Margaret Ferguson, a former teacher and politician in the United Kingdom, shares her testimony of being called by God to move to South Africa 18 years ago — and a word God has given her for her adopted country while under lockdown in her apartment in Cape Town. Ferguson, who has travelled widely and was married to a Royal Navy officer, turned 80 in December.
Called to SA
I will first give some history as to why I, as a British citizen, have been in South Africa since my early 60s. I am here because God told me to settle here. Having done a 6-month mission stint in South Africa , at the end I was shown to buy property here, which was against all the odds with regard to my personal situation, and with no rights of residency; just a missionary visa.
But I did it, went back to UK and sold my possessions, returning here 6 months later. I add that I do NOT have any family here. There have been a number of difficulties and times when I felt that I wanted to return to the UK, my homeland. But thankfully I always turned to God and He never said that I could return to UK. So, here I remained, trusting Him, but very aware that God had not brought me here without a purpose which He would reveal in His timing
A testing time
I have learned that we do not always move straight into our calling and we do a probationary period where God is teaching us holistically — both the practical and the spiritual, while using our past experience. He wastes nothing. I have political experience outside South Africa and God uses this to give me insights and awareness nationally in South Africa. He dramatically confirmed in front of the congregation in my local church that my calling was for the nation of South Africa
Sometimes that probationary period can be lengthy and that is where our faith comes in. Joseph did a lengthy testing time and suffered much before he stepped into God’s ultimate purposes in Egypt, which of course was not his homeland. In 2015 I self- published a book, specifically for South Africa called A Sense of Community;
In 2018 I finally obtained permanent residency through the High Court, having applied to Home Affairs in 2007. Added to this, I was getting older and the natural me often wondered if I would be dead before God’s purposes came to pass, whatever they were! Again I had to stand in faith.
And now! I had a ticket booked to visit the UK at the end of March and despite — or perhaps, because of — Covid 19, I was determined to go. I logically worked out that I would be better off in the UK with friends, with its better health care system and protocols but God thought otherwise!
A week before I was due to leave President Ramaphosa said that the borders were being closed and air flights were being cancelled. He added with regard to the UK that if we went there we would only be allowed to return if we were SA citizens and then we would have to go into quarantine. He urged us to avoid travelling to the UK if at all possible.
Reluctantly, I asked God what He wanted. He said: “Submit yourself to the authorities (Romans 13 v 1 – 5).” As I read the pertinent Scripture, I felt the first part was fine — that was to do with obeying regulations as far as I was concerned. But the point at which the Scripture impacted me was verse 5. “It is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience.”
President Ramaphosa had asked that if possible we should not visit UK; it was not a regulation but a request and that was where conscience over the authorities came in. So I knew that I must cancel my flight. However, as I do sometimes with my personality, I had a “rant” at God for making me stay in South Africa! But he said so quietly: “I want you to go through this with the South Africans. ”
So, here I am having cancelled my flight the next day. Due to circumstances I learned that I could book a ticket up to 12 month henceforth, whenever I wanted. That was a bonus I had not expected.
I realised that, having obeyed God and remained here, He had a purpose in it and it was likely to be a roller coaster ride! Within a few days of the lockdown I developed a major problem with a badly broken tooth on a Friday. I had never had a problem with this tooth before but the pain grew worse until on Monday at 5am I again put an analgaesic tablet on the tooth, knowing that I intended to contact my dentist, anticipating an extraction.
At 9am I phoned his surgery and someone happened to answer the phone to say that he was not working until the lockdown was over. I had some emergency numbers but did not feel that I should contact them but should rather wait and see if, in answer to prayer by myself and others, God intervened. I decided to wait until the afternoon when I knew that the effect of the painkiller would have worn off.
When the afternoon came the pain of the tooth and from the gum inflammation was improved; there was sensitivity but by next morning the problem was gone. We have an 11th-hour God! Praise the Lord.
Why did God do this I asked; and I sensed that He needed to “set the scene” so to speak; that He was very much going to reveal himself to me during this lockdown. And so he has!
A message for SA
For some considerable time before Covid-19 hit South African shores, I repeatedly became very conscious that for South Africa to move on, it had to leave its past behind. It was fundamental. This conviction was sometimes so strong that I would firmly share it with people. It made practical sense but it needed to be more than that for it to have purpose. Eventually – overwhelmed — I had to see if this was God speaking to me. So at the end of April I asked God if it was Him giving me this repeated awareness or to “take it away”. I immediately heard a voice saying: “Lot’s wife.”
Looking up the Genesis story of Sodom and Gomorrah was a revelation to me concerning South Africa. It is clearly God’s instruction that for God to bless this nation, it must not look back. Looking back would be its failure and paralysis; like Lot’s wife being turned into a pillar of salt when she looked back.
God showed me that the reluctance of Lot to leave Sodom was related to the Church needing to be the forerunner in “not looking back”. God, through the angels, had to take Lot out of Sodom, so that he could destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. So Lot’s attitude is a warning to the Church. Be obedient and not reluctant.
Like Sodom and Gomorrah, He wants to burn up the rubbish of the past in South Africa but in order to do so, the Church must take the lead and God will do the rest in the nation. When we are obedient, we can trust God to honour that.
A few days later I asked God if he had more to tell me. He then reminded me of a Word he gave me for my church congregation several years ago. It was that South Africa, like the Israelites in the time of Moses, had been wandering around in the desert for long enough but now South Africa had its Red Sea to cross before it could reach the Promised land of a successful future.
He also said that he would raise up a leader to take South Africa across its Red Sea. No doubt you can see the connection. “Not looking back” is South Africa’s Red Sea moment.
God issued a warning to the Israelites in the wilderness when they grumbled and said they would be better off if they had not left Egypt. They were looking back, so South Africa, be warned.
And what of the Israelietes’ authoritarian former political masters – as the Israelites stepped into the Red Sea, God dealt with the Egyptians by destroying Pharaoh and his army. South Africa has no reason to fear if it obeys God.
During the lockdown God has given me revelation knowledge and discernment. I live alone so it could have been a difficult time but actually it has been an exciting time. However one of my concerns has been the lack of discernment in His people as they face a barrage of information , videos, prophecies, etc. in their mail boxes resulting in confusion.
I have found myself answering people’s concerns and teaching an important truth; don’t take things at face value. But recognise the need for spiritual discernment that can only come out of knowing the fullness of the Holy Spirit in one’s life (together with guidance initially).
I described it as a bit like learning to ride a bicycle, really! I also pointed out that at this dramatic time in South Africa’s history, we need to have spiritual discernment not only concerning prophecy and other apparent godly messages but also concerning secular messages coming to us. “Do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits and see if they be of God” — 1 John 4 v1.
The devil is wily and would subtly seek to lead South African Christians astray and I see this time as a great sifting out of the Church of Christ. I DO believe that God has His hand on South Africa in a special plan. The world may see South Africa as a failure but God can and does take the weak and failing things and in His hands turns them into success.
I thank God that He has given me much revelation about South Africa during this lockdown, particularly in connection with national and current affairs.
Remember the repeated prophecy over South Africa going back about 100 years. Great revival would start in the southernmost part of Africa and in its southernmost tip and then spread across Africa; then Africa would go out and evangelise the nations. As a resident of Cape Town that says something significant to me.
“Be still and know that I am God….. I am the Lord that healeth thee.”
God bless South Africa.