We had run out of money again. There was enough for a few litres of petrol and one more meal. To make it to the end of the month, we needed R 400.00.
We went to church, secretly hoping that someone would take us out for lunch or bless us with some money. Neither happened. I asked Tony to ask Rig to lend us some. His response was, “One day we are going to be in India and there will be no-one to ask. We have to learn to trust God now.” After the meeting, we stopped at a supermarket. There were lots of people from church buying lots of lovely things to eat. Tony had heard a story of someone who had no money but filled up their trolley anyway. As they got to the till someone offered to pay for their groceries. He didn’t have such faith so he came out with a loaf of bread.
We got home, made sandwiches and lay down to have an afternoon nap. It wasn’t long before the phone rang. It was someone from our church.
“Hi Tony. I have been trying to rest, but the figure of R 400.00 is going round and round in my head. I am going to bring it to you now, so I can get some sleep.”
The church couldn’t pay us a salary so Tony taught guitar and applied for a position as a prison chaplain. He had studied at a Baptist Bible College in New Zealand so he approached the Baptist Union to ask about being a prison chaplain for them. He was accepted. To our surprise, the Prison Services of South Africa paid him to do it.
South Africa had the second largest prison population in the world next to Russia. Tony got a chaplain post in Leeuwkop Maximum Security Prison. There weren’t many white chaplains applying for jobs in there. Most of the men were political prisoners.
On his first day, Tony was taken through one gate after the other and led into an open courtyard where 300 men were waiting for him. Some were on death row. There were guards with machine guns patrolling the walls but there was no safety in that. He knew that men sentenced to death have no fear of dying twice. They could have killed him right then and their consequences would have been the same; death. He was really scared. He prayed. God took the fear away and replaced it with love.
Every day he went in and out of the many hospitals, solitary confinement cells and wards sharing his story. He shared the story of Jesus for four months without asking for a response. The men kept asking what they needed to do and he would tell them to wait. On the 1st Jan, they knew all they needed to know and Tony asked them to respond. 150 men gave their broken lives to Jesus. It wasn’t long before Maximum Security was the best section to be in.
Prisoners from all sections signed up to do a Bible Correspondence course and Tony had 1,500 students to take care of. He was in his element.
In the meantime, I was nauseous and in my element. I loved our new house. We even had a baby room. Someone gave us some bright yellow curtains, which fitted perfectly. We were too poor to be fussy. Things started pouring in. Before we knew it, we had everything we needed for our baby and we hadn’t bought a thing.
Food was still a bit of an issue. One day we put our hands on our fridge and asked God for some vegetables. We didn’t want to be too demanding. Only vegetables. That afternoon a friend called us to say they were moving house. Could we pop in to pick up some things? They opened their deep freezer and told us to help ourselves. We drove home with so many bags of frozen vegetables there was no room for them in our small freezer. We started to think of who we could give them to.
While we were happily boiling our vegetables, another friend knocked on our door. She was standing there with a huge prime fillet in her hands. “ I thought you might enjoy this.” She had NO idea how much we were going to enjoy it.
We were sitting at our little dining table, tucking into our prime fillet and yummy vegetables and the God who knows hearts so well whispered, “You can have vegetables, but you can also ask me for meat.”