Long before the vision for a second campus, God laid it on my heart to pray for the of open ground opposite the school. This ground would be ideal for sports facilities. Everybody said that the ANC (African National Congress) controlled city council would never relinquish such a large piece of valuable land situated in the city. An environmental study was undertaken (at a cost we could ill-afford at the time). We knew that such a study would be required when we eventually approached the city council and apply for the ground.
I decided to write to the city council, informing them we were interested in the property. My first option was to offer to buy the land without knowing how I was going to pay for it, my second option was to ask for a 99-year lease, and my third option was for them to donate the property to the school. While praying for the school on 5 April 2010, the Lord took me to Isaiah 45:1–3, particularly verses 2–3:
I will go before you…and level the mountains and smash down the city gates of brass and iron bars. And I will give you treasures hidden in the darkness, secret riches; and you will know that I am doing this – I, the Lord, the God of Israel, the one who calls you by your name.
The moment I read that God would smash down the city gates, I immediately knew it referred to the sports grounds. All I had to do was trust him. I decided to invite the executive mayor, Councillor Kgosientsho Ramokgopa, to our school. He accepted our invitation and visited us on 20 July 2012.
I shared with him the vision that God had given me. Then Jayne de Smidt (formally Barnard), our head audiologist, arranged for five deaf children, who had been granted bursaries (scholarships), and their parents to share with the visitors what it meant to them to be at Eduplex. The testimonies of the parents were very moving and the speaking deaf children, many from Black informal housing settlements, once again brought tears to my eyes. I glanced at the mayor and saw that he was visibly moved.
After the visit, the mayor said that he wanted to compliment us on the work we were doing and donate R200 000 from his mayoral fund to the school. My first reaction was, ‘But that isn’t what I wanted!’ I had a clear plan. I wanted to show the mayor the sports fields! I took him on a tour of our facilities and drove him past the high school that was in the process of being built. Then I continued on to the open fields we wanted for our future sports facilities. I had arranged a tent and a display with all our plans for this piece of land.
I explained that the sports grounds would benefit the whole community – but he didn’t seem to be impressed. As I was nearing the end of my talk, he asked, “Are you finished because I would like to see you in private?” and he immediately walked towards the back of the tent. As he walked, I noticed that he was crying. . I wasn’t sure what to do. As I approached him, he turned around, pointed at me and said tearfully, “It was people like you!” He then continued crying. This happened several times! Eventually the mayor asked: “May I tell you my story? At the back of the tent unfolded one of the most amazing stories I’ve ever heard. “My mother was illiterate. She had eight children, and it was people like you who brought us food. It was people like you who brought us clothes and it was people like you who sent us to school. It was people like you who sent us to university – we have eight postgraduate degrees between us. In fact, my one sister is the vice-president of Citibank in New York because of people like you…today is payback time!” He then said that he would see how he could help us to obtain the land for the sports fields.
Here was a man whose family had been helped by White people during the height of apartheid with food, clothes and education. They probably never realised the effect their acts of kindness, caring and generosity would have in the future. They couldn’t have known that it would lead to the donation of sports fields to a school educating deaf children of all races and economic backgrounds alongside their normal hearing friends. One month later, 15 members of the City of Tshwane’s mayoral committee arrived at the school with their blue lights flashing. They spent three hours at the school as I gave them the same tour that I’d given the mayor.
After a lengthy process, the donation of the property was eventually approved at a full council meeting of the Tshwane city council in August 2014. Eight years later (2022) the grounds were finally transferred on the Eduplex name. God truly made the impossible possible.
The biggest mountain before me now was how to pay for the development of the grounds. In April 2015, one of the Eduplex learners, Annabeth Duvenage, asked to see me. She said she felt the Lord was leading her to give R100 ($10) of her birthday money towards the development of the sports grounds. This was the first donation we received. I accepted it with gratitude, but deep in my heart I wondered what I’d do with this small amount, a mere drop in the ocean.
Early in May 2016, I travelled to Zurich. On the day of my arrival in Zurich, I was having dinner in a restaurant with a friend and his partner. We were ready to leave when I felt a cool, soft hand on my neck and cheek. I turned around and saw a very good Swiss friend, Audrey Rittz and his partner Gertiè standing behind me. “I thought you were in Portugal?” I cried out, as I was not expecting them to be there.
“No, we are flying tomorrow. We walked past the restaurant and saw you sitting here, and thought we’d come and join you.” Over a glass of wine, my friend asked, “How is the sports field development coming along?” I explained the progress to date. Then he said he wanted to help us. He would send a Swiss who designs world-class pump and mountain bike tracks to give us some advice and even design a track for us. He asked about a swimming pool and I said we would love one, but couldn’t afford it. “I know what a pool costs. I will help you with R14 million (CHF 1 million) – no conditions. You can do with the money what you want.”
A meal, a friend walks passed, a glance in the right direction, a simple question on how things are going, and God works in my friend’s heart to help us with a fortune.
“In the LORD’s hand the king’s heart is a stream of water that he channels toward all who please him.”
— Proverbs 21:1 [NIV]
Weeks turned into months as I waited for the donation to be transferred, and I became despondent. Contracts were signed, heavy earth-moving equipment arrived on site and the earthworks began.
One evening, at the end of August 2016, without knowing the stress I was under, Annabeth’s father, Christo, felt that he wanted to go and pray on the grounds together with Annabeth and her mother Lize. They stopped at the grounds, and Christo shone the car’s lights over the field. Praying, Annabeth opened the car door, opened a small bottle of water and poured it out onto the ground. Lize asked Annabeth why she was doing this. Annabeth answered, “The Holy Spirit instructed me to do it as a sign of the water that will always flow here, and that will let the grass grow and fill the swimming pool. When people look at this, they will always be reminded of God’s miracles.”
Just over two weeks after Annabeth poured out the water on the field, we drilled for water. The sports fields needed 70 000 litres per day during the ‘growing in’ phase (less for maintaining them). So, finding enough water for the maintenance of the fields was critical.
I realised that with Annabeth’s R100 it was impossible to build the sports grounds, but in God’s hands it was possible. God used her R100, given in faith, as the key to unlock greater treasures… just like the little boy with his five loaves of bread and two fish…and God did the rest. (John 6:1–13). God multiplied Annabeth’s gift 140,000 times to make the impossible, possible.
At 85 metres depth, my property manager, Mike Stolk, asked if the contractor should stop as they could only find 1 500 litres per hour. “What depth did they quote for?” I asked. Mike answered, “90 metres.” “Then let them drill to 90 metres,” I instructed him. At 90 metres, we struck water at 30 000 litres per hour…just what the Holy Spirit promised Annabeth, “…a sign of the water that will always flow, and that will let the grass grow and fill the swimming pool.” We had more than enough for our needs – thank You, Jesus!
God answers prayer. He will also answer yours and make the impossible, possible.
Soli Deo Gloria!
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