We were almost completely un-contactable. The shop down the road had a phone and we gave our family and friends that number to get in touch with us. If anyone did phone, we never got the message. There were no fax machines, no cell phones and the postal system was chronic. Letters started coming in the mail very slowly and there was an occasional call home. We started to feel cut off and realised soon afterwards that it was just the beginning of our “bed of nails” experience.
“First Sunday morning:
I feel like everything of home has gone. I am undone and needy. Seems that the past is so far way. I need to start all over again. I need to fellowship with God. Oh Lord, I am desperate for you and I really need encouragement.”
Our plan was to be involved with the church for six months, learning and serving and then make our way up North. We were helping out at the training centre with meals and loved spending time with the young people. We thought we had spelt out our plans very clearly but things got a bit tense with some of the leaders and it all came to a head. We had only been there a couple of months and we had no idea where it was coming from or what had set it off.
It was a tough day and many things were said to us in anger. God kept encouraging us, “ When you are in the fire, listen for anything that I may be saying.” Tony kept hearing God saying, “Just close your mouth. I don’t want you to say a word to defend yourself.” A tough call. We tried to listen for anything that may have been true; hiding behind the unnecessary words. Well, we did hear things and we wanted to run, but that night, Tony and I both knew that running wasn’t an option. There was nowhere to go. We had to stay, humble ourselves, serve and keep giving everything we had.
While we were lying in bed, holding on to each other more tightly than we had ever done, the question He asked us was, “If you never heard from another friend ever again, would you still be totally happy with me? I want you to get to a place of not depending on anyone or anything that should be found in me. I have everything you need. You can find all your heart’s desires in me. I am taking you through these things so you can begin to find me and all that I am. There is a lot about me that you still have no idea about. If you don’t go through everything joyfully and teachably they will remain hidden.”
We both felt that our answer was yes. If we never heard from another friend or family member, we would be ok. We were there for and with God and that would have to be enough.
We had come from a full, busy life in Johannesburg. The Holy Spirit was moving and doing amazing things. Now we had been told we weren’t allowed to pray for people or minister in anyway. As we lay there He dropped another one. “ If you never did another day of ministry would you be happy just with me?” Our answer was, “Yes.”
We realised then how much of our security had come from what we did. If all that went, what would be left of “us”? He showed us areas of spiritual pride and started to deal with some deep things.
“Oh Lord, all this humility is killing me. I feel like I know nothing. Do I need to die to all the words, the dreams the visions that you have given to me? So you can raise them to life? I am fragile and weepy, weak and humbled. I want to learn quickly so that this can be over soon.”
“Such discouragement and hopelessness; Weeping on and off. Missing fellowship, friends and family. So despairing.“
“In a land far away from all shelter and care, I find you there.”
We knew that our “bed of nails” experience had just begun. We were devastated and wanted to get up, but there was more. Isobel Kuhn, a missionary to China was told by a returning missionary that, “When your feet touch the shores of China, the scum of your nature will come to the surface.”
Things in South Africa were so good. Everyone who knew us loved us. We had never had a clash with anyone. We were broken and not sure how or when we would mend. A few things we determined before we fell asleep that night:
No matter how difficult things got, there was no way we were going to run away. We would stay, love, serve and give until the time came for us to leave. We would paint the house any colour anyone wanted it coloured. One day we would have our own house and we would paint it any colour we wanted to. That was exciting. That was something to look forward to.