Vlooi completes his journey and another crosswalker approaches from north
The arid Karoo veld has been converted into a fertile field of prayer for the thousands of men who will converge from all over South Africa – from Addo and Benoni to Yzerfontein and Zeerust – on the Karoo Mighty Men Conference 2014 (KMMC).
KMMC organisers believe those attending the conference, which is taking place this weekend from April 25 to 27 2014, will personally experience the presence of God in the vast calm and quiet of the Karoo on the edge of the Sneeuberg mountain range.
Certainly, it is not difficult to be aware of the divine in the seemingly limitless environment of space and stillness with the amphitheatre-like backdrop of Rhenosterberg rising majestically out of the Karoo “vlaktes”.
And if the sense of freedom, silence and majesty are not enough, then the never-ending clarity of the myriad stars at night are sure to humble even the most proud sceptic into a feeling of relative insignificance and heavenly awe.
Indeed, this is a venue fitting for the worship of God’s glory, and for expressing gratitude for His creation. It is a setting that silently speaks of the timeless and infinity – of something greater than our material knowledge or experience.
Among the crowd of thousands, are two men who each walked hundreds of kilometres carrying a cross with the aim of glorifying God on their journeys to be part of KMMC 2014. Perhaps symbolically, one travelled from the north and one from the south, each unaware of the other’s journey.
Theo (Vlooi) Terblanche completed a 500km “Celebration Journey” of faith on foot from his home in Plettenberg Bay to KMMC 2014 without seconding support, back-up vehicles or sponsorship, to praise God’s grace by which he experienced salvation a year ago at the KMMC 2013.
The 59-year-old says although he was brought up in a Christian family and even became a deacon in a church, as an adult he fell into a life of alcohol abuse, criminal activities and unfaithfulness to his wife.
Then some friends invited Vlooi to join them on a trip to KMMC 2013.
“I wasn’t keen, but eventually conceded, because they said it would be a camping weekend in the Karoo and I could take alcohol.
“However, I had no idea, nor could I have imagined in my wildest dreams, what God had prepared for me.
“By the time we drove through Uniondale on the way to the KMMC, I was already drunk and stopped the car to buy more alcohol for the rest of the trip.
“After arriving at KMMC I had a few more drinks to fortify myself before we went to listen to the first speaker.
“Nevertheless, that night of the 28th April 2013 I had the most miraculous experience when I accepted Jesus Christ as my saviour, which turned my life around and immediately set me free from addictions,” explains Vlooi.
“On returning to the tent I poured out all my alcohol and when I returned home I asked my wife to forgive me, admitted to sexual and criminal misconduct and apologised for how my behaviour had damaged our family.
“To my relief she accepted my repentance instead of divorcing me. My youngest daughter sent me an SMS saying how happy she was to have a father again and how much she had missed me,” says Vlooi.
He admits there is still much work to be done repairing his family’s relationships, but Vlooi trusts that God will finish the process of reconciliation that He started.
De Wet Swanepoel, who also walked to KMMC 2014 without seconding support, back-up vehicles or sponsorship, has been carrying his huge cross around the country for more than two years to attract people’s attention to the sacrifice that Jesus made for the reconciliation of each of us with God.
Burden for broken
Swanepoel has a burden to share the gospel with everyone that is broken and bruised, in spiritual captivity and in blindness according to Isaiah 61. He walks for revival, for the body of Christ to be unified and to stand in His authority and act in His anointing.
“As I walk, the Lord is also busy healing me. It is a two edged sword; as the Lord heals me he places a burden on me to bring comfort to those members of his body that He places in my path,” says Swanepoel.
It is for this healing that Swanepoel has come to KMMC 2014, “to be filled with the presence of God,” to be restored and renewed.
But at the heart of the KMMC is a desire for the reconciliation of relationships; starting with people’s relationships with God and extending to their relationships with family, friends, and neighbours.
Jannie Moolman, event co-ordinator, says attending the KMMC 2014 allows men to focus on the relationships in their lives, share testimonies, encourage one another, pray for one another, and receive teaching, guidance and counselling.
Moolman says family day on Sunday, when women and children are welcome to attend KMMC 2014, is a critical aspect of the event, because the family is important to God.
“The Lord God has a heart for the family. Relationships within the family, with Jesus Christ at the centre, are critical, because they encourage the love of God to be extended from family to friends, neighbours, whomever the Lord places in our paths, and with those in authority.
“We hope to lead people into a closer relationship with the Lord, which will impact on the quality of all their other relationships,” says Moolman.
It is this emphasis on relationships and the family by which women benefit most from their menfolk attending the KMMC.
Ursula Steyn says she experienced a complete turnaround in her husband, Johann, after KMMC 2013.
“He often used to frequent bars till the early hours of the morning. However, when he came back from KMMC he had accepted Jesus as his saviour and his attitude had completely changed towards his family.
“It made our relationship much stronger and his relationship with the children also improved dramatically.
“Everything just came together as if our family lives had been pieces of a puzzle, which had been scattered, but now were perfectly fitted into place”, says Steyn.
Carine van Kerken says her husband, Tommy, had always been religious and a churchgoer, but did not have a relationship with God.
“Through attending mighty men conferences he developed a personal relationship with God, which changed his relationship with me.
“Although he has always been a good man, he became a Godly man with a much softer heart who was more attentive of his family and less concerned with pleasing the world.
“He is a much more humble person now,” says van Kerken.
However, she points out that it has been a process which needs more than the input of a KMMC once a year.
“Our church and cell-group have supported our spiritual growth in Christ,” concludes van Kerken.