A lot had changed. Tony was working at Waverley as a salaried pastor, we sold our VW Golf, got a second hand Renault and we had two children. Our biggest surprise was when two businessmen from the church told us they wanted to build us a house. One of them was a builder and the other owned a hardware store. They insisted that they didn’t want us to pay a cent towards it. It was a gift for us.
We couldn’t believe we were going to have our own home. The church property at Linbro Park was the perfect place for it. We watched the foundations being dug and the building going up. We went to the hardware store and selected light fittings, kitchen cupboards and paint for the walls. It was amazing. In the back of our minds we knew it wouldn’t be ours for long but we were determined to enjoy it to the full while we had it.
For our house warming party, our friends brought plants for our little garden. We had shovels and spades ready and we all got our hands dirty. We loved showing them around and having people on almost every corner of our wall-to- wall carpet.
Just as we were settling, Tony felt it was time to make a survey trip to India. Dudley Reed was quick to volunteer to go with him. They had sent their passports to a travel agent to get visas. On departure day, we left the house for the airport but the passports still hadn’t arrived. They were apparently in the belly of a plane, which was landing just before theirs was due to take off. We were all at the airport ready to say a teary goodbye to the two brave men about to embark on their first trip together. Departure time came and went and we were left standing in the departure lounge, stunned that they had missed the plane. The travel agent really got it from all sides. We went home, had a good sleep and the next day was like déjà vu, except they had their visas in hand.
There was a big trip planned all over India; first to Bombay where they met up with some of the leaders of New Frontiers who were doing some great things. They became good friends. From there they travelled to Chennai, Delhi and were making their way to Mussoorie, Bihar, Varanasi, Kathmandu, Delhi and then back to Johannesburg.
On the way to Mussoorie they stopped in a small village called Kotdwara. Tony went up to the flat roof to worship and pray about our future in India. He was looking over the village and singing an old Keith Green song,
“I pledge my head to heaven for the Gospel,
And I ask no man on earth to fill my needs.
Like the sparrow up above, I am enveloped in His love,
And I trust Him like those little ones He feeds.
Well I pledge my wife to heaven, for the Gospel,
Though our love each passing day just seems to grow.
As I told her when we wed, I’d surely rather be found dead,
Than to love her more than the one who saved my soul.
Well I pledge my son to heaven for the gospel.
Though he’s kicked and beaten, ridiculed and scorned.
I will teach him to rejoice, and lift a thankful praising voice,
And to be like Him who bore the nails and crown of thorns
I’m your child, and I want to be in your family forever
I’m your child, and I’m going to follow you,
Oh no matter whatever the cost, I’m gonna count all things lost
I’ve had the chance to gain the world, and to live just like a king,
But without your love, it doesn’t mean a thing.
Well I pledge my son, I pledge my wife, I pledge my head to heaven for the gospel.”
As he was singing, God spoke into his heart; “I want you to give me your children; whether they live or die.” Then, “I want your wife, whether she lives or dies.” Then, “Now I want you, whether you live or die.” Dudley went up onto the roof to find out where he was. He found him on the floor in a fetal position, weeping in agony.
While I had agreed to going to India and was really happy to go anywhere, I still hadn’t felt my own personal call. I was very aware that India wasn’t just “anywhere”. While Tony was away God did just that. I put the girls to bed and sat listening to “Let me be a shining light to the nations.” When the line “Let me be a healing balm to the nations” played, I started crying. My heart filled with an overwhelming desire to bring healing to India and her people.
A week later some insurance salesmen came around trying to make us scared for our future. “What if something happens to your husband? You could end up in a tiny flat in Johannesburg with nothing.” My reply was, “If something happens to Tony, I will be living in India. If I have nothing, that’s also ok.” I meant it with all of my heart.