It was a warm, sunny Saturday, when my little girl and I were relaxing around the communal pool of our new accommodation. A young single parent strolled over to meet us with her little girl. She listened intently to my woes of recent events, and our ending up back in Joh’burg. Plus the three car accidents in Cape Town, and the one I had just suffered during that week. The sun and the pool were most welcome.
My mind was messy as I drove to collect my daughter from her first school. The blow of being made redundant again was bad enough, but transport being what it is in South Africa, I opted for a sales job with a company car. How was I going to fetch and carry now. I’d reached the middle of the crossing of the massive intersection, where her school grounds were on the corner. When out of the blue, a Paramedic car came screaming around the long bend, and ploughed straight into me. The impact left a huge hole, right through the metal of the passenger door. I spun round and smashed into a little car coming towards me. The young Paramedic driver was new on the job, and forgot to check the road was clear, they said. There were three of them, who all willingly admitted guilt straight away. They paid for all our medical check-ups and that was that. There were no injuries. The company collected the car they’d said I could use, until I was fixed with a new one.
When my new friend invited us to join them for church in the morning, I was delighted. I hadn’t been for years.
As we drove into the car park, I could see this was definitely a different kind of church. The car park sprawled all around the enormous grounds, and up towards the church on the hill. The whole site was enormous. As we walked up to the building, passing hundreds of people, who were all smiling and happy, they greeted us and welcomed us warmly into the church. The auditorium was huge…rows and rows of lovely seats in a half circle sloping all the way down to the front. We sat in a couple of the five thousand seats, a few rows from the back. We’d already taken the two girls to children’s church.
The band was lively and quite sensational, with words on the screens above so everyone joined in, until the place was full. The singing and music was electric, and had put me in another world by this time. When the pastor came to preach, silence fell and he prayed. He was very well dressed in a suit and tie with a kind face. I hadn’t seen that before. Just a man on a stage dressed normally and speaking from the bible. I liked that straight away, and relaxed. For the first time I heard words from the bible and understood. I didn’t feel judged, nor afraid, the jeering voices and fear, were gone. It was such a joy to understand. Being able to enjoy being taught something was foreign to me. The words seemed to make sense as he explained, I was taken in by it all. I liked the preacher too – he was a normal person, like us sitting in the seats. He showed he cared. No hint of being above us, that always put me clean off, and usually reluctant to believe or trust anything from insincere people. Whereas now, I was eager to know more.
He gave an alter call at the end and off I went. I forgot about being shy in crowds, and any kind of attention. I just floated all the way down to the front, in my long, ivory linen, summer coat, which stood out, but wasn’t bothered.
As the pastor prayed for us in the front, my head was hung low, my hair covering my face and tears. I was comatose as I stood there, with dozens of others. My whole body felt like a shattered windscreen, every inch of glass smashed, but still in place, held together by silken threads of grace.
The counsellors came alongside each of one us, and led us through the doors on the side, leading on into separate rooms. The two ladies with me were loving and kind, as one would expect, simply wonderful. I think I cried for an hour. I was broken and torn and very weak, everything gushed out. Who knows what I poured out onto those poor ladies, but Jesus took it all. He lifted me out of the skip, and made me whole again. I was no longer dirt and unacceptable. He loved me they said. Me…
I knew Jesus died on the cross and that was all. To know it was for my sin, my unbelief, my not knowing anything about what He really died for. He suffered in my place and took my sins – and there were many. I needed to repent and seek forgiveness, and turn away from them, and believe that He was punished in my place. He died for me, was buried and rose again and is now alive. He will take up residence in my heart and lead me into all truth through his Holy Spirit, when I believe. I certainly believed that day for the first time, because I hadn’t heard anyone explain that to me in any church before. To believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved. Who knew what ‘saved’ even meant. I was saved from death because of my sin through Adam, the wages of sin is death, but now became a child of God, re-born into the Spirit of Christ.
By the time I left I had no make up on and red bulging eyes. My friend was with the girls outside looking quite worried. No one took that long normally she said smiling.
My counsellor Yvette, made appointments for me to return to the church every week for a few weeks. A dear tiny little person, with an enormous heart. She gave me scriptures to learn and hang on to. These are some of them – John 3:16, Joshua 1:8-9, Proverbs 3:5-6, Proverbs 1: 7, Matt 6:33, Ephesians 3:20, 2 Corinthians 5:17, Philippians 4:4-7, Romans 10:17.
I so enjoyed going in to the offices and meeting with her, she was so kind, everyone was actually. Pastor Ray was super, he made a point of always greeting my daughter and I. They arranged for a Home Group to include me in their weekly meetings, and even fetched me. Some times they’d bring a meal around or pick us up for church. I was one of them immediately, joined to the family of Christ. Being part of a family, was something I hadn’t experienced since granny died when I was ten. I never fitted in anywhere.
There were bible study lessons at night in the week too, and again was collected and dropped off home. During the very first lesson, I was sitting in the front, amazingly, with my bible my ex-husband had given me for our first wedding anniversary – I asked for a bible. Anyway, I had my bible on my lap like everyone else, listening to Pastor Ray. He asked us to turn to Habakkuk. Who?? I’d never heard of him, oh my, now what. Pastor Ray had glanced my way, my face must have revealed my terror, so casually added, it’s a few books back from Matthew. I flipped open my bible at exactly the right page. That was my first taste of knowing I was no longer alone. God was actually with me, and was teaching me to trust Him, even in the small things. A kind of father thing I imagined.