You brought us into the net; You laid affliction on our backs.
You have caused men to ride over our heads;
We went through fire and through water;
But You brought us out to rich fulfillment.
My late grandmother, Mariet Jooste, was a woman filled with tremendous faith. She was deeply humble, filled with rich wisdom, had joy bubbling out of her and a faith that could literally move mountains. She was a true intercessor and supported missionaries across the world in their task of making fishers of men. Her door was always open to anyone and she befriended the poor and the wealthy alike. She did not see people through her human eyes but through the eyes of our loving Father. I long to have one last cup of tea with her now that I am older. There are so many questions I would have loved to still ask her. Oh, for one last moment to glean from her Godly wisdom!
Now, my dear ouma Mariet did not have it easy in life. And as storytellers do, today I want to tell you a very vulnerable and precious story that changed the lives of our family for eternity.
Mariet was in her late 20's, unmarried but filled with a zeal for life. She was a teacher and poured her heart into her students. One day her friends wrote to a farmer living in Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) under Mariet's name and his friends received the letter and wrote back to her under his name. And so they started writing to each other. Mariet was quite adventurous and decided to visit Charles, the cotton and tobacco farmer of Bindura. The visit went so well that they decided to get married in a short while. Mariet left her beloved home country, South Africa, along with everything she was well acquainted with. She started a new chapter in an unknown place and culture.
She quickly grew fond of all the people in the area and the locals adored her. She was hospitable and could fill any plain old room with laughter and joy. Abba soon started adding to their family. First a little baby boy was born, not long after that another little boy was added to their family. Much to their surprise a third pregnancy followed rapidly after the two boys. To their astonishment identical twin girls were born, one of which I am honoured to call Mama. 13 months followed and my dear aunt Susana was born. She is the one keeping the stories of my beloved gran alive.
After a few years of no little ones being added to their family, a last little boy was born on 2 February 1972. He was named after my grandfather. Charlesie.
Charlesie was deeply loved by all of his siblings. He was a lot like Ouma Mariet, with joy and adventure beaming out of him. He was a true gift to the family. He loved sports and squeezed himself into the rugby team long before he was of the acceptable age to join the team. In the year that he was to start his formal schooling, the terrorism in Rhodesia had became severely violent. My grandmother decided that she would rather homeschool him for that year. All 5 of the other siblings had to go to the hostel at their school.
In those times, the political atmosphere was very tense. Terrorism was rising up with a fierce tenacity. There was a 4pm curfew on the roads and the people of Rhodesia battled the gripping fear.
My family joined a church in their small town where a lot of the farmers and their families came to worship the Lord on Sundays. Ouma Mariet attended the church every other week, along with her six children. But because of the roads getting more and more dangerous to travel on, Pastor Lynn Everswick and his wife, had a creative idea of having Family Days on the farms every Sunday afternoon. The hosting family would prepare grills and everyone would bring meat and food along. The afternoon was spent with sweet fellowship, children playing and words of rich encouragement filling the air in sweet aroma.
On one of the occasions, a baby shower was hosted for one of the ladies that was soon to have her first little bundle of joy. Mariet prayed for her as little Charlesie, 7 and a half years old at the time, climbed onto her lap. She held him tightly to her chest as she prayed over the new mama-to-be. Afterwards everyone had to quickly get into their cars and drive in convoy to their farms down the road.
It wasn't long after that meeting subsided, that the local hospital phoned Pastor Lynn with great urgency. He had to rush to the hospital to come pray, immediately.
Upon arriving at the hospital he found my dear grandma holding a critically wounded little Charlesie in her motherly embrace. Tears were softly streaming down her beautiful face. A horrific accident happened that afternoon on their farm, Glencairn.
Charlesie had carried the family's UZI, an automatic weapon made in Israel, small enough to fit under his arm. The children living in those areas were accustomed to weapons, as terrorist would sometimes enter their farms. They knew about hiding and sleeping in the inner passage ways when nocturnal terrorist attacks would happen. Charlesie carried the weapon, while he was running. He tripped over a brick, close to the back door and the gun had an accidental discharge.
He shot himself by the most horrendous accident in the head. While writing this, I am wiping away the tears. Being a mama to a little boy myself now, I cannot fathom losing my beloved son in such a way. It is too much for any mama's heart to bear. And I know that the rest of the family also suffered in a way that words cannot explain.
Pastor Lynn was sitting with Mariet in the hospital, reading scripture and praying. She was filled with hope until Charlesie's very last breath. She kept on praying that God will be glorified through her son's life. As his soul was passing through the valley of death, they read Psalm 23.
Charlesie soon was carried from the arms of his dear mama into the everlasting arms of our Beloved Father. He passed from death into eternal life. My grandma softly whispered:
".. I trust God so much!
I know He doesn't make mistakes."
2 February 1972 - 9 July 1979
He left 5 siblings, his papa and mama behind. They were sorrowfully mourning. The grief of losing a child can never be put into words of any existing language. It is unexplainable and will always come with question upon question.
However, the story doesn't quite end here.
A few days later Pastor Lynn led the funeral service. God's presence was tangible and every heart in the congregation was softened by streams of tears, ready to receive the seeds that God wanted to plant. Students from the town were also attending. Charlesie's life touched many souls.
The most precious life that was touched, and forever changed, was my grandfather's. A few days after the funeral service my grandfather, Charles, committed his life to Yeshua. He became a follower of the Way, the Truth and the Life. HalleluYah! Little Charlesie's life glorified the Lord and changed a family forever.
I know that a piece of grief from this bitter occurrence went to the grave with both of my grandparents when they passed away. I don't think it is possible to fully process what happened many years ago in Bindura. But I also know that what the enemy meant for harm, God used for His good and for His kingdom.
I see the fruit of my grandparent's faith in my family. It is weaved into all of our lives. There are so many testimonies of sorrow and joy to be found in all of our stories. It is far from perfect and definitely not finished yet. But I see how God is still glorified in all of our brokenness.
In the Hebrew language there is a word that can be found in Psalm 23. It is my most fond Hebrew word and it's only found twice in the old testament (Psalm 23 and Psalm 66). רויה. Revayah! The meaning of this word is saturation. It is rooted in the following definition: to be satiated or saturated, have or drink one's fill, to take one's fill. In my own terms, this is a place of rich abundance and fulfillment. A place where one is deeply saturated and satisfied.
We went through fire and through water;
But You brought us out to rich fulfillment (revaya).
It is where our cups run over, within the trials and through the fire. When we go through the waters it does not overflow us and the fire will not scorch us. He purifies us as silver is refined.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned,
Nor shall the flame scorch you.
Ouma Mariet left a true legacy of Revayah and so did Oupa Charles. We never really had the honour of truly getting to know our grandfather, as he passed away when we were all very young. But I do remember his laughter. He could laugh from his belly so that the earth trembled. Both of their lives were far from perfect and a lot of sorrow and brokenness can also be found within the pages of their lives. Yet, because they trusted in Yahweh, He satisfied them. He filled their lives with His presence and fullness.
May the legacy of faith and rich fulfillment in Yeshua be carried on into each one of our lives. May we seek the Father within every trial knowing that He makes everything work out for the good of those who love Him. May we be part of a generation that glorifies our King through every hardship and when life is filled with laughter. May He comfort those of you that are mourning over a loss. My prayer for you is that He will be the One to turn your mourning into dancing. He is faithful through it all.
In Him we live
And have our being
Disclaimer: This story is featured in the book YAHWEH: His Fingerprints are Everywhere by Judy Everswick. My dear Uncle, Wouter bought the book on it's release and shared the beautiful chapter on my grandmother with the family. I would like to thank my aunt Susana for helping me with the details of this very sensitive and precious story. It is a pearl in our family history and we ask you kindly to treat it as such, especially towards my family members.