ANNIE'S VICTORY STORY:
My testimony would have to start with my childhood because it was at that time the foundation was laid for my present ministry.
I was born in Holland, in a small town in the North. As a little girl I had a great desire to look after people. I used to set up a hospital in the attic at home; two chairs put together served a bed and the children in the street as my patients. I never aspired to be a doctor; I was a nursing sister in my make believe. I used to visit families in our own small town of 3000 people, who were considered to be dirty and clean their homes. I was told only a few years ago by an old lady I met again after many years that I would come to her house at the age of 11 years and clean up. I was a defender of the outcast. We had a canal through the town and boats with goods would be unloaded, the boats would be in town for a few weeks, the boat people were considered dirty and our parents forbade to associate with them, the forbidding was enough for to associate with them, it would reduce me to tears if these children were ignored at our local schools, often they were gypsies and I thought of them to be so beautiful.
I was brought up in a Dutch Reformed home and although my parents were dutiful church goers and the scriptures were read twice a day, we did not know about being born again. Nevertheless had a desire for God from a very young age and I believe that my parents instilled this, although I may have been a form of religion, the seed was sown and fell on fertile ground. At the age of 15, 1 developed a great desire to serve the Lord. One night, asleep in a very small bedroom, after we had moved to the city, God called me audibly by my name. I knew it was Him and I responded by telling Him that I would serve Him. We lived in a block of flats and next to it was the Catholic Hospital, which became my spiritual haven. I had set my sight on becoming a nun. I knew no other way to serve God, but by becoming a nun. I went to conformation classes but could not go through with it. I told the Reverend that I wanted to serve God and he was unable to tell me how to do it any other way then what I had in mind and that was to be a nun.
My early teenage years were often spent with people who were the outcasts in our society like the dark people from Indonesia and Suriname. At the young age of 16 I started my nursing career in a Psychiatric Hospital away from home. I enjoyed the social life with my colleges we had so much fun, but I was exposed to far too much misery at such a young age, the pain seriously affected my life and misery I found myself surrounded by, day in and day out.
One evening I found one of my patients had hanged herself, this experience had a bad effect on me and I had a nervous breakdown myself. I ended up in hospital but I was sent home and locked up in a bedroom at my parent's home while waiting admission to a Psychiatric hospital. It was during this time that my cousin asked my parents if they would allow her to take me to a gospel meeting. My parents, already guilt ridden for having allowed me to go and work at a Psychiatric hospital at such a young age, were only pleased to allow me to accompany her, I believe, because she was a nursing sister.
It was Easter 1963. I remember nothing of the preaching by Brother Andrew, but when he appealed to us to give our lives to Jesus and be born again, on the side of the stage was brother Andrew and on the other side I clearly saw Jesus with His arms spread open and I ran to Him and found healing in His loving Arms. I was well again but advised by doctors to never again go back into the den of the lions - this is what the Psychiatric hospital became to me. I missed my friends but continued nursing in a TB hospital. After my conversion I became a fervent evangelist. I had a very close walk with God. All my free hours were spent on the street corners and in bars with my colored friend from Suriname. We sang and preached everywhere and jealousy guarded our relationship with Him who was the only one that mattered to us.
I greatly desired to go to Bible College in the UK but my father wanted his big girl to stay close to home. On the day of my 21st Birthday, I could at last go and get my passport without my fathers permission, two weeks later I arrived in the UK.
Had I only listened to my father, I believe life would have taken a different turn and I would not have wasted so many years of my life. I was desperately in love with Jesus. I did however have to improve my English before I could go to Bible College. Whilst doing so, I worked as an au pair girl. I remember that in between my work I would go to my bedroom, put the blankets over my head and have my short break with Jesus, I could never wait very long to tell Him how much I loved him, and how precious He is to me.
It was during this time I met the Father of my children. He was a director for General Motors Finance Corporation and we married after only 3 months of courtship. Eleven days after our wedding we were transferred to Johannesburg, South Africa. It was a big mistake, but seventeen years of great spiritual growth despite his extreme jealousy of my relationship with Jesus and the abuse that my children and I endured. It was impossible to break my spirit although there were a few times that it came close, but I had God's word in my heart.
In the early 1980's, after my children were a little older, I felt the calling of God to work in Alexandra Township. I would drive passed Alexandra and cry bitterly when I saw the pain and sorrow as a result of poverty and ignorance.
It was in May 1980 when Alexandra Bible Church was established; it is today the largest congregation in Alexandra. I had no experience as a pastor, I was the preacher, song leader and everything else there was to be. The pulpit at first was a bread tin on a table.
The first meeting was a miracle meeting. God healed a young man called Peter, he was an alcoholic and as he called it, not on the bottle but in the bottle with the cork on top. He was delivered from alcohol after prayer and now nearly twenty years later is still free. A man with asthma was totally healed, a lady who had a noticeable third breast, which was a growth, had it totally disappear and an old grandmother who was completely blind began to receive part of her sight - after six weeks she was totally healed. This was a meeting of nine people. I was overjoyed and believed that this little house would be too small the following week. Only seven people joined us the following week, I was so disappointed but was simply reminded of God's word and continued to believe.
The house was soon too small and we moved to a classroom and from there to the hall at a men's hostel. The congregation was growing and I believed God for a black pastor who would come and take over the congregation. The Mayor of the town had given me a lovely office with furniture, free of charge. I was known as Sister Annie in this small town of one square mile. I was blessed with loads of food for the people, clothing came by the bags full - what a joy to spoil the people who were poor and down trodden. I would pick up babies from their begging mothers, take them to my office and give them a bath and a meal. Then I would take them back to their mothers who I think hoped I would keep them as they were such a burden in this poverty stricken township. There was also a negative side - I received death threats as a result of young people being born again into the Kingdom of God, forsaking witchcraft and not giving their lives to it. There was also a knife wielding men wanting to steal my car, but the blood of Jesus was covering me at all times.
I spent everyday of the year of 1982 at Rhema Bible College from 5pm - 9pm; it was a glorious time for me. In 1983 the father of my children left us, for three years we had no idea were he was. We later found out that he had moved back to the UK.
My church, which I had attended since 1980, asked me to concentrate on my children until the time was right for me to continue my ministry.
In 1986 I went back into Alexandra as the area leader for Rhema Bible Church, by 1991 I had established fifteen home churches and started Sunday afternoon services. I became however very much aware that as a church we had to attend to the three dimensions being the spirit, soul and body. I wanted to start income generating activities with the people but the church simply forbade it as they felt I was working too hard. At the time I was a company director in a holding company which meant I had to attend several board meetings. I resigned and started my own management consulting business and resigned as area leader in the church as it went against my conscious just to preach the gospel and not attend to the other areas in the life of the needy.
While coming to Malawi in 1991 on a mission trip, I met my husband, who is a pastor. He had lost his wife the previous year. He was well known to me as he had spent a year as a guest in our home, while we attended Bible College in 1982. It was at that time that he proposed to me, although I was very much attracted to him, I wasn't prepared to even consider his proposal. I was well off, lived in a nice home, while he on the other hand was as poor as a church mouse. Besides that he was a black man from a very different culture, education and background.
I recall his car in which he collected me from the Airport: the windscreen was a piece of plastic and we would have to push start the car every time we wanted to make a move. After I got back to South Africa, he continually phoned me and asked if we were to marry in South Africa or Malawi. My response would be “neither” and he in return would say, "You're a woman of God, you will listen". It was not long before the Father began to talk to me about Malawi. I knew better than to go against the will of God and in October 1992 I decided to go to Malawi. I boarded the plane with the intention of letting Lewis know that I was coming because GOD had called me there and not for him. God had very different plans for me and ten days later I returned to South Africa engaged to be married.
The following eight months were not so easy, I had to sell my house, but with all the political upheaval in South Africa at the time it was impossible for me. If my house was not sold I would not have been able to finance the container load of my furniture which needed to be transported to Malawi.
My future husband was a very poor man and I could not live with what he had - so I thought. God had to deal with me, I then realized that it had been so easy to sing the song " I surrender, I surrender all ", I now found myself in a situation that I could not even surrender a table, it was MINE. I also experienced nightmares about poverty as my future husband had no income to speak of and where was I going to live since there was no money.
One evening I walked through my house and confessed to Him all my sin, but I also told the Lord that I was willing to change my heart as I seemed to be so attached to my worldly goods. I asked Him to change me to such an extent that should I give it up I would be expecting a hundredfold return. He worked on my heart as I allowed Him to, and it was not long before I gave everything away in my mind without feeling stressed about it. It was after this that my house was sold and I was able to take my furniture.
I arrived in the country on the 1st day of August and was quite unaware of the preparations for the wedding, although I had made it quite clear that I wanted a small wedding, it was quite the contrary. I still had the feeling that being divorced was not exactly victory and although I knew it was God's Will for us to be married, we had to consider the circumstances. It seemed that I was the only one who considered the past.
Our wedding was celebrated on the 7th of August 1993; it was really a memorable day. I had ten bridesmaids and at the reception, we had five hundred guests - many people had contributed to making it a memorable day. A honeymoon was out of the question; money was given to us to spend our first wedding night in one of the hotels in Blantyre.
The greatest adventure was about to begin. I moved into "Lewis home" which was a dilapidated ten bedroom home; the room in which he lived was the only room that had glass in the windowpanes. The rats were playing football in the roof and believe me there were many because of the maize that was stored in the house. I had no kitchen and the food was cooked outside on a fire, my toast I made on the electric heater in the morning. We had a big drum on a fire outside with water; buckets of water would be carried inside for me to bath. A change of life, I would say a very big change but I was ever so happy being in full-time ministry. At last I was in the center of God's Will with a loving and caring husband by my side.
My marriage and joy would however be sorely tested in the time to come. Next to the big house was a cottage with five rooms occupied by Lewis’s daughter and her five children, as well as the unmarried son and daughter and three illegitimate grandsons. All of them were very poor. The very colour of my skin gave them the impression that I was rich and to be taken advantage of in more than one way. At every opportunity they broke into our room and even came through the roof to steal whatever was available.
Six weeks later, we moved into a lovely little house on the farm next to the big house. We continued to use the room as storage space because the house became too small after my container of furniture arrived. I was very involved in helping the family and trying to educate the children. All this made no difference to the stealing. At one stage I brought 1200 chickens for one of the grandsons to manage so he could earn some income. It was not long before there were no longer any chickens to be sold nor any money to buy more. I began to wonder how I was going to "Walk in Love", with these people. Even my vegetable garden was not safe; it was there in the evening and gone in the morning.
Our financial situation had improved. I realised I had better do something and after having made a pretty toilet set which was sold very quickly, I brought more material and sold some more. It became an on going business that enabled me to employ a Taylor. I continued to keep my eyes on Jesus. The family was set on making life extremely difficult for me; I was seen as the wealthy lady who was now making their father into a "white man". The more the devil came for me the stronger I got in Jesus. I wonder why he even bothered with me because it had the opposite effect, I know in Whom I believe.
The work I was doing with the Taylor was great but was not helping the poverty in the village in which I was living. I then decided that the work we were doing would have to involve some of the ladies from the village - this became a great success. We began to make quilts, which went all over the world. At the same time I started an Organisation for pastors wives. Knowing the situation in their homes, as I was one myself, I started training fifty pastors' wives in income generating activities and started them off in business. Twenty three were financed by myself from the income of the project with the village women and twenty-seven by the Dutch Government.
Many courses were also done for the women in their congregations. Most of the little children were not attending school and the Lord spoke to me about that. Behind our big house was a chicken house and we turned it into a beautiful nursery school where the poorest of the poor were able to attend - all forty of them were three-year-olds. They came every day to receive medicine, food and clothing. Their little miserable lives changed, they were no longer lethargic and the Seed of the Word was sown into their lives. The name of the school was Kondanani; the President of Malawi conducted the official opening.
In between all these activities we had a car accident and I broke my back. Thank God for the help I had from two young women from a bible college in South Africa. They had come for six months to do their "practical". In March 1994, I laid a claim against the Malawi Government. A claim I had compiled after my husband complained to me about how they had taken his bus company in 1980, under judicial management, after money owed to the Government's Loan Bank was not repaid in time. This company should have been returned to him after some months. I still see it as a miracle from God, as we never went to court. I discussed the matter with the Attorney General whom in turn put me onto the Senior State Advocate and the Government signed the claim together with a cheque; it was not even a big battle. But it was the start of a big battle.
My husband decided to restore the big house, which caused his children to think that I would inherit the property, already they had tried to make my life a living hell. But I was so blessed and having such fun, I wasn't even moved by it. Besides that, I had the Lord as my shield and strength. Matters came to a head when one of Lewis’s sons, Madalo, was found dead on the 5th of September 1996. Lewis warned me that it was possible that his children, all adults I may add, would use this death against me. This was beyond my imagination and I went home to see the body and to help my husband. It was not long before a group of people were on their way wanting to kill me. The villagers had been told by the children of my husband that their brother had been poisoned by me, since death is never natural to the majority of Malawians, it's cause is always either poison or witchcraft.
It was not difficult to make them believe that their "white stepmother" had poisoned a young man who looked strong and healthy the day before. Revenge is very much part of the culture and I was condemned to death.
They of course forgot about the God of my salvation and I managed to get away as the angels were encamped around and about me. I was back two days later believing Father for my protection. I had a lot of responsibilities and there was also the school with the little ones. But I was never to see my little ones again. Every person working for me, there were a lot at the time because we were baking bricks for building purposes were all threatened and told by Lewis's son that if they continued working for me, "something bad would happen to them", to a Malawian that is enough to stay away. The property was taken over by the children and grand children. My husband was told by his son that if we entered we would be killed, adding that they would not do it themselves but get villages to do it for them. We had to go to court and after ten months, the property was returned to my husband, which included a restraining order, none of the children or their descendant has been allowed on the property again.
Various incidents happened in the next few weeks. It would be false to say that I felt loving and kind all the time, it was extremely trying to say the least. Without the Word of God so firmly implanted in my spirit, I could have lost complete control. By the 26th of September 1996, five teenage grand children were holding the fort; the police were doing nothing about the situation. The lady station commander told my husband "if you had married one of us (Malawian woman), you would not have this problem". On the morning of the 26th of September, after having been threatened with death continually I went to the Dutch Consulate to inform the government of my country that despite the threats on my life the police refused to give me protection. They said that I had not yet been harmed. I informed the State President with whom I spoke to for thirty minutes over the phone and neither was he prepared to do anything. When I arrived back home my husband told me that he had heard there were groups of villages with sticks, stones and pangas (which is a large type of knife).
I never actually believed that the villages would harm me as my life was spent helping them. I had just embarked on a new project of "Seed Multiplication" and had started in the last few weeks recruiting lady farmers; it would economically empower them to earn money to care for their families. I was always encouraged by the words of the apostle Paul in 1 Thessalonians 2:7 - 8. "But we were gentle among you just as a nursing mother cherishes her own children. So affectionately longing for you we were well pleased to import to you not only the gospel of God, but also our own lives because you had became dear to us".
It appeared however that they had chosen to believe that I had poisoned Madalo and as such should receive the ultimate penalty "death". At lunchtime a laborer came and told us that there was a group of people at the big house. Lewis and his cousin, who had come to support him in the struggle with his children, were under the impression that the groups planned to wreck the house. They went to the house and found all of the children had arrived as well. We did not realise that this was the day planned for my execution. I went to collect the police and had to beg them to come with me, on arrival at the big house my husband, his children and the police all went into the 4x4 and drove to the police station. I walked away from the mob without incident or fear, to our little house about 200m away. During the meeting at the police station the eldest daughter got up and left, hired a taxi and went back to the house and proceeded with the mob towards our house. When I saw them come it was to late for me to run away due to my back problem, I locked all the doors and hid under the bed in the main bedroom. The house was surrounded by about fifty people who were shouting, "Kill her, kill her,you white ... kill her!"
Never has there been a time in my life that I was so totally abandoned to my Father, I said to Him; "Father today I know, if You want me alive I will be alive, if You want me dead, I will die." I then had to laugh at my own thought; I said to myself, I wonder what I should call this movie afterwards. My husband arrived shortly after this, he called through the window for me, but I believed it was better at that stage not to answer him. When he went to drive away in his car, his tires had been slashed and the windscreen smashed. His daughter who headed up the mob gave the order to kill her father. Lewis ran with a young man wielding an axe in pursuit. God was gracious an angel came.... I believe this is what happened ... The young man tripped giving my husband the opportunity to get into the bush and that is where he stayed until dusk.
Meanwhile the mob decided to attack one of our watchmen, (we had five surrounding the house) but this one had a rifle, they tried to grab the rifle and during the struggle it went off and hit one of my attackers, a young 26 year old woman who was pregnant, she died instantly. They now blamed me for her death as well and were set on seeing my blood flow.
I could hear everything being smashed, the windows, and the doors and then finally my bedrooms door. I was pulled from under the bed, dragged outside and as it appeared at the mercy of the mob. Of course I was not at their mercy, I was cocooned in the love of God. I was smashed with stones cut with pangas in and out of consciousness, but fully aware that nothing could harm my spirit, I remember clearly thinking that “if they kill me it would be a short cut to heaven” and it held no fear for me, in fact I had such peace. The Greater One dwelled within me. What had happened in the meantime was that the watchman with the rifle had run away and got to the police station, two of the policemen got onto their bicycles to rescue me. I always find this very comical ... two policeman on their bicycles against a mob of fifty people. The mob had apparently decided that I was dead, I was in a feotus position and the cuts on legs made them think it was my intestines coming out, (as the story was told later). When the police arrived there was one person left, he was arrested, a car was found and I was taken to the bush clinic where they stitched me up like a Sunday roast chicken. At this time the pain was becoming very severe, it was not long afterwards when (delete) my friends came to take me to the hospital. I was soon reunited with my husband and I had a story to tell and everybody got to hear about God's power that delivered me.
After eight days in hospital where stones were thrown on the hospital roof. I was taken out and went into hiding for two days after which the manager of South African Airways put me into his car and drove me to a plane. He did all the formalities for me. When I was carried to the top of the stairs of the plane, I wept like never before; in fact during all this time I had not cried at all. So I arrived in South Africa, but in no ways defeated, in a wheelchair and what a sight... black and blue and my head twice the size. But I chose how to respond to the circumstances, which had befallen me. God's Word is true everything works together for good to those who love the Lord. I never lost my vision for Malawi, it was sometimes hard not knowing when I would be able to go back and I am glad that I did not know at the beginning that it would take a year and a half before I could go back. After having had medical care I looked for part time work, I had no choice, I had to eat and pay the rent. I started to visit the Malawians in the various hospitals in my spare time and helping where I could. Not for one moment did I ever think of forsaking the work in Malawi. I kept it in my heart and already just before the attack the Lord had spoken to me about the Aids orphans in Malawi.
In December 1996 God spoke very clearly to me about the life of Paul in Acts 14, Paul with Barnabas was ministering in lconium were great miracles took place but the minds of people were poisoned against them and an attempt was made to abuse and stone them, they fled to Lystra and Derby. In Lystra a cripple from his mothers womb was healed, they hailed Paul and Barnabas as Gods. Then the Jews from Antioch and lconium came, poisoned the minds of the people and Paul was stoned and left for dead, after prayer he rose up. But Paul went right back to where the incident happened, right back to where he had been abused, stoned and left for dead.
I was so struck by this story and knew God was talking to me, it meant I would go back to the place where it all had happened. My husband would not hear of it, because the village people had sworn that if I came back, I would not live. The owner of our little house had put the house up for sale while I was in South Africa, but I knew it was not to be sold to anyone. I said to my husband; "Daddy, this man is going to get into financial difficulty and the house will be auctioned and we will be able to buy it." I continued to remind God of His promise until I was fulfilled.
Forgiveness was a matter I had to work on especially when I found that everything had been destroyed. The day I saw the destruction of the school where those forty beautiful little ones lives were changed, I desired to drown the whole of Malawi in the Lake of Malawi! I went to Malawi just for two weeks, my husband did not know I was coming but I believed that there was healing in going back to where the trauma had taken place. I had a lot of work to do on my inner self. That afternoon after I saw the destruction, my husband said that he had spoken to my previous school gardener and he wanted to see me. When he came I was confronted with his beautiful story. He said; " Mum after you were attacked and could no longer look after those children, I carried on where you left off. I now have three schools. I was amazed and after visiting one of the schools I was no longer angry but gave God the Glory, one school had to die for three more to be raised up.
So the healing process started, it took the Word of God to teach me to forgive. His ways are the opposite of our ways. He warns us in Proverbs 24:17-18; "Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles, lest the Lord see it and it displeases Him and He turn away His wrath from him. In the Amplified Bible the last sentence reads in 'to expand it upon you the worst offender. Was it easy? No, but I had no wish to become a prisoner of unforgiveness.
God worked an amazing thing in my heart. I knew that although my heart said I had forgiven, how would I react when I could see them in the flesh. My time in South Africa was now beginning to come to an end although I was yet quite unaware of it. One Saturday in February 1998, I began to despair. I could not go back to our house, this meant we would have to hire a house in Blantyre, apart from the rents being very high and having to pay six months in advance, we had no money. I cried and prayed a lot that day and decided to phone my friend Wendy in the UK.
Wendy had come to stay with me in 1984 after she had finished Rhema Bible College and I was alone with my children. One day I took her to a small church run by friends of mine, she can sing beautifully and that is what she did that day. It was also a Divine appointment because that very day in the church she met Rory who is now her husband. In the meantime God had blessed Wendy and Rory and their dreams of running a Christian Television Channel, had come true. Rory picked up the phone when I rang and said to me that after I had spoken to Wendy he had to speak to me. Wendy questioned me a lot about my future plans and when Rory came to the phone he told me that the Lord had spoken to him about me that morning in his time of prayer, he just wanted to know why I was not back in Malawi. I decided to tell him the reason. Rory had planned to come to South Africa a week later.
We met in the Sandton Sun hotel, he promised the support of the "Christian Channel Europe" and the finances to go back home. It was amazing. I wrote in my dairy on the 2nd of December 1997 that the time to go back to Malawi is drawing near, even if someone offered me money to stay in South Africa, I would not stay, I had to go back to the place where I belonged. If I draw back from the calling of God on my life, His Soul would find no pleasure in me. And now was the time Glory!
Shortly after our meeting I flew to Malawi to find a house and found one very quickly. In the beginning of April 1998 I drove back in the pick-up for which Christian Channel provided finances. The tears flowed as I once again left behind my children and grandchildren; it was harder this time because the children and grandchildren I had hoped to gain in Malawi, I had lost. I did not know then how many grandchildren I would get from the Lord. About 150km before Harare in Zimbabwe I noticed an object lying across the road. It appeared to me as if it could be a snake, but so big? By the time I saw that it was indeed a very large python I had driven over it, it smashed the car on all sides. God's Words to me speaking through this incident was "The serpent's back has been broken", and I knew it was symbolic. I had to drive over it, it was a new beginning, and I did not look back.
On the 10 of April we moved into our house, it took a long time to reorganise our worldly goods. In June 1998 it was time to get back to Ministry, it was in May 1998 when I had a small baby orphan in my arms that the Lord said, "this is what you will start with". I asked my husband and friend to go to a certain place where I knew they would find the house God had planned for the baby orphans, and it was so. At the end of June 1998 I paid six months rent, but found myself with a derelict house for the babies and no more money. The trustees of Kondanani wanted to know what I thought I would do. I told them that I did not know how He was going to do it. I made it clear to them that finance follows the ministry and not the other way around; otherwise we would not need faith. And without faith it is impossible to please God. At the end of July 1998 I went to South Africa to visit the Living Word Church. I had known the pastor for many years and he felt moved to take up an offering for the work in Malawi.
The offering was very large and the congregation was surprised at their own giving. What more can I say but that my God is more than enough, He gives us beyond what we can think or imagine. The renovations began as soon as I got back; we had a lot of work to do. Interviews for staff, nannies had to be trained in baby care and a cook in taking care of baby food. These were of course not the only things to be given attention to. Cots, furniture, clothing, nappies, etc. and so much more had to be taken care of. Philippians 4:6; " Be anxious for nothing but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanks giving let your request be known to God". That is what we did. He also said to ask and you shall receive. In the center of God's Will there is "Divine Provision".
During this time I met some of Lewis's children, for me it was a truly amazing experience. There was no doubt that God had done a great work of forgiveness in my heart, but to me the greatest test was to see the one who headed up the mob, the others watched their father being chased with an axe and me being assaulted, but she was actively taking part in the assault. I asked my husband to take me to her, after having gone to the shop to buy groceries for her we arrived at her home. She felt awkward which was very obvious. But I was free and gave her a big hug that made her seemingly feel better. We spent about half an hour with her; she sat on the floor as we sat on the chair according to culture. I looked at her and thought that in the natural I should have wanted to strangle her, but I was free, free from hate, free from resentment. I wanted to jump with joy, this was not achieved in the natural, this was supernatural act of God to which I had chosen to submit myself to.
Back in the car Lewis and I rejoiced together. "Our God Reigns". A year later we buried her. When I sat with the body minutes after she died in the middle of the night, I looked at her face and softly said to it, "I am glad that I had forgiven the one is gone who dwelt in you". We helped nurse her in her last days, as I did with the daughter who died a year prior to that. Five of the children have passed away. None have asked forgiveness, we are still waiting for that from the ones that are alive. It will be the only action that will bring true reconciliation. They have come to visit though. I was soon again in South Africa where goods were piled up in a room at the church house of Living Word. It seemed that God had worked in the hearts of people and let them know we needed kitchen utensils and there was plenty. We also found a lot of toys and baby clothes; it was like Christmas going through all these gifts.
At home in the meantime, God had no problem to get the Muslims into action, 34 brand new cots free of charge. The curtains all given by Muslims, an unbeliever supplied most of the paint. Once again His word was proved to be true, he would supply our EVERY need. When we at last opened the doors on the 1st of November, we were short of only one thing, a washing machine. This was not long because delay does not mean denied; though this was also quite a test of the rainy season.
Little Deborah arrived on the 7st of November 1998. All she had was a grandfather who was incapable of looking after her. She was HIV positive, only thirteen months old and a very regal little lady; I called her "The Queen". She developed full-blown Aids and passed away in June 1999, after her body had wasted away to nothing. We cried, as we often do when our babies pass from our arms into the Arms of Jesus. We see Jesus in them when we feed them, we see Jesus in them when we give them something to drink, we see Jesus in them when we cloth them. The babies became part of us, we love them and when they slip away, yes we mourn the loss of a loved one.
I took Deborah's body back to her grandfather, who had faithfully visited her week after week, no longer was there the big smile he had on his face when he had brought her to us. So happy to have found a place for his little girl, ... now he was wailing and overcome with sorrow. We told him of the greatest Comforter of all, Jesus Christ the Savior. It did not take long before the orphanage became known and the welfare started bringing babies.
Almost everything I needed for food and medicine was imported and costing a lot of money. When I had about ten babies I said to the Lord, please just hold it for a while I have to feed them you know, as if our Father was unaware of this. Needless to say, the babies did not stop coming. I recall so clearly collecting a set of twins from the hospital, number thirty and thirty-one. I recalled the time that I asked the Lord to hold it for a while and now with these two babies I never ever thought of how I was going to feed them, I knew that every need would be met, why, because I had experienced "Divine Provision", all along. There are plenty of times that I do not know how our needs are going to be met, but I never doubt that they will be. I say to Jesus, You and I are in this boat together, if it sinks we go down together.
Some babies come with the police, little Moses was found in the cemetery just about the same time as Miriam was found on the riverside. Beautiful little Miriam has been adopted by a French Family. She is dearly loved, before she was adopted we sent two blood samples to South Africa to have it tested for the HIV virus, both came back negative. There was great rejoicing the day they took her, from being dumped at the riverside into a loving home. The joy was not to last for long. A month after being with her new mommy and daddy on holiday in Paris, she fell ill and after various test and a month in a Paris Hospital it was found that she was HIV Positive after all. At present she is quite well. Little Moses joined his brother and sisters from Caring Hands Infant Home, who had departed before him in the "Heavenly Baby Home".
Juma has been our miracle baby. I found him among the shacks; he was sucking his grandmothers dry breast. He was skin and bones with sores all over his head and in his mouth, seventeen months old and it was obvious he would not live for another week. I spoke to his young uncle in fact begged him to bring this orphan to us so he could live. We received little Jumu the following day, he is now two and a half years old and an absolutely beautiful and adorable bouncing boy, much in charge. I call him "Chief of Staff', and he is not HIV Positive. There is also Stelia, we found her in the village deep in the rural area, here was her grandmother, the poor soul had lost most of her children to AIDS and they had left her with ten orphans. She was so poor and had only rags to wear. Stelia was the smallest, had TB and open sores on her legs and body,clearly malnourished. With the local health-worker and the chief we asked the grandmother if she would agree to let the child come with us so she would receive good care, she agreed to it. I gave her some money to help her with the other children; she was however later accused of having sold Stelia to us. Stelia is now close on three and in very good health, her mental health has been damaged by malnutrition.
The growing children, some HIV positive, some not, showed me the need for the next step, because if I would send them back to their families at the age of three they would surely die. Once again I reminded God of His promises. He said that I would return to the place where I was stoned and start again, as before we had three-year-olds we would have them again. The amazing thing was that it all happened as I predicted several years prior, the owner got into financial difficulty and the property was to be auctioned. On the 13th 'of April 1999 my husband went to the auction and bought the property for a quarter of the normal price. There was a hitch though we had no money to pay for it, we requested an account from the Building Society, which they refused, we begged again and so on, we were just trying to buy time. At the same time God had to speak to me about His plan for the orphanage, once I got the Project Proposal for our "Kondanani Village" put together and sent out.
The Building Society was getting rather impatient in the meantime, but God was in control. The Christian Channel Europe had also received the Project Proposal. In November 1999 while I was having an evening dinner with my daughter on the Waterfront in Johannesburg, South Africa, her phone rang. It was for me, a call from England and it was Rory to give me the wonderful news that they would send the finances for the building of phase one of Kondanani Village. Who ever would not want to serve a God like this, this is not what I have achieved, it is God. If we give Him our brokeness, our patience and humility He can make us a channel of His Love and Care. I wrote that night in my diary, the night of the 12th of November 1999, "I wonder if I am worthy to be so blessed and the Lord was ready with His answer, He said to me that this answer to my prayer was not to meet my need, but the need of the orphans of Malawi and they were worth it.
So, we may say boldly, "The Lord is my Helper, I will not fear what man can do to me". An entry in my diary for the 10th of July 1998 reads; "Expect not one but many miracles is God's Word for me today". Noah built that great big ark, why? Because he had God's Word for it. God can't do anything until we move. As we build Kondanani Village He will supply the finances for the next phase and all the other needs will be met. A Nutritional Rehabilitation Clinic will also be built within the next six months. We have been led to feed the malnourished children below the age of five in our villages, 50% of them do not receive adequate nutrition and are malnourished. Some of them have died already, if only we could have admitted them we could have saved lives.
Will I be satisfied after that? No, I know God has a lot more in store, where and when we will start our next orphanage for babies I do not know yet, but I have an inkling, my spiritual eyes are wide open to hear what the Spirit had to say. I have His Word for it in Matthew 25:35-37; "And I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you took me in, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me. What else do I need".