Tag Archives: faith

Post 202. The Threat of War

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In June 2002,  the US embassy put out an advisory for all foreigners to leave India. Pakistan was threatening to drop a nuclear bomb on Delhi.

The thought of leaving our community was horrible.  “Not even an option!”  Tony made some calls to our relatives who advised otherwise.  They felt it would be irresponsible of us to not think about our children.

We made some emergency plans which in retrospect were quite silly ones.  If a bomb was dropped, there was no way on earth we were going to be able to drive our car from Delhi to Mussoorie.  We couldn’t even drive to our local market on a normal day without getting stuck in a traffic jam.  The panicky pictures we painted in our minds and to each other were all horrendous and futile, bordering on comical.

We lay awake wondering:  If we left the country, when would we ever get back?  What would happen to our Delhi community?  How could we abandon our family?  Could we take them all with us?  What about our kids?  They were our priority.  We were torn.

The threat came and went and came and went..  and with it our fear.  Love for the community grew.  Were we going to run away like hirelings? No.  We were shepherds. Our kids were our first sheep and we never wanted to put them in danger.   We were also in love with the “community sheep” who would have been harassed and helpless without a shepherd.

The test was real.  Would we run away at the first sign of trouble?  Would we pack up our things, head for a safe, foreign land and leave behind those who had no option but to stay?

One night as we lay in the dark, peace descended on us.  We decided we would only go if the Indian Government demanded it ( and even then, we wondered how we could camouflage ourselves without looking too much like Peter Sellers in The Party 🙂

The kids each got a new backpack with a few emergency items, which they kept on their beds.  Within a couple of days, the snacks had been eaten during midnight feasts and the bags were used for storing things.

“They” say, “Most of what we fear never happens.”  I have found this to be very true.   Fear can be paralysingly real.  It has the power to control.  It has the power to stop us dead in our tracks.  It disturbs our peace and limits our ability to experience freedom and love.  It affects our destiny.

We decided, after much turmoil and stress, to grab fear by the throat and hold it against the wall.  When we looked it in the eye, we were surprised at it’s timidity.

It’s fear.

PS.

See more of my posts on fear.  Yes, I’ve had issues 🙂

Post 168 and Post 169

 

 

 

 

 

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Post 187. I’m back- I think

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I have been putting this moment off for three years.  Just in the past five minutes I have deleted this sentence at least six times.  Questioning and doubting.  I am also very aware of what’s coming if I start this again.

I need to get into my photo albums, diaries and scrappy script to add details of the past seventeen years to it (2000-2017).

I am going to need to be disciplined and creative and my memory is going to have to be shaken to it’s core.

Many of the events of the past seventeen years in Delhi have been painful.   I’m not sure I want to re-visit them or put them down for others to read but I will aim to do this slowly and with wisdom. These years have also been among our happiest.  It’s been quite a roller coaster ride.

So, my last and final excuse is that when it comes to writing,  I am lazy and need some major motivation.  I have recently had some lovely comments about my blog being inspiring and helpful, so I will start again.

Tony and I are leaving Delhi soon to start another community from scratch; for the first time without our kids.

Asha, Zoe and Jordan were 12, 11 and 5 when you last read about them.  It was the year 2000 and we had just moved to Delhi.  They are grown ups now. They are all married and we have two grandchildren.   It has been our greatest happiness to have them all within walking distance of our house in Delhi. I’m not sure I’m ready for this.

We are moving to Nagaland (Far North East India). The internet there can be quite unreliable and I’m not sure how often I will be able to post my posts.  Probably not every day. It may be erratic- so to you ladies who sat down with your cup of coffee and my blog every morning- you may be disappointed 🙂

I am learning (and I’m a slow learner) that if anything needs to be done, I need to do it, otherwise it won’t get done.  Profound, I know.

Thank you for following my story.  I hope I can keep it addictive and interesting and inspiring.  I love knowing who is reading and what you are thinking, so please let this be a two way thing ok?  I need all the encouragement and inspiration I can get 🙂IMG_0292

Post 39. Tony? Tony who?

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Oh, Tony Johnson!   I only knew one Tony. He was the cute Kiwi boy.  I had heard his amazing story at conferences and he sang really well.  He was Robin Glass’s best friend.  Robin was the funny, tall, curly-haired, Brazilian/English guy.

I was living in Liverpool, waiting for the ship to arrive.  It had been weeks since I was on the ocean and I missed it.  I wondered about Tony.  What would it be like seeing him, knowing what I had heard?  Why would he be interested anyway?

The ship arrived and it was busy.  No time to sit around thinking about love and romance.  I was up and down the gangway, taking care of people who thought they were important and making sure they were fed and shown around.  I didn’t see Tony at all.

Late one night as we were leaving the ship, I heard someone playing a guitar and singing.  We walked around the corner and it was Tony.  He smiled so I stopped and commented on the stars.  He asked how things were going and I told him.  A lot happened that night and we hadn’t even broken the five minute rule.

He had been observing me for months.  We had a joint girls and guys Bible Study and we had talked about marriage.  I had made a comment something like, “When I get married I am going to love my husband more than anyone else in the world.”  Tony could not imagine being loved that way.  He wanted to volunteer.  On another occasion I spoke with the shipmates about something that was going on in my life.  He liked my honesty and vulnerability.

Over the next few months, there were occasions when we had short conversations.  A few times we found ourselves at the same dining room table, talking about the weather with 6 other people.

My two years on the ship was up.  I had stayed on 6 months extra to do the PR work on land.  It was time to go home.  I was visiting one of the families and Tony happened to be fixing their door lock.  He was invited to join us for tea and that was when we had our last and longest conversation.

Tony:  So what are your plans?  What will you do when you leave the ship?

Me:  (With a smile on my face) I am going back to South  Africa to marry a pastor.  What about you?

Tony:  I am going back to India.  That is where I am called to be.

The conversation went on.  He had never considered being a pastor and I had never considered living in India.  We were both so confident about where we were going and they were opposite directions.

It was time for me to leave the Doulos; my home for two and a half years.  My aunt and uncle had come to pick me up in Hull and they were taking me to their place in Kent.  I walked around for the last time, saying tearful goodbyes to the kids and their parents and all the amazing friends I had made.

As I was walking out of the door, Tony came up the stairs in his overalls looking very flustered.  We said goodbye and I walked down the gangway.

On the road again.

On the road again.

The ship sailed away and I stood on the quayside waving goodbye and crying my eyes out.  Tony was there and we waved and smiled.  I knew where he was going and he knew where I was going.  We had no idea how we were ever going to see each other again, but we knew we would.

Little did I know that Tony had been running around the ship trying to find a leader to get permission to ask if he could speak to me.  He had left it too late.

Little did I know that Tony Johnson was asking God if I could be his wife.

Post 36. Intense.

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After working in every department girls could work in, I signed up for four months of Intensive Training.  The ship was in Chile.

It was so intense.  We had daily, weekly and monthly goals.  We read through the Bible from cover to cover, memorised long portions of scripture, read through lots of required reading books and listened to many messages which were on cassette tapes in the library.  

We got up to jog at 5 am every day preparing for a 25 km run and a 20 km walk.   That was interesting when we were at sea; running along the deck with waves splashing all around us, stopping to throw up then off again.  It was a test of endurance. 

Wherever we went we were either reading or mumbling memory verses under our breath.  On top of that there were certain hours we had to work.  We didn’t sleep much. 

The three day fast was a challenge.  The ship was docked and we were put into teams. There was a small church building where we stayed and prayed for three days.  Now THAT was intense.  We were only allowed to have water.  There were many manifestations of bad character but we walked back onto the ship thinner and better people. 

There was also a three day “faith trip”.   We left the ship with as many books as we could carry, no money and a change of clothes. When we met people we could answer their questions but not solicit anything in anyway.  If we sold books, we could use that money to buy food; if we didn’t, too bad.    

I had NEVER had to ask God for food.  I struggled.  My pride really got in the way.  The other girls seemed to be fine with it but I just couldn’t do it.  We had no food for the first day and a half and we all came to the conclusion that I was the Jonah.  They urged and encouraged me to just humble myself and ask God.  I was so hungry that I did.  That afternoon while walking around the small town, we met a lady who asked us what we were doing.  There was no hinting or soliciting in our reply.  She invited us to her house for dinner.  It was a HUGE house and the table was groaning with food.  

We ate, drank and were VERY merry.

Post 26. “I have NO idea.”

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I thought I would die of sadness when Lindy and her family left for the States. We were 15.  It was as if my life had come to an end.  We wrote tear-filled letters to each other for about two years.  Brenda was my first best friend and Lindy was my second.  I wasn’t sure how my faith would hold up without her.Mondays were especially difficult for me.  The girls came back to school after a weekend of partying.  They asked me what I had done and who I had slept with.  There were many discussions about virginity and the loss of it.  They just couldn’t understand why I had decided to wait until I got married.

My subjects were Biblical Studies, French, English, History, Biology and Afrikaans.  I kicked myself over and over for not taking Domestic Science and Typing instead of French and History.  I wanted to be in Lindy’s class.  Then she went and left.

So much had changed, but I couldn’t seem to stay out of trouble. There was still lots of messing around in class.  I was totally unprepared for my final exams and I did a lot of cramming and crying days before writing.  There was NO WAY I wanted to repeat a year of school.

Gymnastics

To add to my distractions I was a gymnast.   I could tie myself in knots.  Wilf said the circus was NOT an option so I worked hard and qualified for the National Gymnastics Championships instead.  I never could point my toes properly and skipped all my ballet classes so I didn’t win a medal.  I kept doing it anyway.  Just for fun.

I was always first to finish my paper.  I filled in whatever I could and then put my head on the desk and slept.  Some questions were answered with “I have NO idea.”

Everyone was convinced I would fail.  They expected me to be back the following year.

It was a miracle that I scraped through,  by the skin of my teeth. When I walked out of those gates for the last time, they were amazed.  There was a song on my lips.  It was deep and profound.  I sang it loud and I sang it proud:

No more school

No more stick

No more dirty arithmetic

If the teacher interferes,

Turn around and box her ears

If she wakes up in the night

Blow her up with dynamite.

With that, my school years ended.

Post 24. Rigby

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Our lives had changed in so many ways. Sue decided that enough was enough and walked out of school just before her matric year.  She got a job at Barclays Bank in town.  She was FREE.  Dave also left school and got a job at the Daily News as an apprentice printer.

Wilf and Val were doing the best they could with their teenage kids.  I’m sure they wished we would just go back and play in the drains.  There were boyfriends and girlfriends and a lot of comings and goings.  Dad didn’t like any of our boyfriends and he made that pretty obvious.

Sue started to come to church with me and things changed big time for her.    We decided we wanted to be baptised.  What a performance there was.  All the christening photos were brought out and we were informed that we had already been baptised.  Thank you very much.  They finally came round and reluctantly agreed that we had no idea what we were doing, all dressed up in our christening gowns.  We could barely see let alone believe.

Well, they came for our baptism. Wilf cried through the whole thing and it wasn’t long after that they were both born again.  Peter joined them and Dave was always somewhere nearby, not wanting to be left out.  We were a happy family once again.

Sue’s old flame, Rigby, was doing his compulsory 2 year army training.  They hadn’t seen each other since they were 16.  A common friend told Rigby that Sue had gone “all religious.”  He wrote to her to find out.  Lindy and I heard he was going to meet Sue, outside her bank, for lunch on Saturday.  He had a weekend pass.  We saw him there way ahead of time and we ran up to tell Sue that he was downstairs.  She told us to stop spying.  Well we didn’t stop.  We watched them from across the road. They walked into the Golden Egg Restaurant at 320 West Street.  It was so romantic.  He went back to finish his training and we didn’t see him for a while.

One day when we were having fun in the pool, Rigby walked up our drive-way in his army uniform.  He looked so handsome.  Dad was still cautious but mum welcomed him with open arms and a toasted avocado sandwich.  There was lots of talk.  I liked him.  He talked a lot about his baby sister Tiffany who he loved to bits and his big sister Vanessa who he didn’t see much.   Their mum died of cancer when Tiffany was three.  He told us about his stepmother and his step sisters.  It sounded like a Grimm’s fairytale to me.

He wanted to know all about our family.  There was lots of talk about our new found faith.  He wanted to know everything.  We happily gave him everything.   I mean everything.  I thought we wouldn’t see him again.  One rainy night on his way back to camp, he cried to God about his wasted life and got a new one.

Whoever would have thought that a chocolate crunchy could have caused all that?

(See- Dad was a D.J)

Post 22. Decisions, decisions

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We never talked about what we believed.  There were no discussions of politics or religion.  What we did during the week had nothing to do with what we did on Sundays.   I was surprised at how much Lindy’s family talked about it.

One night, just before going to sleep, Lindy asked me, “Linda, if you died tonight and you stood before God and He asked you, ‘Why should I let you into heaven?’ what would you say?”  I had no problem answering.  We go to church.  We pray.  My dad is the superintendent of the Sunday school and my mom is a Sunday school teacher.  We are Christians.

She didn’t seem satisfied with my answers. She prodded me a bit more.  I came up with other reasons.  She still wasn’t happy.  She asked me to forget about my family.  She was talking about ME.

I had managed to get out of many tight spots.  My cuteness and sense of humour worked for me.  I suddenly realised that it wasn’t going to work this time.  We were talking about GOD; The God who Tommy had sung about. The one that I had prayed to every night for fear that, “If I should die before I wake…”

Things were starting to make sense; the Christmas story, Easter, the Sunday school songs and Bible stories came together like puzzle pieces. Because the people of the world were so full of sin, God sent His only son Jesus to die for them.  That was Christmas.  He lived a life without sin, but evil men didn’t like how good He was so they put Him on a cross.  That was Easter Friday.  Easter Monday He came alive again.

I believed all of that and I was proud of myself for working it all out.  Lindy still wasn’t happy.  She kept saying that she loved me and she wanted me to be in heaven with her.  So, what would I say to God?  None of my answers were going to be good enough.  I knew that I wasn’t good enough to get into heaven.  I needed some help.  Lindy told me I needed to be “born again”.

It was news to me that I was loved by God.  I knew that He loved the world, but I never thought that included me.  I found that amazing.  I didn’t need to clean myself up or try to be good enough.   I just had to see how bad I was, ask God to forgive me and give my whole life over to Jesus.  No-one in our church ever told me that.

It took me months of listening to lots of sermons at Lindy’s church.  I was scared of what my family would say if I told them I was “born again.”  That was just for the Pentecostals, not for the Methodists.  My friends were convinced I had gone crazy.

I kept going to the Friday night parties but they started to feel empty.  Even the one when a territorial fight broke out between the Woodlands boys and the Bluff boys.  Bottles were broken and there was a lot of blood. I was bored and just wanted to go home.