[notice]Eastern Cape farmer and pastor Rob Wardle shares an amazing personal testimony of God’s faithfulness to His promises and declarations — and to His impact on a community that is pursuing life in Him.[/notice]
The story begins with my daughter Abigail, and a deep impress from the Lord that we needed to send her to Bethel so that she could attend her first year of BSSM [Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry] in Redding, California. To cut a long story short a number of events had to take place for her to get there, the first being for her to hear for herself that this was the right thing to do. Then it was the finances and so as a bi-vocational pastor / farmer I decided to sell 20 mature beef cows and pay for her tuition and board in the US. As you can imagine studying in America doesn’t come cheaply.
She was to register in the September of 2013 and my wife Bev and I took her over to settle her in and visit Bethel at the same time. It was here that the fun began with many encouraging and confirming prophecies and prayers for us all. One in particular stands out as we were attending an evening service on the Sunday before returning to SA. A stranger in front of us turned and declared: ”Sir, I have no idea who you are but the Father asks me to share with you that there will be abundant rain on the land and pastures, and it is a very physical picture I see.” At the same time a Texan lady, sitting next to Bev, takes off her beautiful watch and gives it to her declaring: “The Lord says to tell you that whenever you look at this watch remember it is NOT THE TIME to despise small beginnings.”
This man had no way of knowing that I had just taken back all my farms that I had been hiring out, in order to reestablish the farming enterprise. He also would not know that while we were on our flight back to SA, a huge electric storm struck the farms, situated in the Cathcart area of the Eastern Cape, and 2 500ha of the 3 000 ha we farm on, went up in smoke. Over 30 cows died in the blaze and we returned home to smouldering devastation.
At this point I also had not joined the dots until a friend who had heard the bad news, called to remind me to remember the prophecy, “…abundant rain on the land.” I grabbed a hold of the word and made a public declaration to my fellow farmers not to worry because God had promised there would be abundant rain. Little did I know that 6 weeks would go by with no rain. At the end of October my neighbour came over to remind me what I had said and by now I was pretty broken. Drought, no grazing left for the stock, lambs and calves going hungry and the dry cold East wind blowing across the Amathole Mountains did not bode well for us. I quietly turned to my friend and replied: ”Well David His Word and Promise is all I have got….I have no back doors and so I am going to choose to believe Him.”
Three days later the heavens broke and abundant rain began to soak the land. By the end of February 2014 we had had the equivalent of our annual rainfall and this in only 4 months. What an amazing fulfillment to a promise. The farms were transformed with fresh lush grazing, better than what we had before.
“I will show you My Glory…”
So we finished up our 6 months of sabbatical at the end of December 2013 and returned to our pastoring job at the Gateway Community Church in Tarkastad. The first few days back I enquired of the Lord as to his amazing Kindness and Generosity and then I clearly sensed Him say: “I will show you My Glory by allowing my Goodness to pass before you.” The first Sunday back I preached this news to the church as I related the story of Moses who had asked to see the Glory of the Lord. Was I in for a surprise?!!
By the Wednesday of that following week I received a call to say that my daughter’s second year of Bethel BSSM would be paid for. My wife and I were blown away by His generosity but He still had more to show us. The following morning a friend of mine from Natal phoned to say that their family had been meaning to get in touch with me to tell me that they had heard of our devastating fires and that they had a bunch of cows they wanted to give us. GUESS HOW MANY!!! 20….the exact number I had sold to pay for that first year. This was like a R200 000 gift in 24 hours and I was humbled by His extravagance towards us. But that’s not all. As I shared this great testimony on Sunday with the church, we no sooner had returned home for lunch, when I received a call to say that our church school had received a gift of R 800 000 towards new classrooms we were trusting the Lord for.
You have no idea how this raised the levels of faith in the community. A promise…abundant rain….a declaration followed by extravagant goodness towards us all. Needless to say I was off on my horse and shared this testimony wherever I was afforded the opportunity to share and preach.
Disaster and promise
Oh how the lofty shall fall!!!! End of March the news reached us of a tragedy that was unfolding back at our farms in the Cathcart District. Our herd of weaner calves that we were about to sell got acorn poisoning as they grazed under the oak trees and they rapidly started to die. By the time this saga had run its course we had lost 87 out of 200 calves. How could this be happening after the promises and experiences we had been through? Once again we were in a struggle for our livelihood and as we brought this before the church family, they turned earnestly to prayer. In the midst of a session where the entire family had gathered around us to pray a promise broke through again: “I will restore that which the enemy has tried to rob you of. Have Faith”
I must admit that I was too gutted to try and even think how this would happen. That was until the trickle started to flow back onto the farm. First it was two neighbors who arrived with a few calves on a trailer, “….heard the news and wanted to help you out, Boet.” Soon it was a stream of one’s, two’s and even ten’s. 47 of the 87 calves where returned within the first month from family friends and neighbors and just when I felt totally overwhelmed by the fulfillment of this promise 20 calves arrived from Natal. To date we have received 67 calves back.
This incredible story continues to unfold. We went on to purchase and build our new church building in 2014, a vision that had been in the waiting for 10 years. This, of course, happened debt free and we can only stand amazed that when God makes a declaration and a promise you can stand sure that it will come to pass. This community has lived in the goodness of that and we have seen His glory.
More importantly, however, is what it does for a people as they pursue a life in Him which allows us to live in His presence continuously. This is our longing. His Face, His Glory, His Presence. It’s out of this atmosphere that all things are possible. Thank you Jesus!!