After the Lord spoke recently to our lead elder, Andrew Selley, about JoshGen entering a new season of church plants we were excited to connect with Ruan Slabbert and his family, who put their hands up to plant a new JoshGen congregation in Paarl.
We caught up with Ruan for a quick “Q and A” session, which reveals how the Lord spoke to him specifically about the big move.
- Tell us about your journey to faith in Christ
I was fortunate to be raised in a Christian home and can remember having a definite awareness of God since I was young. However, I was convinced that I would not find myself in heaven with God.
I had a friend who started inviting me to his church’s youth group. After about three weeks of going, the youth pastor gave an altar call that evening. I can’t remember what he preached, but I had a clear knowing in my heart that I did not have the kind of relationship with God that He planned for us. That night, which at the start seemed to me quite unemotional and logical, was the first step of a lifelong (I mean an everlasting lifelong) journey with God.
Looking back, it does feel like a little “eternal seed” was planted and has not stopped growing. He’s captured my heart in such a deep way that even in my darkest and weakest moments (and there have been many) I could deny many things, but never the presence of Jesus and His call to me to be His own.
- When did you join JoshGen?
We joined JoshGen along with the church we were leading at the end of 2012.
- How did the Holy Spirit prepare you for the upcoming church plant in Paarl?
You will have to come visit us for the full answer, because I honestly believe It would be the same as asking me, “How did God prepare you to be a father”!
The answer is that He started the day I was born. My parents; siblings; all the times we moved (we did quite a bit); every friend; the youth group; every man and woman who helped disciple me; Bible schools; times alone with God; years of early morning prayer meetings in Wellington; having examples and working with men and women who were willing to sacrifice for what they believed God said; the many tears in intercession for people or misunderstanding and disappointments in God; the joys in seeing people grow in Jesus and moments of where His faithfulness are revealed in such tangible ways; believers who loved me out of my brokenness; friends in God faithful to Jesus for me; MY WIFE and my children; every “yes” to my requests and every “no” God used. Every conference, meeting, eldership team and church… Do you understand why you need to come visit?
In summary, I am not sure if I learned all the lessons I should have in this lengthy process of preparation but by the grace of God I believe I have learnt to walk with Him and that as long as we keep in step with Him we should be okay.
- Give us the broad strokes of the prophetic words around the Paarl plant.
When we were still leading in Wellington 2009 and 2010, the Lord gave me a picture of three kites in the Wellington / Paarl Valley. These kites represented the congregations. We believe the Paarl plant is one of those kites.
There have been a number of words around the dawn of a new day: daybreak. We believe that many find themselves, as it were, in a dark night – of life or relationships – and Jesus Christ is ready to shine on them as in the dawn of a new day. This is probably the main theme and focus.
Our sense was that we’ll be known for joy and to link with that, we received a number of encouragements out of the letter to the Philippians regarding unity, obedience and the Lordship of Jesus.
- What are you most looking forward to?
In the immediate sense: finding the right house. I know that might sound unspiritual or selfish, but knowing where we’ll live and being able to settle will be great. But if I can be more “spiritual”!
We are so excited to see the plan of God unfold in being a church that reflects His heart and ways like in the New Testament; to see Jesus’ grace and mercy dawn like a new day upon lives who don’t know Him; how God will use a bunch of ordinary people to love extraordinarily and be like a tree where birds of every feather can come and find their home.
- Who is joining you and your family in the move to Paarl?
We are so fortunate that the Wellington congregation, in particular, have partnered in a very special and sacrificial way by sending about 38 adult members and 16 children to plant. The le Roux couple from the Melkbosstrand congregation will also be joining us.
- What will you miss the most?
The church in Melkbosstrand has been such a blessing. We really did think we would live and work here for a long time. It was a big surprise when God started to speak about relocating and so we will really miss the people and being part of what God is going to do amongst them because they are in an exciting season!
On Sundays I would often look back over the congregation as we sing to God. In those moments I didn’t just see faces, but lives being lived – struggles and joys, children trying to walk in pleasing ways to their heavenly Father; maybe a few trying to run away or hide while at the same time trying to do the right thing…
I will miss that in this particular group. Paarl gets very hot in the summer and we will definitely miss the cool sea breeze!