We called it our “bed of nails.” Rigby and Sue called it their “dark night of the soul.” Whatever we called it, we knew, that what was meant for evil, God meant for good.
In 1996 their circumstances changed. They handed over the leadership of Waverly Church and moved to Cape Town. Ryan and Leigh were in their early teens and were finding it hard to find their feet spiritually. They weren’t happy about the changes.
The Wallace family arrived in Cape Town to start all over again. The relationships they thought were forever, seemed to have been cut off. There were very few who walked with them through their shadowy valley. We got on a plane as soon as we could. It was a month later. Terry and Linda Fouche and a few others were also there with them.
Rigby opened “Second Chance Wearhouse.” He sold good second hand jackets and coats. It was stretching and it was their only source of income. They were in business for six months. It was the longest six months of their lives. All they had known was ministry. Selling second hand jackets seemed a far cry from what they were called to do.
A deep, refining work was done in their lives in those six months. We recommended R.T. Kendall’s story of Joseph, “God Meant It for Good,” which had really helped us through our testing fire. They found it quite funny that Joseph, the first man they employed at the warehouse, wore a bright pink shirt to work every day.
When the business had been running for six months, a pastor Paul Jones, walked into Rig’s office. He had just resigned from his church and there was no one to take it on. Rigby and Sue knew it was the right time and the right thing for them to do.
They started meeting with a small group of fifty or so people. They called it Friends First. (if you are curious about what has happened Google: Common Ground Church Cape Town)
I couldn’t be there for Sue, but I wrote her a letter. It got to her just before I did. This was it.
To my best and most gorgeous sister, Sues,
My heart is just breaking and I am desperate to be with you. To follow you around wherever you need to go in these next weeks. To hold your hand when you need to feel brave.
On the other hand I know I would contaminate the holy and great thing God is doing in your life; a work that hasn’t been done before. My interfering and meddling hands would get in the way. They would try to soften the blows, ease the pain and stop the hurt.
The fire that hurts so badly is the baptism that we read about. It is so deep and so painful until not one bit of us is alive.
When all accusations have been made, all hurtful words spoken, all life drained out, all truth revealed (from both sides) there is freedom. There is great freedom ahead for you, Sues. Freedom you have never known. I am so glad you have stepped into it. I am crying for you and praying for your deliverance to be quick. Mine would be immediate, but God’s is only when the complete and holy work is done.
When all the harsh and untrue words come, hear God. Hear God. Hear God. Somewhere in the muddle of human words, God can and does speak. You will come out as pure gold. You are pure gold in my eyes, but the purest of gold comes through the fire; the fire of God’s holiness and love. His incredible passion-filled love.
I SO want to be with you. Sometimes I feel it is cruel to be so far apart at a time like this. Tony and I have been through the deepest of valleys, where there was no sun to make shadows, but God was there. Accused of the hardest things, by brothers who should know better, but God was there. Working on us, changing us, moulding us and making us. He uses all and everything to bring us closer to Himself. His ways are sooooo different from ours. We don’t love like He does. We don’t see like He does. When no one else is with us, every faithful friend has chosen to leave, ministry is taken away, God asks, “Will you be happy just with me?”
Sues, I don’t know what to say. I want to sit on the bed with you, hug you, hold your hand and just be with you. I can’t be and I hate that thought. BUT I know that the greatest comforter and strengthener, who has comforted and strengthened us in times of deep loneliness and despair, is with you. I am deeply grateful and happy with that.
I love you Sues,
Run to the fortress that won’t collapse.
When we saw Rig and Sue, we knew instantly that their dark night of the soul had done wonders. There was such humility and a profound awareness that their future was going to be very bright.