News | Drop Your Nets and Follow Me

“Len and Hettie will be moving to Worcester, and possibly Johann and Lolly too.”

Plenty had happened before Andrew Selley made this announcement at the JoshGen Worcester launch in October 2020.

Since Lolly and I got engaged in 2015, we regarded ourselves as co-labourers longing to be sent. Although we lived in the anticipation that we might receive the call to go any day, we had settled it in our hearts to serve, love, and give of ourselves in Swellendam for as long as the Lord allowed us.

Johann, Lolly & their son Ezra

In January 2020 I rather boldly proclaimed that this would be a year for us as a church (JoshGen Swellendam) to learn how to “GO!”. When a national lockdown was announced on the 23rd of March, I thought I had missed it – we would not be going – we would be staying very put.

However, even though we were under lockdown, God and His gospel were not. We thought that we were staying put, but He was on the move. Six JoshGen congregations/outreach communities were planted, including one in Worcester!

Lolly had always had a passion for a church to be planted in Worcester. When Karla Strydom (from the JoshGen Stellenbosch PM congregation) first communicated on the global worship leaders WhatsApp group asking for Afrikaans songs for the Worcester outreach congregation, Lolly knew in her heart that God would ask us to go. I, on the other hand, sensed that my last year as a teacher had come, and had in faith (months before the call), started to write my letter of resignation .

Our mantra of “anytime and anywhere, Lord” had been made slightly more complicated by the fact that we had bought a new house and had only lived there for one week when we received the call that we might be sent to Worcester. We naturally had to process a lot. We were dealing with tiredness from the first move, the financial implications of having to move again, and even heavier on our hearts, we had to say goodbye to a group of people we had come to call family; JoshGen Swellendam. All these excuses became irrelevant when I finally heard God say, like Abraham, that it was time to leave the place I had called home for sixteen years (Lolly for five) and go to a “land that He will show” us.

After Andrew’s announcement (coincidently on our son’s first birthday) the uncertainty of what still needed to happen caused anxiety to brew like a storm in our hearts. We thought that our quick obedience would be met with a speedy provision of what we needed in order to make the move possible.

And then…nothing happened.

The storm kept growing. In Swellendam our house wasn’t selling and out of the blue the moving company almost doubled the price of the move. In Worcester we were searching for a nanny, not knowing where to start, and our landlord decided to change our contract from occupational rent to a normal rental contract, which meant that our rent would increase with an unexpected R4 000 per month.

The van Deventers in front of their new home in Worcester

It was during this time that God intervened; not in our circumstances, but in us. While preparing a sermon on 1 Peter 1, God started to challenge our perspective. We were dwelling on what we needed, rather than on Who we needed; on the things that are temporary rather than that which can never perish, spoil or fade.

Our perspective would be challenged even more when Lolly felt God speaking to us through the story of the rich young ruler in Mark 10, who in his obsession with the cost of the call missed the privilege of the great invitation – “follow Me.” If that was not enough, as a gift from the church in Swellendam, we received a box containing prophetic letters with a thread of God protecting us through anxiety and bringing us into greater joy in hospitality. It was only when we repented of our anxiety and lack of trust in God, that peace started to rule our hearts.

Then things started to happen – quickly. The next day at church; three De Doorns farmers offered to help with our move at cost price. After church we befriended a lady living a couple of houses away from the church building. She turned out to be a domestic worker who loves Jesus and was able to connect us with a very reliable nanny. The saints in Worcester immediately made us feel welcome. The wives had our new home cleaned and meals and treats were organized for our first few days in our new home!

One thing still needed to happen though; our house in Swellendam had to sell. I remember speaking to God and telling Him how nice it would be if our house would sell within 2020. A week later a friend gave us a word that like Mary and Martha in the story of Lazarus’ death (John 11), we may feel that God’s actions are “too late,” but that He is always on time, working things together for His glory (and our good). On the 31st of December, at 6pm, we signed an offer and sold our home, and at a generous profit! God has indeed been very gracious and kind to us.

Johann & Lolly’s old home in Swellendam

I guess our expectation in the beginning of the process was that God would work for us. This was the focus of our prayers and the thrust of our conversations. However, with outcomes foregrounded we were failing the test. It was only when the Holy Spirit lifted our gaze to show us what He was wanting to do in us, that peace, purpose, and even joy prevailed. This was the miracle and this was proof of God’s faithfulness. Yet, He even showed Himself merciful in our practical needs.

Through this move we have received a fresh reminder of the privilege to be sent and the great honor to hear the Master say “drop your nets and follow me.” He has shown us the authority of His voice when He calms our hearts and the comfort we receive when, faced with uncertain times, we find certainty in the One that does not change. So, we go – trusting in our faithful God who has already gone before us.

Johann van Deventer

Johann van Deventer

Johann serves on leadership in our Worcester congregation and has recently started serving the church in a full-time capacity. He is a loving husband to Cornelia (Lolly) van Deventer and doting father to their son Ezra.

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