracing the different plans and opportunities I presented to her that could be followed without having money in her hand.
When I left the pub I saw the light of hope shining bright in Sipho’s eyes and I knew for certain that she saw her own potential as God sees it. And this is more than enough to make a start. He will do the miraculous; she just needed to decide and to see. If you can see it, it is yours.
I left Port St Johns tackling the treacherous Transkei roads again but this time so happy as I knew, someone had discovered hope again and their faith in God was renewed. Sipho knew for certain that God had not forgotten about her.
And here is the interesting part. God allowed me for four hours to hike the jungle and the Wild Coast and that was more than enough. I saw, I experienced and I was satisfied. I had no desire to do the 5-day hike anymore. It left me completely. In other words, I did not feel as if I had missed out on something. In fact, I saw a life changed from feeling hopeless to having dreams in her eyes. And that, my friends, is worth much more than a 5-day hike in the jungle.
Let me tell you something. Jesus died for people. Individuals. His is a personal story; a relational God. You and I, we matter to Him. Never forget that.
I left Port St Johns so happy and fulfilled. He had once again taken me on an adventure. This time through the beautiful jungles of the Wild Coast. What a God!! I could only imagine what the rest of my journey would be like. Never expected what happened next…