Was it real?
When we arrived at home that Sunday morning my thoughts was still fixed on the announcement that SAAWE are looking for people to join a group to travel to Turkey to distribute Bibles and literature.
I had no interest in Turkey or Turks, but that Sunday morning in 1995 I remembered the incident at Heathrow airport almost 10 years before. I was sure that the Turks needed to hear the Gospel and that someone had to go to share it with them.
In the following days I tried to make sense of this growing conviction that I needed to join the SAAWE outreach to Turkey. I started to share this thought with friends in the same congregation. They were surprised that I wanted to go to Turkey whilst the mission committee of the congregation was planning an outreach to the Gypsies in Bulgaria. "Where did you hear about the outreach to Turkey?" They were listening to the same announcements that Sunday morning as I did, but they did not hear the announcement about the outreach planned by SAAWE. It felt as if I was the only one that heard that announcement and I knew I had to act on the growing conviction that I need to join the outreach team to Turkey.
I discussed my decision with our pastor and he suggested that I join the team preparing for the outreach to Bulgaria. I have not been on an organized cross-cultural outreach and I knew I would benefit from attending their meetings and preparing with them.
I submitted my application to SAAWE and within a week I was informed that my application was successful. I was now part of a team of 12 gathered from all over South Africa and one from Namibia. I received information about the outreach and about Turkey and its people. I was intrigued by all of this and the excitement started to grow as the time for the outreach drew closer.
There was still one unresolved issue and that was the matter of the cost involved for the outreach. As a Magistrate in the local Magistrate Office I was earning a good salary, but we have not been able to save much and had no margin that could cover the cost involved. Being part of the missions team preparing for the outreaches we were allowed to share our stories with congregants to raise money for the planned trips. With the deadline for the payment of the airfare fast approaching, the Bulgaria team were receiving good donations and were meeting their targets. This made me doubt my conviction because no donations were received for the Turkey outreach. Did I gave in to an impulsive thought that God want to use me to share the Gospel to the people of Turkey, or was it real?
Being a employee of the Department of Justice I knew that, although it was not a huge salary, my income was secure and that should count for something. I started to reason that if no donations was received, I will approach my local bank manager to take a loan for the airfare and deposit. God provided me with a job and secure income and I felt I could pay the loan back over time. If the bank manager approves the loan, I will take it as a sign of God's approval of my plans.
In the week before the due date, no donations was received towards my outreach expenses and I made the appointment with the bank manager to ask for the loan. It took him no longer than 10 minutes to approve my request and I felt relieved and grateful that God honored my desire and answered my prayer. I knew this was real an I was now on my way to Turkey!
There was about 6 weeks left before our departure date and during this time I continued to share about the outreach with as many people as possible. For no apparent reason things started to change. Donations towards my expenses started to come in and by the time I got onto the airplane to leave for Turkey, the loan was paid back and all my in country expenses for the outreach covered! I was overwhelmed and in awe of God's ways. God was working on a different agenda and I had a strong sense that there were more experiences waiting!