And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” – Mathew 28 18-20.
And it happened, while Apollos was at Corinth, that Paul, having passed through the upper regions, came to Ephesus. And finding some disciples he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” So they said to him, “We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit” – Acts 19 1-2.
And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied. Acts 19 6.
I first came to know the Lord in July 1980 when I surrendered my life to Him. During the period since my conversion and just prior to being asked to go on mission I had always had the desire to be baptised with the Holy Spirit but without much success. This, I believe was mainly due to a disappointing experience I had in the 1980’s when I attended a Holy Spirit receiving meeting and the pastor publicly singled me out as someone who had a wall of Jericho around him as I was unwilling to mimic the sounds that he was encouraging me to make. I desired the real deal and did not want to be an imposter for the Lord. I knew that the Lord would grant me the gift of being baptised with the Holy Spirit in His time but that I had to continually believe and desire it.
During mid-August 2019, my wife and I were invited for tea by Rupert Freese and his wife Barbara. Rupert and his wife were house sitting in Langebaan for our Pastor, Tony Robson. During our visit Rupert asked whether we had done the “Principles of the doctrine of Christ”. We hadn’t done any specific teaching on the Principles, so Rupert offered to meet with us for 2 days a week over a 4-week period that he was spending in Langebaan. Although the teaching had to be condensed due to time constraints, we had a blessed time of fellowship and teaching from the Word during this period. The Principles formed a firm foundation for my subsequent reading of the Scriptures and brought a deeper, richer revelation of God’s Word. After a number of these sessions Rupert enquired whether I had ever been baptised with the Holy Spirit and whether I would like to go on a mission trip with him in September 2019. I shared my experience all those years ago and acknowledged that I had never been baptised in the Spirit, despite desiring it. I also mentioned to Rupert that I was unable to leave my wife for an extended period as she had been battling with health issues and required my help. We agreed to pray about both issues and ask the Lord to direct as He pleases.
In subsequent weeks the Lord intervened in a wonderful and miraculous way and circumstances changed that allowed me to go on the mission. I had still not been baptised with the Holy Spirit but I remained hopeful. As time hastened towards our planned departure for Mozambique and Malawi I was filled with a sense of trepidation as I had never ministered the Word to a group of people and I definitely was not known for my public speaking skills. I felt totally ill equipped to preach the Word to the people of both these countries. Rupert continued to offer much encouragement and reassurance to me that the Lord will do the work and all He wanted was a willing heart.
Rupert had arranged accommodation for me in Kommetjie for the night prior to the trip with a very generous and lovely brother and sister in Christ. They opened up their home to me, a total stranger and welcomed me with open arms for which I was extremely grateful. The 3-day trip to Mozambique started from Cape Town, with both Rupert and myself travelling to the small Free State town of Petrus Steyn where we planned to meet up with two other brethren who would be joining us, using two vehicles.
We were welcomed into our brethrens’ homes by their wonderful and very hospitable families, where we spent the first night before leaving for Mozambique travelling through Zimbabwe. We all retired for the evening after enjoying a delicious supper and were afforded the privilege of having our own bedrooms with our hosts children offering up their rooms. During the early hours of the following morning I was woken up by strange sounds coming from my mouth. It took a while for me to gather my thoughts before I realised what was happening – I was being baptised in the Spirit, worshipping the Lord in tongues. I was also filled with a sense of peace and assurance that the Lord was with me. I felt invigorated and empowered! Praise the Lord!
I’m not a very demonstrative person and avoid showing strong feelings of emotion publicly. I had experienced this all and yet felt hesitant to share with my fellow brothers as I wanted confirmation that the experience was real. However, sometime later when we had stopped for lunch, I felt compelled to share this wonderful experience with them.
A short distance after entering Zimbabwe, we spent the night at Bubu village. By this time, we were all exhausted from travelling as well as negotiating a smooth passage through the border post. It was not long before we retired for bed, each sleeping in single beds lined up in dormitory fashion. We started the morning with Rupert emphasising the purpose of the trip and prayed for the Lord’s protection, anointing and guidance. This was followed by a time of worshipping the Lord in Spirit, where once again I was able to participate in this Godly worship free from any inhibitions or distractions.
Our hosts in both Mozambique and Malawi were subsistence farmers who lived in very harsh environments. However, they were extremely gracious and hospitable during our stay. The villagers welcomed us with open arms and it was soon abundantly clear that they were hungry to hear the Word of God. It was truly amazing to experience their generosity despite the fact that they had very little materially. What they lacked materially they had in abundance spiritually.
While in Mozambique we used the home of Johan and Anne in Chimoio as a base while splitting into groups of two to visit the various villages in the immediate and outlying areas, often spending a couple of nights in the villages sleeping in a tent. Johan and his family have provided this valued service for more than twenty years and is a testimony of their commitment and generosity to the Mission. The ministry was operated similarly in Malawi where we were afforded the benefit of using the Mission House in Blantyre and splitting into groups of 2 as mentioned before, to minister the Word to the brethren staying in the various villages.
It would be grossly irresponsible of me not to mention the Holy Spirit’s hand in the preaching of the gospel. Often there was no time for preparing a sermon and it was nerve racking for me the first time. I was under the impression that initially I would merely observe my colleagues bring the message but little did I know what awaited me during our first meeting. We were escorted to a place where the villagers were gathered and I was asked unexpectedly to bring the Word. I could just feel the sense of expectation emanating from all these wonderful smiling faces singing in such harmony praising the Lord, our Saviour Jesus Christ. Miraculously, the Lord placed a short word on my heart which I shared with the group. Over time, I learnt to trust the Lord more and more and as a result gained in the confidence and knowledge that it was not about me, but the Lord opening the people’s hearts to receive the seed of the Word of God. Often the messages brought by each of us individually without prior knowledge of what was going to be ministered dovetailed so perfectly, one could see the Lord’s work at hand.
The trip was a life changing experience for me and while there were some hardships and sacrifices along the way, it certainly drew me closer to the Lord and taught me to trust the Lord more, continuously and diligently seeking Him. It also taught me to appreciate the love and hospitality of my brethren, no matter what culture or background – we are all one with Christ. Praise the Lord for His grace and mercy.