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Posted 09 September 2009 - 01:59 PM
I was born in South Africa during the height of the apartheid era, went to school and was conscripted into an Infantry battalion when I finished school at the age of 17. South Africa was fighting a border war in Angola against Russians, Cubans, Angolans, and South Africans who had gone to Angola and joined the African National Congress (ANC), whose military wing was Mkonto we Sizwe (the Spear of the Nation), and whose de facto leader, although imprisoned on Robben Island, was Nelson Mandela.(more about him later). Out of school and into war at 17 was a wakeup call and shaped the lives, and disregard for life of thousands of white South Africans like me. Like most of them, 17 at school, 17 and six months, trained in combat, killing and how to hate. Indoctrinated. Some South Africans on Worthy from my generation may relate to the above. Enough said about that.
Two years later and a whole lot harder, I was released from conscription (except for one month a year “camps”), just to keep certain “skills” learned, honed.
I qualified as a medical technologist, did work in hospitals, mostly haematology, and soon got bored with laboratories and the 9 to 5.
So I joined the police. Some of my military training kicked in, and I immersed myself in the work.
I loved it.
I revelled in the danger and excitement. I was shot at, stabbed, had my neck broken, was involved in two high speed auto accidents, and with my partner, made 365 first schedule arrests in 6 years (Murder, rape, robbery, drugs, firearms, auto theft, that sort of thing). I and my partner received commendations and the press dubbed us the terrible twins. I was put undercover on two separate cases, one involving drugs and the other I am not at liberty to talk about in post apartheid South Africa. Suffice to say I lived like an animal on the streets, lying in the gutter opposite buildings I was watching, dressed like a hobo and clutching a bottle of vodka (from which I liberally imbibed).
I loved it.
I left the police (can you believe I got bored!), and entered into what I still do 27 years later, nature conservation. I again used certain skills in anti poaching (still do, but use them more wisely now), slept out in the bush for days at a time, with a ration pack and a rifle, nothing else. Slept under trees, did not wash, brush teeth, or change clothes (because the smell of soap carries on a still night) and hunted... men...again. These were the rhino poachers who were paid a pittance for horns by syndicates operating out of China, Vietnam and parts of Africa. Colleagues died inches from me in gunfights, and in other areas in ambushes set up to kill them because they were getting too close to the source. And we shot back.
I loved it.
I progressed quickly through the ranks until I was one of five men just below the Deputy Director level of the organisation of 3000 men and women. Men like Nick Steele who pioneered rhino capture from horseback (and was instrumental in saving the white rhino from extinction), and Ian Player, father of the Wilderness concept, now a world renown conservationist in his late 80’s and a personal friend of Prince Charles.
I ran a huge chunk of African real estate, with a staff of over 500, and my word was law. We were para-military in set up, and my staff saluted me just as is done in the army. I did this for 20 years.
I loved it.
Umm... I think this is where Jesus decided enough, I want you. Oh, I did not want Him, believe me. I was a hard, uncompromising, prideful, (oh so prideful), self inflated pain in the neck. But I was good at what I did, (pride again) and I did it under my own power and at the expense of others feelings, needs or desires.
South Africa got democracy, the ANC came to power, and Nelson Mandela became president.
And I was retrenched in an affirmative action campaign. My world fell apart. Everything I had lived for, the excitement, going to bed smelling of cordite and sweat, stalking in the acacia thickets of Mkuze Game Reserve, all gone, overnight.
I found another job in conservation (the one I am in now), and started from the bottom (well the middle). I doubted myself and my abilities, all of a sudden I could not do it all myself anymore.
I hated it.
How bad was it, how far did I fall? In August 2002, I woke up, lying on my stomach, and I could not move, literally could not move. I was sobbing; my future, my past and my present were a black hole. I lay like that for 16 hours, my entire universe was me, and it was a black hole. This went on for a week, I fought it, I barely ate, and I did not change clothes. I truly believe that in that time I was part human, part animal.
Eventually I got to a physiatrist. She did the usual, hows your father sort of thing and gave me a heap of tablets. The sleeping tables were the best, the date rape drug ones, blissful blackness for 12 hours. Only problem is that I had to wake up sometime. Many’s the time........ Let’s not go there.
So I booked myself in as a day patient in a psyche ward at a nearby hospital. That was interesting. I met a guy who when he had his sunglasses on was invisible and if you spoke to him he freaked. I met a guy who only wore Diesel branded clothing, because any other clothes burned his skin. I met young girls who offered themselves to me if I would bring drugs to them when I came back the next morning.
I was doing anger management courses, boundary courses, courses, and courses while there.
I hated it.
And then I got my first glimpse of Jesus.
I was sitting in a room, another course, by myself, and a blond goddess of a woman walked through the door. She sat down opposite me and put a writing pad in front of me. I felt an aura of grace that I still feel around her when we meet (she is a good friend today). I did not know, and she could not tell me, being a councillor in a secular hospital, that it was the joy of knowing Jesus that I felt through her. Her name is Helen Roome.
She gave me the pad and said start writing (insert Fez for my name here). I said “what”; she said “anything that comes to mind”. I said “that’s a #$%^&* stupid idea”. She said “write” and walked out! The goddess was gone, just a faint hint of perfume left behind.
Prideful me, I said Ok and started writing something like Mary had a little lamb, this is stupid, etc. Ummm...two hours later when she returned I was still writing. She said give me the pad, and I said no, I am still writing. She yanked it from me and said wait here I will be back later.
Two hours later she was back and I thought oh, good she has read my sad story and I could do with some TLC from a blond goddess. She looked me straight in the eyes, oh she has these huge, soft blue eyes, and I melted.
And she said in her wonderful lilting voice, “The person you hate most in the world....is yourself”. I was devastated, how could this vision, this ethereal blond epitome of grace say such a thing!
I hated it.
I went home to my brother’s house, I was staying there, and it was a Saturday afternoon. We sat in the front garden, him, my sis in law, my niece 12 then, and my nephew, 15 or so, all of them Christians, and they cried with me. Two rolls of toilet paper and one roll of kitchen towel.
And a voice came into my head. Not sub conscious like you are thinking right now, but a voice, like there is a person standing in your head! And the voice said three words “Go to Church”. Nothing will convince me otherwise that this was the voice of God. I heard Him, never heard Him again like that, but it was God.
I was very confused
Come Sunday off to church with the family, last time I had been was to bury a friend. And they had to go and sit in the front row!!! I felt so out of place, so uncomfortable, so conspicuous! Worship! People singing, lifting their hands up, praising Jesus! What had I got myself into! I really thought about running, but it was like I was rooted in place. I truly felt nothing except panic.
Ok better, we sit down, I am less conspicuous and maybe I can endure 40 minutes or so of some dude (Mark Mack, I fish with him now!), droning on about Jesus.
But oh no, what does Jesus do? He makes Mark make an altar call. Anyone here want to know Jesus?
Oh boy! I feel myself standing. 1200 eyes staring at my back. Well there were only 600 people but X 2 you know. Oh wait, Syd only has one eye, so 1999 eyes boring into my back. Sorry Syd.
I feel myself walking forward into the unknown.
Mark gets me to repeat the prayer after him. I turn around and 600 people are on their seats clapping, shouting, and praising Jesus, Helen Roome, who I did not know attended the same church, was amongst them. Angels are singing in heaven.
And my lungs feel like they are filled with helium.
He loves Me!!!!!!
(Life is such fun now, I love everything I do because I do it in His name and under His grace – and about Nelson Mandela, I had the privilege of having lunch with him in the park where I now work in 2005 while he was on holiday. He is an awesome presence to be near. From fighting against his organisation to having lunch with him many years later in a free South Africa, isn’t Gods plan wonderful?)
Posted 09 September 2009 - 02:08 PM
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Posted 09 September 2009 - 02:29 PM
This should be the forward to your book!
yeah creed, i honestly think he could actually write a book...
Posted 09 September 2009 - 02:36 PM
Jne is that Jesus had to break my pride down first, and oh what a pride it was. He had to use a hammer
Then He did not rebuild me, what was left was not worthy. He created a whole new me. Thats why the first line of Genesis means so much to me. He created a new me!
The second is that if anyone is suffering from depression and thinks Jesus cannot heal them, send them here, or to me, please.
The third and last is that there is someone who needed to hear the whole story.....
Posted 09 September 2009 - 04:01 PM
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Posted 10 September 2009 - 07:38 AM
And thank you, Lord, for adding this man to your Kingdom.
Posted 10 September 2009 - 07:43 AM
Posted 10 September 2009 - 09:59 AM
Thank you for sharing this amazing story and I thank God you are my brother in Christ. Bless you always!
Posted 09 October 2009 - 09:50 PM
Nelson Mandela, I had the privilege of having lunch with him in the park where I now work in 2005 while he was on holiday. He is an awesome presence to be near.
My most favourite modern day hero!