Graduation now what?

YOUNG PEOPLE ARE OFTEN FACED WITH THE QUESTION of what to do after completing their formal schooling. With so many options available to the high school graduate the specific choice is often overwhelming. Traveling overseas, starting tertiary studies or perhaps sowing a year in a mission environment are all possibilities to be considered. Whilst there are some who would be excited about getting straight back “into the books”, many graduates struggle to make the gap year decision.

A lack of spiritual and emotional maturity, a lack of awareness of direction and life calling and a lack of preparedness for the spiritual crises in the academic and work arenas often make this decision even more difficult. Since the time spent at school is primarily a time of gaining knowledge, social skills and talents, little thought is given to the transition from 12 years in school to the big wide world out there! As the learner approaches the end of his/her schooling career, there are some huge questions to be answered.

[Discovery] – who exactly am I? In the area of discovery, learners come to terms with who they are in Christ Jesus; i.e. what their passions, dreams, and life’s calling are all about. Many young people end up in courses of study and careers for which they have no passion. Career choices must be made in keeping with the Scriptural fact that “I am fearfully and wonderfully made” – Psalm 139:14.

[Discipleship] – Now that I know what I am going to do, what will I do about it? In the area of discipleship, the young people need to be guided along a path of establishing what their response to their discovery will be. A clear understanding of God’s purpose and plan for their lives is critical. A Biblical foundation that will allow young people to stand firm in their faith in the workplace is critical. Character development, goal setting and the reinforcing of critical values is vital for success.

[Destiny] – what will my future hold? Whilst there are many options for the school-leaver, the ultimate goal is to be able to fulfil the God-given destiny for each life. Being able to go, having discovered what God has planned for you, is the most rewarding career that anyone could embark on.

Ideally the decision of what to do in a gap year programme needs to be made during the grade 12 year at school in order to be able to make adequate arrangements for enrolment or travel. Armed with the answers to the above questions, the school-leaver is in an excellent position to make an informed decision on how to spend the post matric year. An added benefit in the gap year would be the possibility of achieving some academic credit whilst taking a “year out”. Many programmes offer the possibility of enjoying some adventurous activities while continuing formal studies albeit at a slower pace. The benefit of these programmes is that the young person does not lose touch with the concept of studying but at the same time is not overwhelmed by the intensity of full-time study.

If at all possible select a programme that provides accreditation with tertiary institutions so that credits can be transferred to the institution of your choice when resuming a full-time study programme. There is nothing more powerful than a young man or woman who has discovered their purpose in life, has been appropriately discipled and is then released to fulfil his/her God-given destiny!

GRAHAM YOKO, is the CEO of Accelerated Christian Education, Africa. He and his wife, Pamela, and three children live in Durban, South Africa.

The Blessing of Grandparents

The Blessing of Grandparents
THE WORD OF GOD SAYS NOTHING about the role of grandparents, but it boldly declares the power of their influence. Godly men and women leave a legacy of blessing for generations to come.
“How blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who greatly delights in His commandments. His descendants will be mighty on earth; the generation of the upright will be blessed” – Psalm 112:1-2.
Never has this been more graphically illustrated than in the life of Jonathan Edwards. Jonathan Edwards (born 1703) was a man wholly devoted to Jesus Christ. At age 17 he married 13 year-old Sarah Pierpont. On their wedding night they committed their marriage to the Lord. By 1900, their descendants included 300 clergymen (pastors, missionaries and theologians), 100 attorneys, 60 judges (one dean of a law school), 60 doctors (one dean of a medical school), 60 authors of fine classics, 100 professors and 14 presidents of universities, 3 mayors of large cities, 3 state governors, a controller of the US Treasury and a Vice-President of America who became President Theodore Rooseveldt.
Just as we can bring blessing upon our descendants, so too we can bring curses upon them.
“You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me”
– Exodus 20:4-5.
Max Dukes (born 1700) was an unbeliever who married an unsaved woman. They neither honoured God nor lived principled lives. Amongst their 1200 known descendants in 1900: 310 were professional vagrants, 440 wrecked their lives by wild living, 130 went to jail (7 for murder, average age 13 years), over 100 became alcoholics, 60 were habitual thieves, 190 prostitutes. Twenty became tradesmen, (10 of whom learned their trade in jail). The researcher who compiled these statistics estimated that Max Dukes’ descendants cost the state of New York $1.5 million.
For better or for worse, grandparents leave a legacy. For some, it’s a legacy of righteousness and blessing. For others, wickedness and brokenness. The figures above only take note of the natural legacies of Edwards and Dukes; they do not factor in their spiritual legacies. It seems obvious that the overwhelming majority of Max Dukes’ descendants did not know Jesus Christ. I strongly suspect that a high proportion of Jonathan Edwards’ descendants, even those who did not become pastors or missionaries, loved and served Jesus. Their respective legacies extend into eternity—eternal life or death.
What makes the difference? If you are a grandparent, how can you bring blessing upon your descendants? The Word of God lays down roles for the husband-wife and the parent-child relationship, but not for the grandparent-grandchild one.
This makes sense because grandparenting roles vary widely. Grandparents range in age from 35-100 (more than half are under 55); they may be in the prime of life or old and frail, may live with their grandchildren or around the globe from them. Their involvement in children’s lives ranges from being surrogate mothers to far-away strangers. Obviously then, we cannot expect all grandparents to play similar roles in children’s lives.
Nevertheless, there are some general roles grandparents can play to ensure they leave a legacy in their descendants’ lives. Chief among them is the role of prayer warriors. Have you heard of Richard Freeman? Probably not. He’s not well-known.
He was an ordinary Christian who committed to pray for every member of his family by name each day. As he grew older and his extended family larger, it would take him more than an hour each day to intercede for each one of them. I’ve never met Richard Freeman, but I know three of his grandchildren—solid, mature, passionate young servants of the Lord whose lives are counting for Christ.
A desperate mother once approached her pastor for counsel. After she poured out her heart about her son’s wayward lifestyle and resistance to the Gospel, and told of her desperate daily prayers and tears for his conversion, he reassured her that her son would be saved. “The child of such prayers,” he explained, “can never be lost.” He was right. The woman’s son was miraculously and radically converted. His name—Augustine, perhaps the most influential Christian in all of Church history.  Whether you live near or far, you can shape your grandchildren’s destinies through the power of prayer.
Elderly people make the best intercessors because they are less distracted by the busyness of youth. Grandparents can play the role of storytellers. Stories wield power.
Not only are stories fun, but they also kindle interest, spark creativity, convey wisdom and impart values. God Himself is the supreme storyteller. When He wanted to reveal Himself to us, He chose stories as His preferred way.
Almost 70 percent of the Bible takes the form of stories.  Both in the Bible and in the cultures of the world, stories have always been the preferred method of transferring community values. The elders of Israel were master storytellers, educating the children of Israel with tales of great events of their past to give them a sense of their history and their destiny.  
Grandparents make wonderful storytellers. They have a wealth of experience from which to harvest stories—factual and fictional, light-hearted and heart-wrenching, some to entertain and others to educate.
Children love stories. Even adults perk up when someone tells a story (I bet you do in church when the preacher begins a story). May grandpa and grandma never lose the art of telling stories that touch young hearts, especially those about godly heroes whose faith in the Lord makes loving and serving Him attractive. Stories like that leave a legacy. 
Grandparents should be role models. The only time the word ‘grandmother’ occurs in the Bible, it describes Lois, whose sincere faith lived on in her grandson Timothy – 2 Tim 1:5. The word translated “sincere” is a combination of two Greek words, ‘not’ and ‘hypocritical’. Lois’ deep, genuine faith in God translated into a lifestyle honouring to Him. Sincere faith is contagious; Timothy caught it! Thanks in no small measure to his grandmother’s example, he became a mighty man of God.
Grandparents can exert great influence by the power of a godly example. In centuries past, grandfathers used to be domineering and dictatorial family rulers, using their wealth and estate to manipulate and control their families. Thank the Lord, that those days are gone. Today Godly grandparents wield a different form of power—the power of example.
They are living models of His love, gentleness and compassion, symbols of His faithfulness, examples of His goodness.
The final role of grandparents I want to touch on is that of wise confidants. In Biblical times, wisdom was associated with mature age (how strange…not with teenagers). The reason for this was simple: The more experience you had of real life, the better equipped you were to offer life-counsel. The older generation knew their world best. During the twentieth century, rapid technological changes reversed this—the older you were, the less in touch with the world you were likely to be.
Grandparents’ status fell from valuable members of the community whose insights were sought after to out-of-touch has-beens with nothing left to contribute.
Current research shows a positive reversal of this trend. Today’s young adults are more willing to consult grandparents for advice than their parents were.
In one study, 80 percent of teenagers indicated that they viewed their grandparents as confidants. They may not know how to solve your internet problem, but they know a thing or two about life and love, joy and sorrow, success and failure.
How wonderful that the younger generation are once again starting to treat their elders as resources, reservoirs of wisdom.
Grandparents bring blessing in many other roles they play too. They may be family historians, passing on valued traditions. Some are household negotiators, representing children’s interests to parents.
Others are playmates, still others are listening ears, and in a society ravaged by divorce and the HIV/AIDS pandemic, many have to take up responsibilities as caregivers or even surrogate parents.
This I know: If you love and serve the Lord with all your heart, your life can continue to bear fruit in your grandchildren’s lives. They are part of your legacy.
“The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green”  – Psalm 92:12-14.

Hollywood Religion

Hollywood Religion
WHEN MY WIFE AND I AND OUR FAMILY moved from New Zealand to the United States in 1989 we experienced a culture shock.  I went to give blood at a hospital and was handed a form to fill out.  In my country, a check mark on a form can mean ‘yes,’ and an X can mean ‘no.’
The questionnaire asked if I had had certain diseases.  I ran the pen down the list of 20 to 30 serious ones and quickly put an X beside those I didn’t have.
When I took the form to the counter, the nurse looked at my list and then up at me as if she had just given blood.  According to my form, I had venereal disease, tuberculosis, yellow fever, AIDS, malaria and about 20 other major diseases.
Another culture shock for me was the open way Americans talked about God.  I watched a woman in Oklahoma testify on national television to the power of a tornado that ripped her home apart.  She concluded:  “It’s just God’s grace that kept us safe.  We prayed, and He took care of us. My family is safe, and that’s all that really matters.”
This was secular news!  Open talk about God just didn’t happen in other countries.  America was unique.
In recent years, talking about the things of God has intensified in the media.  ABC, CBS and NBC have all started covering spiritual issues even more.  The foremost secular magazines have published stories on prayer and the life of Jesus Christ.  Books on spirituality have been flying off the shelves and holding their places for months on ‘The New York Times’ best-sellers lists.  A December 2004 ‘Newsweek’ poll revealed that an incredible 93 percent of Americans believe Jesus lived and that 82 percent believe He was and is the Son of God.  When ‘People’ magazine published its cover story about ‘The Passion of the Christ’ in April 2004, it posed the question:  “Does Hollywood Have Faith?”
According to the popular publication, Hollywood had some believers, but they were few and far between – or very hard to find.  The stars, for some reason didn’t reflect the spiritual light of mainstream America.  Soon after the movie burst out of the box office and into the bank, ‘The New York Times’ stated:  “Hollywood producers and studio executives, witnessing the overwhelming success of Mel Gibson’s ‘The Passion of the Christ,’ are reconsidering whether they have been neglecting large segments of American audiences eager for openly religious movies.” 
The film made obvious the spiritual disparity between Hollywood and the rest of America.  The reluctance to produce movies with a positive spiritual theme had been there, although Hollywood had known for years that films such as ‘The Ten Commandments’ and ‘Ben Hur’:  A Tale of the Christ’ (which won 11 Oscars) are loved by American audiences.
After the release of Gibson’s movie, I began research on my book ‘What Hollywood Believes:  An Intimate Look at the Faith of the Famous’.  At first (as seemed to be the case with ‘People Magazine’) I found it difficult to uncover the beliefs of celebrities.  It was as if Hollywood was spiritually bankrupt.  But with stubborn persistence and comprehensive research I amassed more than 120 spiritual beliefs of the famous.  The research was almost addictive.  Each time I found a quote it was like finding a golden needle in a great mountain of information.
To my surprise I discovered that more than a few had convictions about the supernatural realm and the Bible.  One celebrity thought God was a woman.  Others had an intellectual belief in God, but it was obvious they didn’t have a living faith.
What was of deep interest to me was the wide variety of beliefs they held.  It confirmed that each of us has an innate desire for something spiritual (proving God is real and that He has placed eternity in our hearts as Ecclesiastes 3:11 says), and that celebrities often latch on to whatever spiritual belief system they encounter – for the simple reason that they encountered it.  It sounded good to them, so they embraced it.
That’s why Christians who love God and have a concern for the lost need to stand up and unashamedly speak the truth. We want them to cling to “the old rugged cross,” not “whatever they come across.”
The stars I researched weren’t strictly from a bygone era.  I discovered the spiritual thoughts of Michael J. Fox, Martin Sheen, George Lucas, Robert Duvall, Kevin Costner and many others.  However, the difficulty I had uncovering them confirmed what I had suspected for some time – many do have a faith in God, but their light has been deliberately “hidden under a bushel” – Matt 5:14-16.
I witnessed this in Hollywood in 2002 during a meeting with the managers of a well-known actor.  I heard them say that any public talk about his faith would mean the death of his career.
They spoke the truth.  America may not be anti-God, but Hollywood evidently is, and celebrities who are actually prepared to live out their convictions will be blacklisted, unless they are too big to touch.
In November 2004 Jim Carrey, for example, boldly told CBS’ ‘60 minutes’ he took strength from the spiritual side of his life and that those who didn’t like him expressing strong spiritual beliefs would just have to deal with it.  Big stars, like Carrey, can let their lights shine without any fear of dark and negative repercussions.
Madonna too was a big enough star to make Jewish mysticism cool, with her much publicised belief in Kabbalah.  She gave more than $25 million to the religion in 2004.
However, a person with a genuine faith in Jesus Christ will live his life accordingly, and that can cause problems in the movie business.  A sincere Christian actor will not take his clothes off and jump into bed with a woman, even if the rationale is, “It’s just a movie.”  He will strive to be blameless.
So when a sexually explicit script comes his way, he will either turn it down or seek to make changes, and few scriptwriters want actors making changes to their scripts.  Any hold-up in production can be very expensive, so he quickly becomes known as a troublemaker.
An actor friend of mine once called me and said he had been offered a great movie deal but that he had a problem with one part of the script.  The story-line was wonderful, but as is usual in a romantic movie, it included an intimate conversation and ended with a passionate kiss.
He was offered $100 000 for doing the movie but answered, “I won’t kiss another woman like that, and besides, what would my kids think of me if they saw the movie?”  He turned down the part because it could have been used to undermine his Christian testimony.
I greatly respected him for that.  Think of it.  Could you bring yourself to kiss someone other than your spouse for 10 seconds – for $100 000?
Despite the fame and the accolades that attend them like no other human beings, actors are like the rest of us.  They think deeply about the issues of life and death, God and eternity.  Real life, after all, isn’t a movie.
Why then are the Hollywood elite so out of step with the rest of the country?  Why aren’t they producing wholesome movies with a deep spiritual theme?  Why are they so anti-God?
The answer is simple.  Those in the entertainment industry are typically self-confident and talented people, many of whom admit to having rather large egos.  They are proud of who they are and what they have achieved.
They want to be in front of the camera, the spotlight.  They are not the type of people who gravitate toward the selfless humility of Christianity.
Rather, they are offended by the principles of a religion that talks of modesty, of childlike faith, of a Babe in a manger, of a King on a donkey.  Any talk of the reality of personal sin and the need for God’s forgiveness in Christ is, to them, abominable.  Consequently, we have a nucleus of people in the entertainment business whose life’s philosophy is Godless, and this is clearly reflected in their “God-less” industry.
But we’d be kidding ourselves if we didn’t acknowledge that celebrity is very powerful.  Recently I interviewed a gentleman for a new TV programme about celebrities and spirituality.  As an appreciation to those who were willing to be interviewed I gave away complimentary copies of ‘What Hollywood Believes’.
At the conclusion of our interview I said to the man, “I have a free book for you.”
“I don’t want it,” he replied.  “I don’t like reading.”
“You will want this one.”
“No, I won’t,” he said.
“Yes, you will,” I mumbled, but again he adamantly responded that he did not want it.  I handed it to him anyway and said, “It’s the spiritual beliefs of 124 big-name celebrities.”
He looked at the cover, exclaimed, “Kevin Costner!” and walked off clutching the book.  Ten minutes later he returned and said, “Hey, thanks for the book.”
Yes, celebrity is powerful.  If you don’t believe it, just take a few minutes to check out prime-time TV programming and see what holds the interest of the world.  You will find ‘Hollywood Squares’, ‘Hollywood Justice’, ‘Hollywood HD’, ‘Access Hollywood’, ‘Celebrity Blackjack’, ‘Entertainment Tonight’, ‘Extra’, ‘The Insider’ and more.
All those programmes major on celebrities – what they think, do, say, wear, work on; and whom they date, marry, hang out with, and so on.
I travel regularly with actor Kirk Cameron, and we are both amazed at the power of his celebrity.  When we are in public I normally walk a few steps behind him and when people recognise him, I hand them literature that has been especially printed for such times.
To explore and discuss the reality of celebrity and faith, Kirk and I are creating a new TV programme titled ‘What Hollywood Believes’.  He will interview A-list celebrities about their spiritual beliefs.
There has never been a television programme that has combined those two powerful dynamics – celebrity and spirituality.
Hard though it may be to believe, Hollywood began with a spiritual heritage.  In the early 1900’s, the town was giving away free land to anyone who promised to build a church on the property.  Things have changed since those days, so it is even more essential for us not only to live our faith but also to spread it.  We need to be salt and light.  The Church’s saltiness can help preserve moral decline, but it is the light of the Gospel that will transform Hollywood and bring it back to God.

Torn Apart by Divorce

Torn Apart by Divorce
Divorce is a very selfish affair. It doesn’t consider the children. Perhaps it tries to compensate for their loss in rands and cents by a generous provision for their maintenance. Then there are those who use maintenance as a weapon to either compel one or other parties in the break-up to fulfil an egotistical wish or on the other hand to ‘punish’ the other parent or child for wrong reasons. But it can never, ever undo the psychological damage done to the heart of a son or daughter who has to work through it just as much as anyone else affected. If only we would realise this. It is perfectly true that God can effect a healing of the heart like none other can. On the other hand, we must not think that we can get away with sin all that easily. And we need far more empathy than we have, especially when we consider that Jesus solemnly warned that if we put a stumbling block before children, some of whom He received and blessed so heartily, we are in danger of severe judgment.
I HAVE A LETTER FROM A girl who anonymously signs herself “A wounded heart.” It reads:
“Please, please don’t sign them! O Daddy, don’t sign those papers!”
“My pleadings must have added greatly to my father’s burden, but the pen, held firmly in his hand, continued to write his name on the final paper.
Thus was my world destroyed and I with it, for on that day something died in the heart of a child. A child? In years, yes, but the child pleading in the divorce court that day would never again be a carefree little girl. For now my Mommy and Daddy were divorced. It was a big world and a hateful one. What it meant to grownups I did not know, but what it meant to me is a story that can never be told. To us children our home was our world, with both Mommy and Daddy essential parts of it. But that world had suddenly crumbled. Like a storm that strikes suddenly and leaves you to pick up the pieces, so life had suddenly turned our home inside out and upside down. Much of the shock lay in the fact that the ones destroying it were the two who had been our very security and life. From now on the family must be divided. I was told to choose between my mother and father – I could not have both, though I loved both and wanted them, both of them, to love me. Each was so necessary to me; how could I turn my back on one and say I wanted the other more?
I remembered nights when I was sick and my mother kept vigil – how she had fed me and tended to my needs. Surely she loved me. When things troubled me, I had always gone to her, and her explanations had banished childish fears. I had great faith in my mother.
Nor could I doubt my father’s love and the close place I had in his heart. Often my brothers had sent me to Dad when they wanted some favour, knowing he seldom refused me. This special place I had with Daddy was perhaps because I was so like him and we understood each other so well. I had deep respect for my father – but how could I compare that to what I felt for my mother? And how could I make a decision that would separate me from either?
This was the down payment for the price of divorce – and the children had to pay. To parents who still count the cost, I plead the cause of your children. If you subject them to the agony of choosing between the parents they love, something wonderful has to die in their hearts in the unnatural struggle that choice entails.
Years have passed, but I still shudder at the memory of the day I left our home – with my mother. Daddy cried like a child, and then just stood and stared into space. I have wondered what went through his mind then. He had worked so hard to do right by his family, and now all he had built was gone. Was part of his grief due to the fact that missing from the circle of his motherless children was his only daughter? [Fatherless?] Was he thinking of what might have been? In my mind there is no doubt what might have been: theirs could have been a successful marriage had they determined to keep the home intact – had both, or even one been willing to sacrifice personal feelings.
As far back as my memory goes, I remember my parents quarrelling. Like all quarrels, these were born of selfishness and stubbornness, with neither willing to give in to the other. Foolish advice is, “Separate if you can’t get along; it will be better for the children.” (Better to crush six young hearts than for one or two to bear small hurts? Better the blow should fall on six lives, young and tender, not old enough to know why they should be separated from one another?)
Bitter protests and tears were vain, for divorce courts do not consider human hearts when they collect their dues. Mother and Daddy were to be ‘free’, but we children were not. I became a slave to despair. The quarrels? They ceased, to be sure, but cries of heartbroken children took their place, and I for one, longed to hear those quarrels if only it meant I could have my Mommy and Daddy back.
This story is my own – the plea that I make is of my own heart, though my brothers, too, could write their stories, and neighbours in our small town could add to it. Perhaps it is just a familiar story – Daddy too busy to do the little things that matter so much, and having to neglect his six and eight year-old boys. My little brother longed for his mother, but his loss and grief gave expression to meanness; so he became a problem child in school. My teenage brothers became involved with the law to the extent that they spent a night in jail. I realised even then that this, too, was part of the price of divorce that the children pay.
Perhaps a girl needs her mother even more than do boys. I seemed to cut the deepest and suffer the most. The shock of that day in court was indelibly printed on my memory, but I had only begun to taste the bitter portion dealt to a child of divorced parents. With Daddy thrust out of my life, my brothers gone, my heart fastened more tenaciously than ever to my mother, words cannot express the shock that was mine when I found her in the arms of another man. In that instant I knew utter desolation. I had lost my father – now my mother no longer belonged to me. Another man – a stranger to me – had taken her and this discovery completely changed and embittered my life. Emotions that had been sealed within me now broke forth in endless weeping. Bitterness enveloped me like a cloud and resentment made it impossible for me to speak peaceably to Mother. With confused emotions came the resolve that no one else should have her – she belonged to me and Daddy! I became crazed with the idea that I must win her from the one whom I felt was the cause of my sorrow. A showdown had to come. One day I found Mother and her boyfriend with other friends in the front garden. Blind despair and lingering hope gripped me, and for me that gathering became a court session, with a child as prosecuting attorney and the neighbours as jurors. The desperation that filled my heart poured out: Our need of Daddy, our need of the home we had left – oh, please Mommy, let us go back and be happy.
Artists may paint human suffering but neither artist’s brush nor writer’s pen can recapture the horror of the moment when a child realises it has lost the battle for its mother’s love. One day she had been my mother – the next, she was a stranger whose only feeling seemed to be displeasure at the scene her unreasonable child was causing. Neighbours pitied and tried to comfort, but their words did not reach me – I knew only departed hope. I had failed, and no failure had ever involved so much. I may have been in a state of shock as I found my way back to the old home. A few weeks before I had been in this home – a happy, confident child, but as I entered the familiar garden there was no joy in my heart – no anticipation or eagerness. Daddy met me at the door and seemed thankful I had returned, but he found, to his sorrow, that it was not the same little girl who had come back. Shock and grief caused youth to flee, and with it had gone laughter and joy. He tried, but was not able to save me from the depths of despair to which I sank. I wept until tears no longer came. There was no healing for my wounded heart.
When we heard that Mother had remarried, great bitterness possessed me. Grief had so eaten away at my life that I became hard and rebellious. The faith that my mother had destroyed caused me to lose confidence in everyone, even my father, and I felt that everyone was against me. Nothing mattered anymore. When Daddy corrected me, I thought that he too had turned against me, and I rebelled under his authority.
I left him and stayed with anyone who would have me. Later, harsh circumstances compelled me to go back to my mother and her husband. I must have been a shadow of the past to them, and I lived with the stinging reality that I was not wanted. Yet every fibre of my being craved to be loved. Violent arguments – a war of hate – began between myself and the intruder.
Strain began to show on my mother’s face and in my misery I found secret consolation in the fact. My strained emotions became a physical illness, for the human system can be over-taxed just so long before something breaks. Clouds of gloom settled over me; nightmares caused me to run screaming through the house. I suffered cruelly and, being alone most of the time, I actually developed a fear of people. I succumbed completely to shattered nerves.
I wish I could take the hand of every parent harbouring the thought of divorce and lead you back with me into the valley through which I have come. If the hurt of an innocent child’s heart, the bitter shock of tender life, the tears of the unwanted, misplaced child, the horror and gloom could be called to witness in the divorce courts, no child would again have to walk the dreadful road that starts with the signing of those final papers. Instead, the tears would become your own and in the valley you would realise that the ones who suffer in divorce and remarriage are the innocent children.
Thank God, in my struggles through that darkness I met the Saviour and slowly – very slowly – began to live again.
Since that time I have married, and at one time it seemed that I would fail as my parents had. But through sacrifice and love I was able to prove that marriage can be made to last. My wonderful husband and loving children are my reward after having, like Job, drunk scourging like water. Many will say, “But my case is different.”
I contend that every marriage can be made to last if either husband or wife will fight to that end. Mine did not succeed overnight, but every effort proved worthwhile for, through sacrifice of my own feelings, I brought out qualities in my husband that I had not known existed. God alone knows the joys I now reap from every battle I fought – with myself – instead of with my husband. I had to learn to give when I would rather take, to smile when my heart rebelled, and to hold my peace and let God speak for me. But it was worth all it cost when compared with the reward – one of the most happy marriages in the world.
From experience I know divorce is not the answer – sacrifice is. You who contemplate divorce – I beg of you, remember me. Hold that child of yours in your arms more closely, and in pity spare him that which I have had to endure and can never forget.”
This letter has spoken to my own heart. It tells me to guard against the faintest manifestation of selfishness. It tells me to consider others before I think of myself, and it warns me that I cannot trifle with Holy Ordinances such as the Divine institution of marriage which God intends for us to keep.
It makes me yearn to see every home a happy one, and it enables me to believe that God can do what we cannot.
Worst of all, when the tragedy of divorce happens, it makes any action subsequently used to make a child suffer even more utterly reprehensible.

Angus Buchan: Faith Like Potatoes

Angus Buchan: Faith Like Potatoes
WHAT MAKES ANGUS’ STORY SUCH AN inspiration?  Quite simply, it makes you consider your own life.  It inspires you to be a better person, to believe more, to have unwavering faith in the power of God.  Many readers have travelled from all over the world to Angus’ farm to meet him.  One such a person, David Harper, a farmer from Worcestershire in England, read the book on a plane to Uganda. When he finished the book, he changed his flight home to stop over in Kwa-Zulu Natal to meet with Angus. He is now making the same massive impact in England among the farmers and has arranged various campaigns in Europe where Angus has preached.
The title ‘Faith Like Potatoes’ came from  a famous American lecturer who  used to tell his students that they needed faith like potatoes. 
He meant that their faith needed to have flesh and needed substance.  As Hebrews 11:1 says, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not yet seen.”
Angus Buchan not only had faith like potatoes, he had faith for potatoes as well. 
Angus, not a university graduate, public speaker or celebrity, but a farmer, managed to gather a crowd of 35 000 people into a stadium in Durban one year to hear him speak and to join in prayer for rain.  The El Nino drought of the late nineties had resulted in complete devastation for local farmers,  coupled with that they were worn out from having to deal with violence on a daily basis.  Farm murders had become common place and people were afraid for their lives.  They were desperate and needed a miracle.  Angus looked at the mix of black and white faces in the crowd, then uttered: “To hell with El Nino! We are going to plant this year! And we are going to plant potatoes.”
Scientists had warned the farmers not to plant that season unless they had irrigation and Angus knew very well that he didn’t have irrigation.Planting potatoes would be a massive risk. Traditionally he was a maize and cattle farmer.Nevertheless he prayed and prayed and He knew that the Lord wanted him to plant potatoes.  He went back to his farm, hired two extra farms and planted potatoes in the dust. If the crop failed he would have lost everything that he had.
On the back of the first edition of ‘Faith like Potatoes’ is a quote that reads: “The condition for a miracle is difficulty, however the condition for a great miracle is not difficulty, but impossibility.”
Angus clearly expected a miracle.
Angus is from Scottish decent and is by nature a very fiery character. Before he came to know Jesus, he was very aggressive and tried to do everything himself. This caused him to clash  often with his farm workers, especially Simeon Benghu, his foreman. What made matters worse was the fact that he had been forced to sell his farm in Zambia at a ridiculously low price and when he got to South Africa he had very little money to buy a farm. They eventually purchased a farm without a house and had to live in a caravan for several months. Jill was 6 months pregnant and they already had three other young children. In addition to the cramped living quarters, there was no running water on the farm.
The farm workers at Shalom soon named Angus, ‘Nkosaan Italiaan’, because they said he looked and behaved like a mad Italian. They used to laugh and mock Angus, saying that they were convinced he would leave the farm in a couple of months.  That was in 1978.  Now, nearly 30 years later, the Buchans still farm at Shalom.
The change in Angus came when he gave his life, his heart, his family and his farm to Jesus during a church service at the Greytown Methodist Church. He decided to take God at His Word and to trust Him in everything. Soon, with the same fiery passion with which he farmed, Angus began to tell people just how God had changed his life. This new faith in Jesus did not make life any easier, but it did give him peace beyond understanding and it assisted him to make sense of life.
What is very striking in the story is the contrast between the miracles and the hardships that seemed to happen. The first miracle came soon after his conversion when he, Simeon and the workers were burning some brush wood on the farm. A gust of wind suddenly blew the flames into the Lion Match Plantation and Angus knew that he could be taken to court if he caused a fire that burnt down someone else’s plantation. He called Simeon over and told him that they needed to pray for rain. Simeon said that it was the dry season and there are no clouds around. Angus went ahead and simply asked for rain.
Within an hour it started to rain and it killed the fire!
When the Lord called Angus to start preaching and to share the Gospel, Angus acted in obedience and soon he started getting calls from all over South Africa inviting him to preach to farmers. His faith grew with every campaign and with every miracle that he experienced.  Then, just as you read about the miracles and think that nothing could go wrong in the Buchans’ lives, a tragic accident on the farm shook their family.
This was an incredibly tough time for everyone at Shalom, but God is always faithful in bringing His peace in times of need.  Even at the lowest point in his life, Angus remained faithful to the Lord. A wonderful part of the story is the fact that today Angus and Simeon Benghu are real brothers in Christ. After 25 years Simeon is still Angus’s foreman and as Angus says: “His children are mine and my children are his.”  Angus and Jill soon decided that their faith needed to have feet, and when they discovered the needs in their community, they opened their farm to 24 Zulu orphans. These children had no parents or homes so Angus and Jill decided to raise them as their own. Today two of Angus’ daughters, Robyn and Jilly, help to run the children’s home.  His children are just as dedicated as he is, and his two sons, Andrew and Fergus run the farm while Angus preaches away from home almost every weekend.
‘Faith like Potatoes’ is a life-changing story.  Local film maker, Frans Cronje, was so deeply moved by the book that he was inspired to produce a feature film with the same name.  It will be released in cinemas in October and on DVD in December. 
This film is set to be one of the most powerful evangelistic films ever produced.  It is envisaged that every church and Christian home would own a copy.  It is right up there with the classics like “The Cross and the Switchblade.”
The movie was shot in Greytown, and at Shalom, the farm owned by Angus and Jill.  By shooting on location where many of the events portrayed actually occurred, an unparalled authenticity has been brought into the movie.
A share of the profits from this movie will be set aside for Angus Buchan’s work, part of which is the Shalom Children’s Home.  The children’s home, and many of the children who live there, are also featured in the film.
Director, Regardt van den Bergh, sum-med it up perfectly when he said, “Our film stays truthful to the heart of Angus and Jill’s story and I believe God, through this film, will touch your heart as He did theirs.”