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Unapologetically HERE

Many years ago, right at the beginning of my public ministry, shortly after we woke up to the indwelling of the Holy Spirit (also called the baptism in the Holy Spirit), we attended a worship conference at Rhema Church in Johannesburg. While the hundred and fifty odd people were in worship, I was asking God, as I often did those days, "Please tell me what is my ministry! I just want to know whether I am a prophet or an evangelist or a pastor or apostle, or hopefully a teacher ... please tell me!"

At that moment, the singing died down and there was silence. I was on my knees crying a puddle on my chair. The worship leader said, "Someone here is asking God, ‘what is my ministry’? God says, ‘I am going to tell you right now’".

Everything in me became still. Probably for the first time in my life, I was totally living in the moment. Then I heard an audible voice speaking in my head:

"Your ministry is to know me."

I knew God was speaking but as so many other times in my life, I did not know how to interpret that at all. I just did not have the container to receive such a word. Just having come out of the Dutch Reformed Church and very new to the Charismatic Renewal, I had precious little background to correctly interpret what the Voice said to me. And it took me roughly thirty years before I started to understand what the implications were. Thirty years of pain and disappointment. I never thought that the end of the journey could be to just know God. In my paradigm, knowing God had to lead to some fruit and the fruit was judged by the contemporary definition of fruitfulness.

The evangelists would judge it by how my knowing God had affected my evangelizing. The intercessors would want to see fruit in intercession, the prophets in prophesying and the apostles in planting churches.

For years I have found myself in a prison of my own delusion that was kept intact by years of tradition. I could not grow in experiential knowledge of God for I could not take the risk of losing friends and reputation. I was limited by the responsibility that I felt to remain moderate so that I would not lose my audience for I felt responsible for my “teaching ministry”. I learnt to refrain from sharing my deepest and most precious experiences to protect me and my audience.

That would have been acceptable if I did not also block my experiences because the pain of it not being accepted was too much. I purposefully tried to stay within the invisible boundaries set by well-meaning people and so I lost my real “ministry”. I could teach but the gift was not strong enough to be life-changing and entertaining at the same time and as long as my goal was to expand that ministry in all good faith, I did not feel the elation from it that real teachers feel. And I was not invited to come back for another service.

My servant ministry never grew to a place where I and others could sense the supernatural edge of grace that we see in the ministries like that of Mother Theresa for example. I started many outreaches that were successful but never had the edge I wanted them to have.

I prophesied but it was not earth-shaking revelation that tasted of supernatural outpourings. It was ministry, and effective to some degree but it was lacking the real power that comes when the gift IS the ministry.

I had realized through the years that although we are all called to know God and we all have the same opportunities and growth is virtually guaranteed if we desire it, there could be some who receive a gift that makes "knowing God", a ministry. These people are mystics ... some called “contemplatives” and they are more than often found in hermitages or off the grid or maybe in asylums or through the ages in prisons or on burning wood piles. For them, “knowing God” does not lead to ministry, it is the ministry.

About eighteen months ago, I reached what I called in my journal a “milestone”. The previous evening my son Marni, who is one of the most generous souls I know, totally free from any compulsion to do anything else but love others, said, “No one has the responsibility to get anyone else anywhere as far as their spiritual journey is concerned”.

He lives that and I realized as he said it that the Holy Spirit was speaking to me. The next morning, I could lay down the responsibility to change anyone's spiritual journey.

I laid down my position as a teacher and leader of others, opinion maker, healer and took on the form of a bond servant. Not a bond servant of any tradition or doctrine, or any person or any church or group, but of God. (Phil 2)

I could lay down my desire for recognition, for more knowledge, understanding, intellect, ministry.

I embraced my own unique calling ...

On the 7th June 2019, I wrote in my journal: “I embrace my own calling to know You in my own unique way and to step out of my head and into my soul. So today I take the first step on the next phase of my journey”.

I am learning to let love be the ministry. For to know God is to love God. As I come to know God better, I am loving more. For God-self is such an explosion of love that it is impossible not to be sucked into the vortex of that love.

I live more and more in a place of adventure and excitement. The Love is so immense that there is always something new to discover. I am no longer aging by the day for I have discovered the eagerness of a child who had not yet discovered the prison of public opinion.

I have lost a number of witnesses but I have gained many who are testifying of the same liberation. My new witnesses are people through the ages who had walked the same journey and had felt the same pain and wrote about it. Even Paul who wrote, “all in Asia have left me”.

What is liberating is that we are not all called to this lonely road and for that reason we are not all gifted in the same way. I can release those who do have the gift of teaching to teach without feeling jealous or left out by God.

I have no more entitlement to minister for I am not competing anymore for the applause. I have accepted that there are people who are more gifted than me and who God is using in glorious ways and who get both to know him and be “effective” in ministry and even get the recognition that I desired all my life above anything else.

I pray that this dangerous self-disclosure will help some out there who have the same calling but have always been bound by religious requirements to operate in a "real ministry". I had wasted many precious years trying to conform to expectations and trying to keep the Doctrine Police off my case.

I am far from perfect; I am mostly still wrong in my interpretation of who God really is. I am just on a journey and have not in any way reached the goal of my calling. God is so vast that no one will ever reach the destination called "knowing God". All I can do is stretch myself out to lay hold of that for which I have been laid hold of. I forget what is behind me now and seek to know God in the deepest way I have been called to know. For I know that I will not go beyond my calling and my sphere of grace, even in this ministry, but I am content that my time on the stage of life will not end without me reaching the goal of my unique incarnation of the Invisible. And finally, I pray that this will also help those who struggle to cope with who I am. I am content now with who I am. I know that I am often frustratingly different, and you often struggle to understand what I say, but I have been called and gifted in a unique way.

Because I have been looking for them, I have met others; ordinary people like me who have learnt that love can be a ministry with powerful effect. And the number of people is growing who are operating outside of the narrow religious parameters defining ministry and who are living powerfully and effective lives without saying much.

Like Jesus of Nazareth they seem to be changing the lives of many just by knowing God.

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Joe de Swardt
Joe de Swardt
Jan 25, 2022

Apologies for only reading this blog now. You encapsulate the nub of the matter so well. We attempt to do valiantly for our God, and learn that He does much better that we. We attempt to endear ourselves through our service, and discover that all along there was an ego jockey driving our good deeds. Then we learn that God may have to stuff clumps of parsley in His ears for our emotional mewling worship. And finally, we get that He wants us to relax and get to know Him and Him alone. Then once we've stopped squinting to the ends of the universe through our spiritual third eye, we discover He is inside of us. Then we slowly learn…


Stephan Vosloo
Stephan Vosloo
Dec 29, 2021

Thank you so much Tracey. I appreciate your encouragement and your insight. As RIchard Rohr teaches, this stuff is more for the second half of life spirituality. We have to establish ourselves when we are young and that requires that we build a container for our ego. Some boundaries. It is also essential that we do that and we see that in the history of Israel. The law is an essential part of the freedom that we experience when we move outside of the limitations we took years to define. The Dalai Lama said, "I have to know the law real well to be able to break it real well" or something to that effect.

That is why I do…


Tracey Richardson
Tracey Richardson
Dec 29, 2021

Stephan thank you. I love your honesty and your vulnerability and that you chose to brave and honest to expose and talk about your journey. Your picture that you chose to support your blog says about as much as the words you used in your blog. In choosing to be HERE no matter what really speaks to me. There is no or little expectation other than “knowing God”. It’s grace that the “knowing” didn’t come easy. Much like the story of the monk who broke both his legs and couldn’t leave his hut and declared that it was the best thing that happened to him. The battle and struggle for ministry that we as servants go through, this is t…

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