[notice]When Gateway News asked Debbie Janse van Rensburg to write down how she and her husband Fanie ended up pursuing adventures with God in the Eastern Cape village of Morgan Bay, she began her story in her early childhood. “As I wrote I realised that all the experiences tie in to each other to get us to where we are now, so I needed to include all the important bits in order for it to make sense” says Debbie. This is Episode 2 of her inspiring and heartwarming story.[/notice]
Episode 3 – New life in old dreams
Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart” ~ Psalm 37:4
The year that followed was not easy and there was a huge void in our hearts and in our home. It was during this time that we came to learn of a little boy who had been found abandoned in a shack at 9 months old, badly dehydrated and close to starving. This child immediately just did something to our hearts, and after meeting him at a safe house we knew we were in love. But as with many abandoned child cases, the paperwork and red tape involved in trying to foster them is very daunting and in this case, the social worker advised us against trying to take him home. She suggested we put our names down for other babies — simpler cases. But like we explained to the her, it’s not a case of choosing a baby – God knows exactly which baby belongs where and when He puts that knowing into your heart, there’s no changing it.
Many, many prayers were said for this precious little boy, but still we just seemed not to be making any headway and were no closer to having him in our family. It was about this time that a close friend of ours nominated us both to attend the Emmaus Weekend in the Eastern Cape. I must admit that I went reluctantly as I felt I didn’t need to go on a whole weekend Christian camp; that I already loved God and was in a relationship with Him. Wow, how unprepared I was for the total surrender that I experienced that weekend !!! We were in the chapel which was a little tent erected on the lawn, having a session called ‘Dying moments’. I noticed the other ladies all taking a turn to kneel at the cross, praying and releasing their burdens — so not wanting to feel out, I thought I should also go and kneel and just pray about whatever was on my mind ……… God had other plans. I knelt and the first thing that came to mind was the family that I longed for and this little boy who had crept into our hearts. So I said “Lord, I give you all my longings for a family. If you decide that we are not to have children, I will accept it and I will continue to love and serve You. It’s Your way now Lord, your will, not mine or my longings anymore” and with that, my heart felt like it was physically being torn in half ! I had surrendered all and I could feel it. I sobbed my heart out there at the foot of the cross, not because I thought I had to, but because I could feel the heartache from all the years of longing for a family and for this little boy just pouring out. It hurt so, so much but was at the same time so healing and so cleansing.
I left that weekend knowing that it was God’s way now, no longer mine. Exactly a week later, I was in my office at work when I got a phone call from our social worker. I had not heard from her for a few months and her first words to me were, “Debbie, do you still want the little bo ?” I burst into tears !!! My work colleague was so worried about me standing there with the phone, sobbing and in between all the tears and gulps I tried dismally to explain to her that these were happy tears!!! There were still no guarantees, we would only be a safe house, with option to foster, no adoption yet, but if we wanted, we could come fetch him in two days time. No words can describe our happiness and we just praised and thanked God because we knew -– we had surrendered all, so He had given us our hearts’ desire !!
We serve an AWESOME GOD !!!!
Two days later we left to fetch our baby boy of 1½ years from the orphanage, in a borrowed car and not owning even one single “baby” item. By the time we came home that evening with our precious bundle, we were still in our borrowed car BUT the car was so, so loaded with “baby things” that there was barely space for our little boy and me to sit in the back seat. Friends, the church and the orphanage owners and staff had rallied round to make sure we had everything that we could possibly need for a new baby, from nappies, clothes, bedding, bath, high chair, toys, books, food, more toys, more clothes, shoes and even groceries for us !!! What a fantastic day that was.
Our little boy arrived with some medical issues as well and we were advised by many people and doctors to operate, but we as a family stood firm in prayer and today he is fully healed by God. But this is a whole other story, a huge testimony in itself which I would need to write a book on in order to tell you all about it. Truly another miracle, witnessed by many.
Now, almost three years on, we have since been blessed with another little boy, of the same age as our first boy — also from the orphanage. We never had any intention of fostering/adopting two little boys of the same age, but again – God had other plans for us so when the second little boy came across our path, try as we might to convince God that we weren’t really up to taking on another toddler, either physically or financially, we just knew in our heart that God had chosen him to be our other son and that he already was, since before he was even born. When our second son arrived, we learnt that he was born the day after my Dad died !
During this season my employer had been chatting to the pastor of our church, and together they decided that because Morgan Bay is an hour away from East London, many folk were not able to get to the Sunday service in the city, so why not have a fortnightly service here at the hotel for our local and staff to attend. We are now into our second year of these two-weekly evening services and the attendance has grown slowly. The services are still a blessing to all who attend and it was here in this little church that Fanie preached his first sermon.
Having the two boys, meant that one of us had to change jobs to more suitable hours so that we were home in the evenings and not leaving all the babysitting to my Mom. So Fanie managed to get a job at the hardware shop in neighbouring Kei Mouth, which meant he didn’t work weekends, evenings or public holidays which has been a great help. Whilst there, he has befriended one of the staff members, Tata Ayanda, who happens to be an assistant pastor of a church in the Kei Mouth location, which is held weekly in an old, dilapidated, disused school building. The two of them soon became close friends and spiritual partners, having the same passion and desire to teach and evangelise in areas seldom reached by churches. Tata Ayanda invited us as a family to attend his church one day – deep in the rather notorious Kei Mouth location. So off we went, a bit nervously. On arrival we were so taken aback by the wonderful warm welcome we got as we were quickly ushered to the front of the little congregation and there, in that seriously derelict building, barely held together, with a sheet covering the window and dripping with perspiration, we experienced the presence of the Holy Spirit in a wonderfully simple, honest way. No frills and flounces, no one to impress, just God’s people worshipping Him because they adore Him. It was so Special ! Fanie and Ayanda also attend the KarooMighty Men annually and each time we make our vehicle available for any other men in the area who want to go – no charge, just come along with a tent and sleeping bag. This year they plan to do the same, hoping to go with a car full of men.
Our experiences at the local church, both at the hotel and in the location have made us aware of the need to get out there and share the Gospel and now, having the two boys has certainly opened our eyes and made us realise just what the children in the rural areas have to deal with on a daily basis. These experiences, coupled with our desire for mission work, to evangelise, teach and serve brings us to what we believe, is our next step — next adventure, God willing. The plan is to kit up Fanie’s trusty Landrover with a portable PA system/sound system, which will allow him and Ayanda to go into any rural area and preach. Fanie has led a couple of the services at our little church in the hotel, but he really hopes to make these more regular and we feel that we cannot sit back and wait for people to come to hear about the Gospel; we need to take the Gospel to the people.
God is doing so many wonderful things in and around us and there is an excitement in the air which speaks of new growth, of change and of revival. We as a family feel so strongly that now is the time for me to work towards getting funds to do an Educare course which will enable me to work with the children in the rural areas, bringing the Gospel in at grassroots. Whilst studying I have asked our local little school and creche if I can spend time with them daily, as an apprentice teacher to which they agreed. Some of the locals in our little village have drawn up plans to build a proper little creche here in Morgan Bay where the kids can be safe and have their own classroom. At the moment, the children all make use of the town hall, which just happens to be right next to a shebeen and on the main road. Also, with it being the town hall, the children are not able to have desks or put up posters or anything because the hall is used for any local meeting, voting, church group, etc.
So, going back to the beginning of my story – God put a dream, a passion in our hearts years and years ago, which I believe He is slowly but surely bringing to fruition – taking us through many different experiences along the way, but never leaving us for a moment, and always working towards what He had intended for us to do, right from the day we were born. Some of our experiences have been terrifying, some sad, some happy, with many more ahead, of that I am sure. But looking back from where we have come so far, I can see God’s hand, His guidance and His protection through every single moment – how He uses every single challenge, every victory to let His Glory shine through us.
God gave us each a passion for a purpose. That dream tucked way down deep in your heart is there for a reason and God will bring that dream to reality if we’ll let Him !
Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert — Isaiah 43:19