Not too long after this in November 2001, Jesus showed me in a dream that revival would start on the South side of Africa. It was to start right from where I was living, George.
The amazing thing was that Jesus was going to use what I had loved so much, sports, to spread His message all around the world.
In my dream, I was walking on our farm when a sea water fish jumped into my hand. I thought to myself that this could not be possible as there was no seawater around for this fish to live in, as there was only fresh water around.
When I enquired of God as to the meaning behind this dream, He explained to me with these words that He laid on my heart,
I was only living up to a small amount of the potential that He had placed inside of me by me playing rugby. God wanted me to give up my ‘first love’, rugby, which was limiting me for the great potential he had placed in me to be realised. Rugby was my limited surrounding like the fresh water. Through the dream of the sea water fish, He was showing me that He wanted to set me free from the limited into the ‘limitless’ and bigger surroundings of the sea.
Receiving this dream and Jesus speaking to me the meaning behind it was pretty overwhelming for me. Through this dream and me seeking God for wisdom, He showed me that He was going to use me to share the Gospel message. I had a lot of questions as to how I was going to continue to provide for my family, and where I was going to get an income from after rugby. You can appreciate that these were very valid concerns, but they reflected I was not operating out of Faith, but rather doubt.
It was this doubt that made me continue playing rugby rather than pursuing the call that God has given me. I figured that I could have the best of both worlds: play rugby and also do the sports balls ministry.
I was however not prepared to give up playing rugby to fulfill the ministry calling. Being a professional rugby player was my ‘comfort zone’. From rugby I was receiving a steady income and I thought that I could still do the ministry whenever I wanted to.
I played a further two more seasons of rugby and knew in my heart that I had to give it up as it was not fulfilling me as it used to. I was getting more fulfillment out of the outreaches and sports balls ministry than rugby.
I can remember praying to God before my last game of the season around October 2002. I prayed and asked Him to take me out of rugby as I had played enough and wanted to serve Him more.
A real defining moment took place at what was going to be my last professional game. It was against Western Province. Towards the end of the first half I took a severe knot to my shoulder, tearing my ligaments. As soon as I hit the ground from the tackle I knew in my heart that his was my last game. I was substituted and taken off the field.
As it was the last game of the season, and me being the last person to sign to renew my contract for the next season, I approached the coach after the game. That’s when I received the ‘bombshell’ from him. Just one hour before, out club’s major sponsor called to cancel their sponsorship. All the other players had signed before this news except me.
You can imagine how upset I was and cried out to God how this could have been possible.
As I had previously mentioned, playing rugby for me before my encounter with Jesus was my life. Everything I did revolved around rugby and to have to give it all up would have been a real test of my faith.
As much as I was disappointed, I knew in my heart that God was answering my prayers through this sponsor not renewing their sponsorship.
As the Scripture says in Romans 8:25,
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to this purpose.
I can honestly say that had I not ‘encountered’ Jesus and experienced His great love for me, it would have been a difficult decision for me to give up playing rugby.
But after encountering Jesus, when it came to making the decision to five up my earthly passion, it was not difficult. I could see clearly the ‘hand of God’ at work in my life.
When I looked at what Jesus went through on the cross, when He had to die and pay for mine and your sins – all the beatings, pain, humiliation and suffering He endured, me having to give up rugby was nothing in comparison to the great sacrifice He had made for us.
People that knew me at the time were quite taken aback when I announced my plans to retire from rugby. They couldn’t believe that I would do this. According to them,
“I still had more years of playing rugby left in my tank.”
All I could say was when you had encountered the loving and gracious God that I had, there was no turning back from obeying His call over my life.
The story that best describes my situation and one that I relate to often was when Abraham was tested with having to sacrifice his son Isaac, in Genesis 22:1-2,
Sometime later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!” “Here I am,” he replied. Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love – Isaac – and go to the regions of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.”
We need to appreciate how much Isaac meant to Abraham, because before Isaac arrived, Abraham and his wife Sarah could not have children of their own. But in their advanced old age God did a miracle and Sarah was able to conceive Isaac.
So, Isaac was the promised child for Abraham and Sarah. He must have been the centre of their attention and affection, a true reminder of God’s supernatural ability to supersede natural limitation. When we read this, we can sometimes think that God was being unkind to Abraham by having him go through this test.
However, God is concerned with the conditions of our hearts, as our heart is where our innermost thoughts and feelings are stored. He wants to have priority over this important place in our lives. With everything around us we can often replace God as being the priority in our life with other things.
It can be material things, our job/business or like in Abraham’s case our family and friends, or in my case our live for sports. God in asking Abraham to sacrifice Isaac was actually testing his heart, to see whether Abraham would obey Him or whether his love for his son, Isaac, had replaced his love for God.
In my case before my encounter with God, I had made rugby my priority. But thanks be to God for allowing me to see clearly that rugby was not my priority.
Yes, it was a great opportunity through which God had given me to serve Him, but now like Abraham I had to be prepared to place it on the altar and be prepared to give it up.
God is merciful and in seeing that Abraham was fully committed to serving Him, was able to save Isaac as reflected in
Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. But the angle of the Lord called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!” “Here I am,” he replied. “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.”
The key principle that we learn from Abraham here is to trust and obey God. Through this God blessed Abraham and raised him to be the ‘father of many nations’. This was only possible because he had obeyed God. Like how God had given Abraham a promise, so He had with me, that revival would start from the town what I was living in.
But there was a condition, which was for me to give up playing rugby to pursue this calling through the sports balls. Please understand that this was God’s word for me, and I am in no way saying that it is a word for everyone to give up what they love.
I had to learn a very important truth that,
‘Where God guides, He provides’.
When we respond to God in faith, He begins to work out supernatural provision.