The heart of a volunteer
In the movie Pearl Harbor there is a line that the officer (played by Eric Baldwin) in charge of the final bombing of Tokyo addresses the volunteer pilots: ‘there is nothing as strong as the heart of a volunteer.’
When he uttered those words as I watched the movie in my hotel room in Bogota, it struck a deep chord in me and I started crying. I know something about what he said. I don’t often see my mission as so important, but today I did. I realized for the first time in my life that no one ever forced me into doing what I am doing. I have always volunteered. It is my choice. What I do and what my family and those who work alongside us is our choice. We don’t have to do it. No one is telling us what to do. We design our own missions by volunteering!
I was in Manila, Philippines, when the tsunami hit Japan. They also had an earthquake and there was a nuclear blowout disaster. The tsunami was heading towards the Philippines and the announcements on the TV screens were getting people ready to evacuate. I prayed, phoned Nola at home and went to sleep not knowing what to expect.
The next morning I woke up and heard the president of the Philippines thanking all those who prayed to God to spare their islands from the tsunami because the giant wave made a 180-degree turn towards Hawaii and California. By the time it reached those shores the power of the tsunami was depleted and no more harm was done.
I prayed for Japan and asked God to spare them and to get the Gospel to that Buddhist nation. Then I heard a voice saying, ‘but who will go?’
I waited a while and then volunteered: ‘Lord, you know I will go. You know me.’
I had to go to Nigeria first and there they tried to poison me. I literally crawled onto the plane back home after six days of glucose drips in the pastor’s home. His wife was a nurse. ‘You don’t go to hospital in Nigeria. You will die. They do not have medicine or food. People die there.’ But she could not get me the correct medicine either and kept me alive on a constant glucose drip.
By the time I got to Cape Town Nola took me straight to hospital. Three doctors confirmed that I should have been dead already and after treatment my blood sugar was above 22! When it reaches 19 you should be in a coma! So it must have been close to 30 in Nigeria!
They tested my heart and said I should have immediate heart surgery. Then another doctor tested it again and said there is nothing wrong with my heart but that I have an extra heart beat! They tested all my organs because they said my organs should be affected by the poison, but everything worked fine, thanks to the prayers of the saints and my family! Nola phoned people to tell them to pray for me.
But I made a vow to go to Japan and in my weakened state I boarded the plane with my feet still dragging. But when I returned Nola said, ‘you look different. You look so strong!’
I went to hand out tracts in Tokyo. People did not want to take them so I placed them in strategic places at bus stops, taxi ranks, outside supermarkets and in parks and the hotel where I was staying. It was a very costly exercise as Japan is one of the most expensive countries in the world. But I volunteered and had to see it through. Lenard Foster and I went to Japan in Fukuoka when he worked in Ulsan in Korea and prayed for Japan in the high tower overlooking that city. Fukuoka is the capital of the prefecture and is situated on the northern shore of the island of Kyushu in Japan.
There is ‘deadness’ over Japan – something I have never experienced before in any other war torn country. People seldom smile or laugh. Everything is neat and sculptured (think: bonsai trees in Zen gardens!) and the perfectionism of the Buddhist culture makes a great impression on the eye. Even at the airport the symmetry of brochures in the bookshelves catches the eye! There is no pollution in the city as no car older than 5 years is allowed on the street. Every car has to be fitted with an aluminum pollution filter. The busses run on electricity power. But the feeling one gets is that the soul of that nation has been destroyed. We do not understand the devastating effect of the atom bombs at the end of WWII on that nation…
So although my efforts were small in comparison to the great need in that nation, I did what I saw myself doing and paid the price to get it done.
No one has ever told me what to do. I have always taken the initiative according to the direction in my heart. I have always pioneered. It is my nature and I have operated that way since a little boy. That is how I get things done. So basically, all my life, I have been a volunteer.
In the army three of us made up our minds that we will volunteer for everything!
Eventually the lieutenant called us into his office and told us: ‘look you guys we don’t want you to volunteer for anything ever again! We are looking for the lazy and unfit ones, the ones that never want to do anything! So from now on, don’t volunteer for anything again, okay?’
If something needs to be done I naturally volunteer. I just can’t sit around waiting for something to happen. I hate talking about doing something when no one gets up to do it!
So when Eric Baldwin spoke that line, it touched me very deeply and brought tears to my eyes, because it felt as if he said it directly to me!
King David was also a volunteer. No one forced him to attack Goliath. No one ordered him to destroy the Philistines. He said, ‘with my God I can leap over a wall, with my God I can run through a troop!’ He knew his source of strength and power and gave glory to God.
Samson was a volunteer. Gideon had to learn to volunteer. Joseph was forced to volunteer. Moses was given an option to volunteer. Abraham volunteered to go to a place he has not known and Sarah his wife volunteered to go with him. He also volunteered to sacrifice his only begotten son to obey God and when God stopped him from killing his son, Abraham’s obedience was counted as righteousness before God and he became the father of our faith.
The 12 disciples were all volunteers. They did not have to follow Jesus. They chose to follow the man from Galilee. Paul volunteered after he got knocked off his horse en route to Damascus. He volunteered to go to Rome where he became a martyr for the Gospel’s sake.
Thomas volunteered to go to India where he was brutally murdered by the Brahmin priests.
My father volunteered to sell his steel and iron factory in Alrode, Alberton, and give his 50% share of ownership of Pelser & Draai Estate Agency to his partner in order to go into the full time ministry in the AFM when God called him.
Nola and I have volunteered to go into full time ministry, leaving the acting world and music world behind us. Aje volunteered to give up a possible Oxford scholarship and his cricket career to go into the ministry – and Chantal with him. Leigh and Lynette volunteered to stand with us even during the apostasy that hit our church so hard. Billy and Angie volunteered to work in the ministry with us.
So we can go on with the list: Jan & Chantal Oosthuizen, Dr. Vedha, Richard Ssendi, Yasmir, Onesime, Graham & Annie, Duncan & Bev, Morne & Adelle, Phil & Priscilla and so the list continues…all volunteers, all brave men and women with the heart of volunteers! All handpicked by God Himself! I could not have picked a better team!
Then there are the volunteers who pray for us and support us: Clint & Lisa, Mimi & Andre, Janine Grobler (my only sister), Vanessa (Janine’s daughter), Ed Hawley (son of my personal friend who passed away already), John da Silva in the UK, Jako & Elda in the USA and everyone else who threw their weight in with us for the mission to reach the entire world with the message of reformation of the church according to New Testament standards.
Isaiah 59:19: ‘You shall surely raise up a standard when the enemy rushes in like a flood.’
There is nothing stronger than the heart of a volunteer! What a message! What a dividing line between those who want to see what they can get and those who are willing to give it all!
The apostolic response is like a clarion call in the words of Saul when he met the living Christ: ‘Lord, what would you have me do?’ We hear it in Isaiah’s response to the glory of God that filled the Temple: when the Lord asked: ‘who will go for us?’ he was the only one in the whole Temple who replied: ‘here am I Lord, send me!’
And that summarizes the meaning of the word ‘apostle’: ‘a sent one!’ But that sent one is not forced to do it; he or she volunteers!
So to all the volunteers around us, we salute you brothers and sisters and we give God the glory for what the Lord is busy doing through all of you! Your work and your reward are with God! When Jesus returns He shall bring rewards with Him.
I can only give glory to God for what we have been allowed to accomplish so far. And the best is yet to come! Gloria Dios! As they say in Spanish.
Apostle André Pelser