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Fully Accepting My Death
– about to drown, in the sea beyond the breakers, after dark –
Friday Evening, 8 January, 1960, Port Alfred, Eastern Cape, South Africa
I had completed
my schooling, and was now on holiday for a few days, camping in a tent, in the coastal town of Port Alfred on the Kowie River, with two Christian friends. Late Friday afternoon, it was suggested that we go swimming at the local beach, and two neighbouring girls accompanied my friends to the sea side. They played in the surf and I decided to swim out past the breakers, for I was too shy to joke around with girls.
I swam
beyond the breakers as the sun was setting and then turned to begin swimming back to the shore, unaware that because we were next to the river mouth I was actually swimming against the current caused by its outflow. It was now dark and I could only see the outline of the hills above the beach. I swam and swam and swam, unaware that I was probably stationary as my swimming was neutralised by the opposite direction of the coastal current from the river's outflow.
sun had now set. I was still far out beyond the breakers and no nearer to the beach for all my swimming. I was now so exhausted that I could not longer move my arms. All I could do was to kick my legs to keep my head above water to keep breathing. I realised that I was not going to be able to get out of the sea and that in the dark no one was even aware of where I was. So, I turned away from the shore and, with my back to the coast, surrendered myself completely to the Lord as I waited to drown and to be with Him forever.
While I waited, exhausted, in the dark of the sea for my inevitable drowning, I was completely unaware that the sea current that I had been swimming against which had taken me so far out to sea was now looping back southward along the coast. Out of sight of the shore, I still waited in the dark to drown when strangely my foot touched sand under me, and I turned around toward the shore to discover that I was now close enough to walk on a sand bank out of the water. I was quite far down along the coast from where I had entered the sea and so began walking back up along the beach in the dark to find my friends.
I found
the two of them sitting alone on a sand dune in the dark praying for me. The girls had long since gone home. They asked where I had been, but I was still too much in-shock from the situation to tell them what had happened to me ('I had been swimming'), and so the three of us then walked back to our tent.
of the two guys had a guitar and we started singing some Christian songs. After a while, I just felt that I needed to be alone. It was 02:00 am Saturday morning, and so I walked outside the tent and stood alone in the dirt road looking up at the night sky. In that town at that time even the street light were put out after 11pm. so the stars above were very vivid.
Called to preach
at 2 am Saturday
9 January 1960
As I looked up at the awesome spread of stars above me, my heart welled up with appreciation to God that I was still alive, and I lifted my heart to Him in thanksgiving. As I did so, I heard Him say as clear as any human voice I had ever heard –
"I want you to preach for Me".
In reaction, I fell forward, head-first, into a hedge at the side of the road, and wept my heart out in the dark.
I pulled myself together and stood up, I did not want to be with anyone, and so spent the rest of the night walking and worshipping. I returned to my friends' tent as the sun rose, and my friends assumed that I had come in while they were sleeping and had just got up early.
rigorous basic
infantry training
qualified as an
Anti Tank Gunner
As we three
were eating some breakfast, the pastor (E.J. Thompson) from my home church in Grahamstown arrived to say that my parents had received a telegram from the South African military that I had to be on a military troop-train that same afternoon on my way to infantry training school in Oudtshoorn for my compulsory military service.
I told no one what had happened to me, not even my parents.
But it meant that my future now belonged completely to God, and only to God –
no matter where I was, or whatever happened to me... ever!
See: A Basket of Faith The Jerusalem Works of Jesus 40-Years With Jethro/Reuel

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