Tuesday, September 7, 2010

God loves tough guys.

These days I find myself crying more often than I am comfortable with. But if there is one thing that opens me up like a sprinkler system on a Kalahari farm, it is when somebody commits their life to Christ. This is the most amazing miracle anyone can ever experience and if you are close to me when this happens, make sure you have a raincoat.
The tough guy I am talking about is not me, I would have said “seriously tough” if I was talking about myself. No the tough guy I am talking about is a youngster, seventeen years old. He is a young leader I have met during one of the greatest experiences of my life – The “Kalahari Vasbyt”.
Every year at the end of December till early January Themba Tours organises a tour for young leaders, Grade 10-12. This is for tough guys, leaders and athletes. They would face the toughest and almost certainly greatest 18 days of their life.  They would tour through Botswana to Zimbabwe where they would be river rafting on grade 5 rapids the  biggest in the world(It is here where they learn to pray for small things – like air).
They would bungee at Victoria falls and experienced the might of God in nature. Then they would tour to Namibia where they would stay at Popa falls, from where they would tour back to Botswana to the famous Kalahari pans.  Here they would sleep under the stars while the great Kalahari lions would roam freely around them. This is not a place for men, this is a place for tough guys.
While experiencing all of the above, they would undergo a vigorous physical program. Not like the army, this is meant to build up, not break down. Al the while they would learn about Nature, themselves and leadership. We have a very strong focus on God and this is truly a life changing experience. Thy may go as boys but they come back as men! Christ-like leaders for the future.
This is where I met this tough guy. Usually I click very easily with tough guys and we had a wonderful experience as a group but this one guy was just unreachable to me. Tonight , he phoned me after eight months. After we had spoken, I asked him if he would be willing to share his story. He agreed and emailed me his story. I have tried my best to translate it as close as possible to his own words.
I went because it was the right thing to do. I always did the right thing, it was expected of me. I didn’t really look forward to the Vasbyt, but it would be a chance to get away from home.
I knew a lot of the guys who went on the tour and was comfortable in the group. I liked the leaders, the tour leader is one of the most interesting and weird guys I have ever met. (Andries Erwee). Then there was Tertius, he is extremely funny except when it comes to physical training. Lastly there where Oom(Uncle) Paul he was the one responsible for Bible study and birds. I liked him in the beginning and  everyone enjoyed the Bible studies he and Tertius did. A lot of the guys made commitments towards God as well as I. But something was missing for me.
During the Vasbyt Oom Paul’s three sons started to work on my nerves, he was always busy with them and they did everything with us. They really started to irritate me and I could nor really lay my finger on the reason why.
The Vasbyt was a wonderful experience and would stay with me for the rest of life. I have learned a lot about myself on the tour. I got back and went on with my life. Sometimes when there had been difficult things I had to do, I thought back to all the things I conquered during the tour and would step up and face what I needed to face.
8 Months later one night I went to see WP play rugby at Newlands. On the field stood Oom Paul taking photo’s. I went to greed him and we had a nice conversation. As I sat down I saw his kids playing behind him and I saw him talking and joking with them. I immediately  felt anger towards them. This was strange and over the next three weeks the feeling kept coming back to me.
Then one night after a conversation with my Father who I truly love, I realised what was going on. Although I believe that my father loves me, I have never experienced that I am good enough. I have been living a life where I am always trying to live up to my father's expectations and reputation. I have never had the idea that I am good enough and that he just loves me for who I am. That he would just spend some time with me and have fun with me. When I think of Oom Paul there is two things I am sure, he loves God and he really loves his kids and both are visible to everyone. I long for my father to love me the same way Oom Paul loves his kids. I realised that it wasn't them who had irritated me; what had irritated me, was that I wanted what they had.
I also realised that this is true of my relationship with God. His my Father and I gave my heart to the Lord at a few occasions, but like with my father I never felt good enough. Tonight I realised God wanted to be a loving father who is not interested in my accomplishments, but the father who just wanted to love me. I phoned Oom Paul and told him what happened. He prayed with me and tonight I am starting a new life with a God that wants to love me for who I am.
God even love’s tough guys. We all yearn for the love of God, you don’t have to earn it, you just have to enjoy it. This is one of the most amazing opportunities for Gr10-12 boys. If you want more information or co-sponsor a boy for a life changing experience click here or contact me at paul@nghelder.co.za
Here is a good book to read:

Fatherless Generation, an Excerpt from Dr. John Sowers New Book


Other stories of faith:


  1. The more you cry, the bigger the feast in heaven. [Drink lots of water]...

  2. Thanks Francois that is deep. Last week I had kidney stones (again)maybe I am losing to much water through the eyes I will drink lots of water

  3. It just shows you how damaging a father son relationship can be to our relationship with God. Paul, I'm glad that you can live out an example of Godliness with your kids :-)

  4. It is very true, last night I spoke to a elderly lady who is still struggling with her relationship with her Father, 40 years after he died.