Our big God adventure: Episode 4 — Countdown to Kenya

2001 — Wilco and our children and the vehicles that Abba provided

Episode 3 ends with the news that the Venter family finally left for Kenya on August 27 2001. In this episode Lydia shares on God’s faithful provision during the final countdown to the trip

Waiting and preparing for the realisation of the vision to go to Kenya is probably best likened to a pregnancy. At the turn of the century, we could sense things in the Spirit were “growing bigger” and the urgency in our hearts to “deliver this baby” grew more intense.

On Sunday, the 9th of April 2000, I wrote in my diary: “Lord, we desire to follow Your heart. You’ve given Your life for the people of the nations of this earth and we must obey Your call for Kenya. You’ve stirred our hearts … we know that the day to depart is slowly drawing near.”

In early 2001 we suddenly knew: “This is it!” and so at the beginning of February Wilco put in his resignation at Kloof Gold Mine. Murray and Christine Louw of Radio Pulpit used to give out a news bulletin with national and international vacancies for missionaries, so one day we saw that African Missions WAS looking for lecturers at the Njoro Bible College in Kenya. We applied and on the 11th of May we headed to Pretoria for the interview with Ron and Rina Kinnear. We were accepted!

At the time, when receiving Wilco’s pension money, we were staying in a small flat on someone’s property. After paying off our debt we had R75 000 ($5 065) left which was to sustain us while waiting for our work permit, buy us a vehicle, a trailer and get us to Kenya. We literally spent weeks, and drove hundreds of kilometres, but couldn’t find a 4×4 in our price range.

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One day, after being in Vereeniging the whole day going from motor bazaar to motor bazaar, we – tired and disheartened – finally headed home as it was getting late. Of course, this was before Google Maps, so on our way to the highway Wilco got slightly lost and we found ourselves in this obscure little street in the Industrial Area. As I was looking out of the window, I suddenly saw a vehicle for sale in a compound. Although the guy had a few more cars at the back, there was no sign to indicate that he was, indeed, a car dealer. We stopped. Went in. Saw that it was a 1993 Nissan Hard Body 3.0 V6 in a very good condition and with its full service history. We asked the guy how much. “R29,000 ($1,959),” he said, “But because it’s cash, we can make it R27,000 ($1,823) …” W-O-W, W-O-W, W-O-W!! This was at least half of the price of all the other vehicles we had seen.

August 2001 — Church in Toekomsrus sending us off

Four days later God provided us with a Yamaha XT200 Scrambler with only 5 000 kms on the clock at R8 500 ($574) and a 1-ton trailer that we got for only R8 000 ($540). Everything at the end costed us only R43 500 ($2,938). Praise Jehovah Jireh, the Faithful One, Our Provider. The Nissan would eventually serve us well for more than 10 years, going into the most remote areas — on one occasion carrying 19 people to a conference in a place where there was no public transport. The Yamaha, we still have and, although it’s currently non-operational, Wilco is in the process of wanting to fix it. It has literally taken him to places where vehicles could not pass. How thankful we are to the Lord Who knew exactly what will be needed in Kenya.

One evening we were visiting veteran missionaries Charles and Werna Haupt, and as I was standing with her in the kitchen while she was preparing coffee, she suddenly turned around and said: “The Lord says that your children will open up the highways and byways for you in Africa.” Little did we know how accurate those words would be and what a significant role it would play, specifically in our entry to Kenya.

In the meantime our work permit hadn’t been approved yet and we also had no available funds to take out a “Carnet de Passage!. Wilco wanted us to leave South Africa by faith, but because I had heard horror stories of people’s vehicles and belongings confiscated at the Namanga Border crossing into Kenya from Tanzania, I refused and insisted we wait for our work permit to come through.

One Thursday morning on the 23rd of August, I was having a bath when God suddenly asked me whether I trusted Him. “You know I do, Lord,” I answered. “Yet you trust the Government of Kenya more! I’m the One Who has called you, and now you’re waiting for their approval.” I felt how the conviction of Holy Spirit rose in my heart and how the fear around our journey diminished.

When Wilco returned home, I welcomed him with the words: “We’re leaving on Monday!” He was overwhelmed with joy! We didn’t have access to internet, and so we couldn’t really let people know about our sudden decision. On that Saturday a missionary from Madagascar phoned us. She didn’t have money for the call, but managed to say these few words before the line went dead: “The God who had called you, is faithful!”

27 Aug 2001 — Our children and friend Jaco Combrinck on board as we finally leave South Africa

On Sunday, as our friends from Christian Life Family Ministries in Toekomsrus prayed for our journey ahead, the pastor’s wife, Candice, felt that the Lord was telling us that the Njoro Bible College would not be our destiny, but that it would merely serve as a platform to get us established in Kenya. Again, it was only later that we realised how accurate this word would prove to be. That night the community helped us to pack the last bit of stuff in our new trailer. Our young friend and brother, Jaco Combrink, had felt months before that he was to travel with us and then fly back home after helping us to settle in. What a blessing and comfort that too had been.

On that Monday, the 27th of August, we finally left. In the next episode I’ll share about God’s protection and providence as we embarked on a nine-day journey to Kenya and the beginning of the most amazing God-adventure we could ever imagine.

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