We next flew the hour flight from Cape Town to George on a small plane, where we were picked up by Cedric and his daughter Brumilda. We then drove from the coast inland over a set of mountains to Oudtshoorn, the "ostrich capital of the world". It is a small yet important town in South Africa and one of the centers of Afrikaans culture. In the late 1800s there was a huge boom in the Ostrich market; ostrich feathers were as valuable as diamonds. This brought a huge amount of wealth to this rugged town built in the little karoo, which is what the locals call the semi-arid desert region they live in.
Cedric lives here with his wife Lidia, her mother Anna-Marie, and their two children, Brumilda, 14, previously mentioned, and Walter, who is turning 10 years old on Feast of Trumpets. They are helping me write this report right now. They are kind enough to let us stay in their guesthouse next door. Adrian is happy to be at a house where he can have some home cooked steamed vegetables to eat after really pushing his stomach to the limit eating at restaurants in Cape Town. I myself could use a little rest; I haven't been handling the cold weather well. So excuse any lack of detail on my part in this report.
We got into Oudtshoorn in the afternoon and had a meeting straight away. Adrian gave his testimony and then, on being asked about the ten virgins and their oil, launched into an explanation of the true 6000 year cross, which is where we ended the meetings in Cape Town the day before. It had been on Adrian's mind: why is it that both the foolish and the wise virgins slept? We think there is a connection to Matthew 26, when Jesus asks Peter, James, and John to watch with him in the Garden of Gethsemane, yet they were drowsy and could not stay up, not even one hour. The disciples wanted to stay up with Jesus but their flesh couldn't handle it; likewise we are struck by how Jesus continues to carry the sin of the world today, feeling all the suffering in the world, yet we quickly fall back asleep - the cross is too bright, it humiliates us, it connects us to all flesh and forces us to look through the eyes of the poor, hungry, and suffering. It was a sober start to the meetings. It is a message that I pray helps us break out of our narrow-minded self-interest; we won't want to sin anymore because we empathize so deeply with our Savior.
On Monday we went to the Cango Caves. It was beautiful to see how water and time can carve out such beautiful structures in darkness where only recently man's eyes have been able to penetrate. I read how there was no life in the caves, but when light is brought in, even artificial light, algae can feed off it and this starts the food chain of life. Therefore they cannot keep the rooms permanently lit; they must turn the lights off most of the time to not upset the ecosystem. The rooms are weakly lit up for us to walk through, and then at certain points they turn on all the lights for 5 minutes for our tour group to see the cavern in its full beauty. In a way this is a metaphor for the gospel, only the outlines have been understood, much was in darkness. Only when God in his mercy shines more light can we see and understand the Gospel in its fullness. Yet our flesh cannot handle too much light, God must gently show us. When the light reveals to us more of the Gospel, yet we then reject or turn away from it, we leave ourselves in a dangerous situation. Therefore God must be careful how he deals with us. God’s mercy is everlasting (Psalm 100:5), and we know that we will be studying the glory of God for all eternity.
Most of the people who attended the meeting were farmers. Cedric himself comes from a farming family. His parents, like most other Afrikaans people, were part of the Dutch Reform Church. They were required to bring their children to study to be confirmed as members, but the church was far and it was highly inconvenient to go. There were doctors in town that were Adventists, and these doctors said that their pastor would come and teach the children at their own house. This led to their involvement in the church; it was based on practical help for the children and an easing of the parents' burden. Now Cedric is an important part of what is going on here. This shows the importance of family work, in the homes, which is going to become more and more important as we try to self-organize. Families need to be stabilized, patterned off the Father-Son relationship, or their instabilities will bring chaos into home churches.
Tuesday we went to an Ostrich Farm, the highlight for me of the touristy things we did. These strong, strangely regal birds with their totally opaque eyes are a fascinating sight on the flat rocky bushland of the little karoo. They have no teeth to grind the rockhard old corn we fed them; they must eat pebbles to grind it up. I got a chance to ride one, holding their wings as they ran powerfully in circles with the handler making sure she didn't get too wild. Amazing experience! There are many verses in the Bible that talk of ostriches, in the KJV it is often translated owl but in actuality it is an ostrich. I quote from Isaiah 43:19-20 in the Revised Standard Version:
“Remember not the former things,
nor consider the things of old.
19 Behold, I am doing a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
and rivers in the desert.
20 The wild beasts will honor me,
the jackals and the ostriches;
for I give water in the wilderness,
rivers in the desert,
to give drink to my chosen people,
21 the people whom I formed for myself
that they might declare my praise.
Much time was spent on the Divine Pattern as it was connected to the families, and also the Old and New Covenants and the Law. This gave a positive force to the Father-Son message rather than just focusing on the errors of believing the Holy Spirit is a 3rd being, a complicated place to begin a discussion. We believe that focusing on the relationship of the Father to the Son is more productive, it helps families, it makes sense of many Bible passages, and is a blessing in how to deal with authority in its understanding of Jesus, our perfect example. The parallel of the book of the law being on the right hand side of the 10 commandments (transcript of God's character), as Jesus sits at the right hand side of the Father was found helpful, explaining their relationship – brightness, magnification, glory. This leads us to be careful about dismissing the statutes and judgments. As there is a severe drought here in the area around Oudsthoorn which really adversely affects the farmers who attended, they were really struck by Leviticus 26:3-4
If ye walk in my statutes, and keep my commandments, and do them;
4 Then I will give you rain in due season, and the land shall yield her increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit.
We prayed for this promise, particularly as we entered the Feast of Trumpets. Thunder was heard, but still no rain. I pray that that we may come together and really repent for ourselves and for our brethren, like Daniel, on the Day of Atonement and receive the rain we so dearly need. It's so easy to say that others are in error, that they are wrong, but we must not forget that we also worshiped false gods, that it was difficult for us, that it is Jesus who draws us to the Father - not anything good in us. We are not attending these meetings because we are clever. "There is none righteous, no not one." Does a baby know anything about its own birth? We can only cultivate a spirit of repentance and humility to be ready when the spirit of God convicts us of sin to immediately confess it and allow grace to abound. As a friend of mine, Jeffrey Cleasby mentioned, “seek ye the LORD while he may be found” in Isaiah 55:6 can be translated as “inquire of” or “pay attention to the LORD”, as stated by Robert Wieland. I quote him quoting AT Jones below:
“A. T. Jones, one of the 1888 "messengers," caught the idea of Christ taking the initiative. "It has always been Satan's deception to get people to think that Christ is as far away as it is possible to put Him. The farther away men put Christ, even those who profess to believe in Him, the better the devil is satisfied; and then he will stir up the enmity that is in the natural heart ...
"He will prepare us; we cannot prepare ourselves. ... No master workman looks at a piece of work he is doing, as it is half finished, and begins to find fault with that. It is not finished yet. It would be an awful thing if the wondrous Master Workman were to look at us as we are half finished, and say, That is good for nothing. He goes on with His wondrous work. ...
Praise God! As I have travelled I have felt convicted that we need to repent of the little errors in our character, in how we treat our friends, family, neighbors, and servants...then more fully can the spirit move. "He who faithfully performs small duties will be prepared to answer the demands of larger responsibilities. The man who is kind and courteous in the daily life, who is generous and forbearing in his family, whose constant aim it is to make home happy, will be the first to deny self and make sacrifices when the Master calls." (Messages for Young People, pg. 143) Men have many reasons to deny truth, whether it be for reasons monetary, social, family...we don't need to have our own personal faults and sins also get in the way. Satan will whisper to them: "how can their doctrine be true? Only a few believe it and they fight amongst themselves and they are rude and impatient and overbearing etc etc. So I pray that we realize the importance of what we are doing and ask Jesus to help us overcome our individual character flaws.
We recognized that the Feast of Trumpets has double the sacrifices and bread and oil of a normal new moon, just as a Sabbath has double the amount of a normal weekday (Numbers 29:6). This means 8x a normal Sabbath, which would carry us nearly to the Day of Atonement. Holy Spirit is given to us to convict us of sin, so we may “afflict our souls”. Our natural carnal nature doesn’t allow us to repent, because we have the spirit of Satan, who never “tested the forgiving love of God; for he never exercised genuine repentance” (RH March 9, 1897). So we praise God when we recognize our own sins, thanking Jesus that we can confess them and receive his grace that imparts life. The trials of everyday life become a blessing, as they show us more and more of our own flawed character and reveal hidden sins, which we can with joy confess to our Master and then allow Christ to overcome in us.
Yet it is difficult for us to worship and believe that which we cannot see, that is why we ask God to “help us our unbelief”. That is why the process of sanctification , the fruits of the transformation that Christ works in us is so important – let us not forget how he has led us and worked in us. I think of my Thai brothers and sisters who need an image, an idol, to worship, and find it difficult to perceive that which is unseen. We see this is in our inexplicable inability to see the cross the Jesus bears for us, for “in him all things consist”. Adrian mentions how there are only two places where Jesus was “much displeased” in the gospels. One is the arguing of the disciples amongst themselves of who is the greatest; the other is when the disciples rebuked parents who would have Jesus bless their children. Children need a channel to feel God’s love, which in the family system should come through the father. We need to be as little children, and we should respect the authorities God uses to bless us. This is so even if the authority is wicked, for nothing is beyond God, who made Saul bless David saying: “Thou art more righteous than I: for thou hast rewarded me good, whereas I have rewarded thee evil.” (1 Samuel 24:17) When children see Christ in their parents, they will come to see Christ as real in their own lives.
We all notice that respect for our elders and parents is quickly fading from this world, and the fruition of the message of turning the “hearts of the fathers to children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse” (Malachi 4:6). This is why Adrian is so keen on performing the blessing ceremony, praying over the people, and encouraging those who listen to do so with their own families and particularly their children. This he did on the Feast of Trumpets at Cedric’s house at Oudtshoorn, and the spirit poured out and many were blessed. We need the spirit to melt our stony hearts and allow us to forgive one another, to be kind to each other, speaking words of beneficence to each other that we have long told ourselves are meaningless and clichéd. “Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.” (Proverbs 18:21) The family said very nice words to us regarding the messages and how much they were blessed, and Brumilda, the daughter, was convicted and chose to be baptized. Praise God.
Friday it was off to the airport for the two hour flight northeast to the hotter climate of Johannesburg. We were picked up by Pieter, who then drove us to his house in Heidelberg. We past a huge Tailings Dam, where they lay all the leftover dirt sifted of gold. Many chemicals are used in the process and the places where such structures exist can be toxic. The gold rushes of the late 1800s led into the extreme growth that has turned Johannesburg into a major metropolis, to which people from all over Africa come looking for work. All of the different tribes and dialects that I have heard mentioned make my head spin, just as hearing how one man told me that he wants to learn Ethiopian to preach to them, which I wouldn’t have expected as Ethiopia is so far away.
Peter and his wife Tersia are gracious hosts with a beautiful house. They have a home church here and even organize meetings over extended periods, as they have many extra beds and people also camp on the lawn. I noticed immediately that the group was more diverse consisting of blacks of different backgrounds (Zimbabwe, Mozambique, etc.) along with Afrikaans from different places. Personally for me, being of mixed race and growing up in an international environment, I like to see different cultures mixing together. South Africa has a huge variety of languages and cultures, almost everybody knows at least two languages – their own language and English which is the lingua franca. I met another worker named Andrew who is originally from Mozambique, he told me how he had to flee from that country or he would be forced into warfare as a child soldier.
It was nice to see my friend Pastor Louis Hofmeyr again, who I met in Australia. He will travel with us for some time as we go to Pretoria on Monday, and then to Nelspruit. His wife was also disfellowshiped, something that is not usually done, showing that they don’t mess around here in South Africa. Tersia and Pieter live near some nice walking trails with beautiful views, and Louis is famous among this group for being the guide on these walks.
I haven’t had a chance to write for many days, and much has happened so I will try to get it all down. Phillip came at 8am to drive us toward Pretoria, we had to hurry to meet Pastor Vusi, leader of a church in a Shantytown (i.e. informal settlement or squatter camp) in Springs. We squeezed in one more short talk on ‘The Penalty of Sin’ and we were off. Pastor Louis also came with us.
We were excited because we were able to make contact with this group thanks to the hard work done by Phillip Aspeling. Our schedule was set beforehand so it can be tricky to organize a meeting on short notice. We had a meeting at the hotel we were going to near Pretoria, but we had time along the way and so it became possible to arrange it. We met at an intersection next to a massive prison where hundreds were coming for visitations, and a car met us and led us through a nice neighbourhood before turning off into a vast, well-organized informal settlement. This was a first for us, so it was hugely exciting. There was no electricity there except from individual generators. There were porta-potties regularly placed through the neighbourhood because there is no sewage system.
This group of around 12 explained to us the problems in their conference, TOC, which is a huge conference with many baptisms but also is very poor. They were looking for truth, and were interested in Feasts and there was a man visiting who also was Father-Son. Adrian presented on multiple issues and it was well received. They asked excellent questions on the 3 Angel’s Message, on Adventist History, and other issues. Louis was amazed at the depth of the questions and their level of English. We gave them many books and I was encouraged by the thought that because they had no electricity they would not be distracted by TV. Vusi later would come to the Feast of Tabernacles. He told me how he had formerly been a drug addict and was shown in a vision how God had been protecting him throughout his life while he was unaware, and then told he should keep the new moons and the Sabbaths. Isaiah 66:23 has been a verse used by the Lord to work at many people’s minds to lead them into more truth!
The chieftains/representative leaders came over to see what we were doing so we also gave them books. They took us to their office and shared with us their difficulties. They said because there are no lights that at night it gets really dangerous. I was offered a free shack if I wanted one; they told me I must accept the deal quickly as their shantytown only had space to accept a few more people. They were nice to us, and told us if we came again we could speak to a huge audience. It was strange for me to see some of the shacks with new cars parked outside. I was told that a new house is expensive, so when people got money they would spend it on clothes, furniture, or a car and continue to live in their shack.
We then continued on our journey, checking in at a nice hotel, where we would have the afternoon meeting. There are not many messages that are shared in such varying locations. Locals in the area came over. I caught the end of this meeting, where the Laodicean issue was discussed. Adrian brought up the end of the book of John where Jesus asked Peter if Peter loved (agape’d) Him. (John 21:15). Peter responded that he “phileo’d” him. Jesus asks again, wanting Peter to respond with agape, but he gets only phileo. Finally he asks Peter phileo rather than agape, and this “grieved” Peter. That this is at the end of the gospel of John, repeated over and over, shows how much Jesus wants us to respond to Him with agape, but it also shows how difficult it is for us to do so – to believe we are forgiven. Yet this is what Laodicea must do to overcome, for it states in Revelation 3:19 – “As many as I PHILEO (love), I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.” In 2 Peter, chapter 1, Peter gives a process of adding Christian character traits upon character traits leading towards perfection. The second to last step is brotherly kindness, phileo, which needs agape, love/charity added to it. Is the phileo of Philadelphia enough? Or is Laodicea a process that all must go through to be purified in this end time, to reach perfect agape?
The Pharisee and the publican represent the two great classes into which those who come to worship God are divided. Their first two representatives are found in the first two children that were born into the world…The sense of need, the recognition of our poverty and sin, is the very first condition of acceptance with God. “Blessed are the poor in spirit; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”(Matthew 5:3) For each of the classes represented by the Pharisee and the publican there is a lesson in the history of the apostle Peter…Christ after His resurrection thrice tested Peter. “Simon, son of Jonas,”He said, “lovest thou Me more than these?” Peter did not exalt himself above his brethren. He appealed to the One who could read His heart. “Lord,” he said, “Thou knowest all things; Thou knowest that I love Thee.” John 21:15, 17.
God first must convict us of our Laodicean condition, by revealing to us the full power of the statutes and judgments and the testimonies (Malachi 4:4). Entering in with Jesus into the Most Holy Place reveals your sin, to give you grace (Romans 5:20), but we need to know the goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering of God to repent (Romans 2:4). Then we must believe we are forgiven, unlike Cain, who erroneously believed “that my sins are greater than can be forgiven.” Such a mind is from Satan, which we have inhererited.
Dullstroom and Nelspruit (Mpumalanga)
We were picked up at the hotel by Franscois and his 14 year old son Hugo on Tuesday, September 26. He drove us several hours northeast to Mpumalanga, a famous tourist area of South Africa famous for Kruger National Park, where the “Big 5”reside – rhino, lion, cheetah, elephant, buffalo (I think). We said goodbye to Philip as he left us in the care of Franscois.
Franscois is a man of great passion and zeal for study of the truth, and we eagerly discussed matters of scripture, our past experience, and how God has led. He and his wife Leizl are former Calvinists, and he related to us how difficult for him it was to break from predestination and how joyous he was when he originally realized that Christ took our post-fall nature upon him – something that got him into lots of trouble when he began to enthusiastically share it with everyone he met in 2006 when he became an Adventist. I understood him well, because prior to his conversion he also spent a lot of time reading philosophy, living in the world, and trying to find answers in variations of the esoteric mysteries. His outlook on Adventism was new to me; his interest in the nature of Christ, his study of Thomas Paine, his wrestling with Calvin – this was all very interesting to me.
We drove to Dullstroom and met his wife and younger son Fransu at their health food shop. We spent the night at his farm, where I went through his library. He told us how difficult a struggle it was for him not to become bitter, being a deeply principled man who stands up for what is right yet being constantly misunderstood. He told us a story of a man that he met in Zimbabwe who told him to look at Acts 8 when he was persecuted (“Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word” I am guessing) and not let rebellion enter into his heart. It later turned out that that man was famous there for wearing Catholic priest garments and being led by the spirit to different catholic churches on Sunday, where the residing priest would be sick. He would then preach righteousness by faith in the church in place of the sick priest and then baptize those listening! It was the type of thing that I think could only happen in Africa, and I write it not recommending that anybody do in like manner.
We then left the next day to do meetings at Bhukozi’s missionary school, which was outside Nelspruit in a really underdeveloped township. I was told that this was tribal land, where leases were given out by tribal chiefs. Bhukozi himself is a self educated 3rd generation Adventist who had a serious conversion experience when God blessed him with English and convinced him that he needed to enter the work. After much trial with the church he read AT Jones’ book “The Place of the Bible in Education” and became convinced that he needed to start his own medical missionary school. He met Franscois at Franscois’ health food shop in Nelspruit, where Bhukozi marvelled at all the 1888 books. They bonded on the matter, and I found it very interesting that the night before Franscois pointed out that same AT Jones book to me and said how much it meant to him.
I was hugely impressed by Bhukozi and the work he and his team were doing there at this school. They loved the message, and because of their study of 1888 material they were ready for it. I also had the pleasure of spending time with the younger children, teaching them geography, and then they led Hugo and I up to the mountain top. We heard strange chanting on the other side of the hill, and having heard all the stories of witches from the children I was nervous to see what this strange group in white robes was doing. They were prostrated, singing and chanting towards the East. It turned out that they were a Sabbath keeping church that worships the Sun that is famous for wearing white and not doing anything all of Saturday and Sunday – I was told they were known as extra lazy sabbathkeepers… Strange stuff!
Bhukozi told us how he became convicted that we needed to be more serious about education. He originally worked with the church, but when he preached one day about homeschooling many listening took their children out of the secular schools in response and decided to homeschool. This alarmed the church and 13 people were disfellowshipped, including Bhukozi. Basically the reasoning is it looks bad for the church and its irresponsible and dangerous for the families. One of the men who was disfellowshipped came to the meetings and also thoroughly enjoyed the talks.
I really hope this school takes to the message because I would love to go back. They construct the buildings themselves; they have gardens, and the children even decide their own menu of what to cook. And wow can they sing! Maybe at some point we will put some of the songs on youtube and link them to here. They loved the identity message, the principles of headship and the divine pattern to male-female relationships, and how the 144,000 is not to have guile in their mouth. Praise God that people can be so educated outside of what the world sees as “proper channels of education”. God leads his people and he led us to them. They asked very penetrating questions and wrestled with the subjects presented. A total of five hours of presentations were given over two days. At one point, one of the young men walked from the building holding his head saying “too much light, too much light!” yet having a broad smile on his face.
This school was a far drive from the guesthouse where we were staying, where we had our next series of meetings. We meet two sisters, Rose and Jenny, who learned of the 1888 message in the late 90’s through Alexander Snyman and were the ones that shared it to Francois. They were very excited to learn the new truths on the begotten son. We had Sabbath at Jenny’s house as there was a wedding at the guesthouse, where the bride actually punched the guesthouse owner!
An interlude here to praise the great work done by Robert Wieland. To us now it seems hard to imagine his message of 1888 revival having such resistance, but as I talked to Jenny and how the church in the late 90’s bitterly opposed any mention of 1888, even coming to her house and blasting her for such things. I marvel that Wieland so kept his cool, retaining a posture of submission as he long struggled to bring out the truth. His ability to draw from proper authority: scripture, to Ellen White, to Jones and Waggoner – and creatively yet simply express profound ideas is truly a blessing from God. And the peace and comfort through his precise clarity of thought lays a firm foundation for the message we are sharing.
Rose decided to be baptized on Sunday, and as we concluded our series of meetings on the Day of Atonement. Franscois had invited many people to come to the meetings including his enemies. One young man who did come was a Pentecostal who ran his own skateboard ministry. After the first session on the character of God, he rang his wife and told her that he had to stay and listen to this Bible truth. He was compelled by it. At the end of the meeting a number of folk asked Adrian to offer a prayer of blessing for them. This young man also asked for prayer and took some books and downloaded everything online about the character of our Father.
During the meetings much was discussed about repentance, and Franscois told an amazing story. He related how he was studying Peter’s address in Acts 2 that converted 3000 souls, and wondering what it was in the sermon that brought such a great response. He locked in on verse 30, and the question came to him, why David? Why is David a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22)? Francois was asking around about this, and he was at a watch store selling watches, and he asked the owner whom he knew. There was an older black woman there in tattered clothing behind him who then said “woo..look and learn mister” (speaking in Afrikaans). She then fell on her knees and began supplicating with God saying “show me my sins, please show me my sins”. She then went prostrate and pleaded for forgiveness of sins. She then said “Lord, help me up, I can’t get up”...and then it was as if she rose up floating, hands in the air with peace in her countenance and light and victory in her eyes. She then said to Francois, “Now do you know the answer to the question: ‘Why David’? True repentance!
After much excitement we went back to Pieter and Tersia’s house to fly to Durban, KwaZulu-Natal. Ben Kramlich would meet us there, while Gary and Caroline Hullquist would have another opportunity to visit Bhukozi’s school, where some more interesting events would unfold. Empangeni would be our last stop before heading to Pietermaritzburg for the Feast of Tabernacles.