This was a Q&A session at EQUIP SA 2012 between Marcus Herbert and Hennie Keyter, with a small talk from Tyrone Daniel at the end. It has been transcribed as such.
Marcus: In 1 Corinthians 4:2 it says those that have been given a trust must prove faithful. I feel God is calling us to faithfulness in what He has entrusted us. Hennie has ministered for over 40 years and primarily into Africa and the Middle-East. How do we overcome the enemy? By the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony, not loving our lives unto death (Revelation 12:11).
We’re in a good place and are positioned to move into the bigness of what God has called us to. One of the last prophecies Dudley Daniel gave when he handed over the team was Amos 9:13 – that the sower would overtake the reaper. In other words, we wouldn’t even have finished the harvest and we would be ready to sow again. Dudley said that, as much as he doesn’t like to talk about it, the Lord was saying that what was thousands would become millions. We sit here as a group of churches with an an amazing inheritance – the nations are waiting. We are through our transition and are positioned for what God has for us.
Hennie has been one of the many guys that have been a pioneer for us into the Africa and the Middle-East. We’re going to pick his brain for testimonies and insights that will inspire us. Then we’ll use the moment afterwards to have a prayer of commissioning and make our intent known before God as individuals and churches here this morning.
So Hennie, you’ve been walking into Africa for over 40 years, breaking open many regions. How did it begin?
Hennie: I got saved in 1972, I can remember the date, it was 2 September but the thing that touched me in my heart was that someone heard of me. He’s still living in Zimbabwe (Rhodesia at the time) and when I received the Lord Jesus this man came over and, I’ll never forget it – it was a Monday night – the Friday I became a Christian and I came from a bad background; this man heard of me and used to go to my parents and say, “You’ve got a son. He’s not serving God but he will come to know Jesus.” So this man turned up at my home and said, “You know something has happened to you and you can’t stay the same. There’s work for you to do.”
He took me to a service that was out of my comfort zone and wasn’t quite the people I’d want to work with at the time. But it was there that my heart was so moved by the fact that there were people going to hell.
There are many ideas around how you can prepare for ministry and do things for God, but for me the heart reality is once you’ve had an encounter with Jesus, there’s no way you can stay the same. It’s 40 years later down the road and I’m still doing the thing that’s very dear to my heart, which is taking this Gospel all over the world.
Marcus: You’ve broken into many new countries and many of us have been on those trips. Tell us about some of them. Like Zanzibar.
Hennie: That was a number of years ago. First, I feel in my heart that two things are critical: you need to hear from God with regards to moving into an areas like that. If God has given you a word that’s the first step and the second thing is the timing.
I had someone in Kenya who told me about what was going on in Zanzibar at the time. He had a contact who had another contact and that’s how we went. Marcus was there. The first group of people we met asked me to share our hearts. And a group listened but half-way through my talk, this contact stood up and walked to the front and asked me to keep quiet. We can’t listen to what this guy is saying, he said, and that was the end of the meeting.
That was our first contact that day and we were only going to be there for two days. On the next day we were on our way to another part of the island and this man made sure that he would go with. We were travelling in the back of a minibus and I was sitting there and praying and saying, “God, we only have one more opportunity as we go to the next village.”
We arrived there and it was a normal little church. But what happened was, on our way there, God gave me a vision of a face of a man and he said, “In this next meeting I’m going to show my power.” When we go out with that kind of thing, knowing that God is with us, you can expect the miraculous. As we came into the meeting they started singing and I opened my eyes during the worship time and a man who looked just like the man God had showed me walked in. He was wearing a dress and you could see his private parts and how they were swollen. It was obvious that he had cancer.
This man was in such pain during our worship time and it was clear that he wasn’t in a good place. I just knew that God was going to reveal his power. We stopped the meeting and I called him out and I told him that I felt God say that he had come from the hospital and the doctor had told him to go home and be at peace because he was going to die. But I said, “God is going to heal you.” And so in that meeting we prayed for him and he was healed and he became one of the leaders on the island!
That’s how the Gospel came to Zanzibar and today there’s a work there. And if God didn’t speak to us and show us the way it may be different. In this case it was through this man that the island opened to us and we’ve had lots of accounts like that and many have gone and can testify about that.
Marcus: A remarkable thing about this trip is the two churches we went to. The negative guy was our interpreter and he had said in Swahili to the crowd that he had come with us to see what he could get from us and they should just sit and listen a while.
Hennie, tell us about Ethiopia.
Hennie: Psalm 2:8 says, “Ask of me and I’ll give you the nations.” I was up in Kenya at the time and God moved me with this scripture and said he is pushing us further up north. We travelled to Ethiopia not knowing quite what was waiting for us there. We arrived in Addis Ababa and I felt that this is not the place. There was a bus depot and one of the buses was going Debre Zeyit and so we travelled there. I discovered that this was a military town (Ethiopia was at war) and most of their operations were going from there.
We ended up in a brothel – not the best of places to stay! There was lots of activity at night and the next morning I sat outside and felt that God is prompting us. So we started walking on the streets and as we went and walked into a house there was a group of men sitting there and I wasn’t sure what to do. I felt that, if you want to know what’s in the heart of a person, the best way is to offend them. So, I thought, they don’t know me and I’m going to say something and see what comes out. As I did that the leader of this group said, “You know, you can say what you want, but three months ago God spoke to us and said that today we must go to this place because there’s a man coming and you need to hear what he says.”
That’s how Ethiopia opened for us and that was ten years ago. But I believe we’re in a new season where what we see in the book of Acts will happen with us. Close to the end of our time with the guys in Ethiopia I was sitting outside at the brothel again and that night was one of those nights again, and a lady came and walked towards me and I was frightened, saying I don’t want anything to do with this! But before that I prayed and said, “God you’ve opened this door miraculously into this country but we need to go further. But from here it’s all into Muslim countries.” I didn’t know where next. Then this lady told me that God had spoken to her and that we must go with her into Egypt.
And that was incredible, the way the door opened up into Egypt, because today we’re working into the Middle-East and it’s very exciting. If we press into God He will direct us. What He did for us he did in the New Testament and we’ve walked in that, knowing that the God of the impossible is the one we serve.
Marcus: Tell us about Sudan. You had a crash-landing in an aeroplane.
Hennie: In this meeting today, it’s overwhelming; if the people who were on these trips would stand up we’d be surprised. Lots of you have gone and had a huge influence into these countries.
There were four of us going into Sudan – Dave, Richard and Anton. Anton had just finished school and Rita said, surely you can’t go to Sudan as there’s a chance you won’t come back alive. But I said to her, “If we’re going to preach a Gospel that’s comfortable for our families to protect them, it’s better that he wasn’t born.”
So we went to Kenya and couldn’t find anyone to take us into Sudan. Eventually we found a Russian who had defected from Sudan with a plane and they were desperate for finance. So they were going to fly us in. The name of the pilot was Smirnoff. They made a small bush runway for us, but Smirnoff overshot the runway and we ended up in the bush.
It was an experience, especially with Anton, who was going on a trip like this for the first time. We arrived in Sudan where we had our meeting and a believer came with a boy of about 12 years old and this boy was hanging over his dad’s arms, feet this way and head the other – lifeless. So he asked us to pray for his son. I went down onto my knees and as we were going to pray for him, Dave had his hand on the boy’s head and saw that there was blood on his hands, so he said he’s not sure if this child is alive.
We prayed and nothing happened. The father took his boy out and literally within seconds he came back and the boy was walking next to him! He was restored! It was miraculous! These are the sort of things that we’ve been longing for and this is what my son (Anton) was introduced to.
Later we were waiting for Smirnoff to come fetch us, but he had been captured and escaped with his plane. We waited during the course of the day and we had run out of supplies with very little water and food left. One of the guys put “Paddock International Airport” on a cardboard box. In the afternoon (we had no water since the morning) I was asked if this was a matter of life and death. I said you’re not dead yet, so it’s not. But I knew it was getting serious.
It was late afternoon and we gave up hope on Smirnoff. We went back to our camp and started to set up our tents. We could then hear the plane coming in and everyone left me and ran with their tent and everything to get to the plane!
Because of the war there was a cut-off time of 6pm when planes could no longer enter another country via the airspace. We got into the plane and I asked Smirnoff about this because it was 5pm and it was a three hour flight to get us in. He could understand some English so I said to him we’re not going to make it. He explained that we were going to land at a U.N. runway.
It must have been late, maybe after 8pm, and you could hear how overloaded the plane was. There were lots of passengers and not much space. You could see there was a problem as the two pilots couldn’t agree and the two GPS’s were not saying the same thing, each indicating the runway at a different spot.
They were eventually looking for a place to land and then in the darkness this black thing appeared in front of us. It was a mountain and we missed it! Then just down below there was a little light that appeared and to me that was something like an angel. Smirnoff took aim for this little light and was going to land there. But the plane’s alarm went off, telling us that we were losing altitude too quickly.
Smirnoff thought we were quite far from the ground but he was wrong, so we crash landed! I looked at Anton who started praying, “Lord Jesus, for whatever I’ve done wrong please forgive me.” And I thought, “You know, this boy is passionate for the things of God. I’ve run the race and I’m ready to go but God, not him.” We hit the ground and it was horrific as it suddenly went dead quiet. The impact threw us into the air and over trees and then the plane stopped. It was so quiet I thought, as I came to myself, that this is heaven. But then I smelt this – there was some children and they made a mess – and I thought heaven can’t smell like this! This isn’t heaven!
We had to leave the plane, thinking it might explode, and the whole day we had no water and people were in shock. The light had disappeared, but in the dark we had found someone, and I asked him with the interpreter where we could find water. Remember, it was a war zone. He said, “If you walk in this direction you will find water.” We had no torch or light and it was pitch black. So I took the water bottles with the interpreter and we started walking and we walked for, I don’t know how long, but in the dark I walked into a pump – it was just God – so I managed to get some water and thought, how will we get back? And we once again walked right to where we needed to go.
The Sudan thing left something with us – how God just moved. So often when we do go out there are lots of stories like that, and it hasn’t been easy. But it’s been very encouraging the way God has come through for us.
Marcus: It says in Acts 15:25, “So we all agreed to choose some men and send them to you with our dear friends Barnabas and Paul…” These men risked their lives. Many of us have been in positions like that; it’s an incredible thing to see your passion for God and the way you’ve impacted many lives with this.
So the regions you’re working into currently are the Middle-East, Ethiopia, surrounding regions, West Africa and Sudan. In these God has placed some really good men around you, so speak to us about partnership. I think the two buzzwords prophetically nowadays are “regions” and “partnerships”. Tell us about Dave.
Hennie: Those of you who have travelled with us know how God has just joined our hearts together. We were once again out in Sudan and we were right on the front lines and literally 400 meters from the enemy and we could even hear their conversations. They received word that two guys had come in and they suspected they were either Israelis or Americans who had come to give support to their enemy.
The next morning they were going to attack us. Dave at the time had problems with his eyes and I remember that time, I don’t know if he was using double contact lenses, and that night knowing we wouldn’t see the next morning he wrote a letter to his family, just to encourage them to get on with their lives. We were stuck with each other – I had him and he had me and he realised we might not see each other again in this life. But he made up his mind that he was going to be next to me when we were going to be attacked.
That’s just one man. There are many people here and they’re not just my brothers they are dear friends of mine and we’ve walked this road. One thing I know, is one day in eternity we’re going to look back at this time when nations have opened up and say it’s been a great privilege.
Marcus: There are many others. There’s a guy, Samuel on the West Coast, that Hennie has an amazing relationship with. I think one man who has impacted a lot of us who’ve been to Malawi is Greshan Nyakamela, who got born again at 70 and through what God had done in his life partnered with Hennie into Southern Malawi. Tell us a little bit about him.
Hennie: Greshan worked for the railways and at the age of 70 retired. But that’s when he came into ministry and together we’ve gone through most of Malawi and big areas in Mozambique. He came to the end of his life and I went to go see him – he was over 100 years old at the time – and he sat there and said to me through the interpreter: “You know, we’ve gone through many dangers, but Hennie I’m afraid to die. I know I’m going to heaven but I don’t know what to expect. It would be nice if you could come with me, then at least I won’t be afraid.”
But I looked at this man, he has been greatly used by God, and I walked him through that and I explained a little bit to him around what I perceive heaven to be like. And I said to him: “Greshan, this is not my call. I can’t decide to go with you, I’d love to, but I tell you what, you go and I’ll meet you soon.” And a few weeks after that he died.
There are many guys like that and God has joined our hearts together.
Marcus: I think the challenge for me is there are many young guys here who have been joined into this family and there are these kinds of adventures and partnerships that God is going to get you involved with for the sake of the nations. A story that stirred me was something Ashley Bell preached at the Oz EQUIP time a while back and he was also reduced to tears. He had gone with Hennie on his first trip to the Congo and as they flew out he saw Lubumbashi and the Lord said, “That’s your lentil patch.”
We need men and women to be raised up like that. It’s not just about being friends and sitting around drinking endless cups of coffee. We’ve got nations to reach. We’ve got regions to conquer for the Gospel. I love how Paul says in Romans 15 that there’s no more place for him to work in the regions he was in at the time. We want to say the same around what God has given us.
We’re in South Africa, and our region is Africa, the Middle-East and wherever else God is going to send us and we’re looking for these partnerships. We’re trusting God for them. We want to go find a few giants to take down and we want to see this Gospel make an impact. And it’s going to cost. The reason why is those lands that are waiting are hostile to the Gospel.
So to end this I was going to ask Hennie a question, in light of these regions we’re working into: how do you get involved? And when I asked him that prior to this he said, “Get saved!”
That’s it, it’s simple. This is our identity as those who are born again into the Kingdom of God. We are born into an apostolic / prophetic household and the way we get involved is we live out our identity in Christ. So, if you feel God tugging your heart and you know God is stirring you, Hennie is going to pray for us and commission us and then we can begin to take on the bigness of what He has called us to.
Hennie: Father, someone once said that the last chapter of the book of Acts has not been written and that we are living the last chapter. And if that’s so, may our lives reflect what happened in the rest of the book of Acts, and there will be a testimony with this generation that we’ve lived our lives for you, that the time is short and how can we do anything else but take this Gospel to the nations?
We stand before you with our hearts open wide and we want to put aside those things which aren’t helpful. We want to hear your voice. We look at what you’ve done for us and we are overwhelmed. We stand before you this day and say Lord Jesus, we want to be faithful to this call and we want to run this race with everything we’ve got.
Father I thank you that you’ve joined our hearts and we are in such an exciting season. There are nations and people waiting to be reached. Father, here in our togetherness, young and old, this day I pray that once again you will stretch hearts and lives and they’ll set everything aside which is not of you and they will focus on that which is eternal.
Lord Jesus, we love you and we want to run this race. We want to be obedient to your call and we say thank you for our time together. Father, as we go from now may things not be the same again. Father, may we just move with this passion in our hearts burning, more and more for you. We love you Jesus.
Tyrone: I hope you understand what happened here. It wasn’t just to get Hennie up to tell us some stories and entertain us. There was a stirring in our hearts afresh and anew for our future. As I said in the first session, we’ve had a season of transition and now we’re in position. Hennie’s stories remind us that we have a history and many people have put their lives on the line for what God has called us to. But more important than our history is the fact that we have a future. And the future, friends, is upon us and there is something about South Africa’s inheritance which is a global inheritance. But Africa is part of our inheritance as South Africans.
I want to challenge you that there is a fresh call for more to help. We cannot take new regions and stay effective with the doors that are already open without more workers. We’re not saying, “Lord give us more”, we’re saying, “Lord, we’ve got the guys. Let’s release them. Let’s open the doors and say ‘run with us; come and help us.’”
This is partnership. It’s not about drinking coffee together it’s about drinking coffee on mission together, breaking open regions. And while some of these stories bring fear, that was not the intention at all, it was more to stir courage to say that God is committed and he will take care of us.
The reality is this though – the doors and regions that are left are the ones that are hostile to the Gospel. Which means that some will go but not come back. The question is, is He worth it? And even, as we heard in the second session, are they worth it?
I know it’s easy to stand on a stage and say all that but friends this is the hour that’s upon us and I’m not asking you to make an emotional decision. It’s a response to the commissioning of this King. What will we do with those who have not heard?
So we’re asking you to get involved with the doors that are open and the doors that are opening. We don’t just need preachers, we don’t just want partners, we don’t just want to go plant churches, we need Kingdom-minded people.
Business people, this is your season to help us walk through the doors and break open the regions. Men and women, young and old – young people, you want adventure, this is it. It’s going to cost you your life. But we’ve heard this and in this time we’re continually hearing that this is what God has called us to to do together.
There are doors that are open. We need you, young and old, to walk with us in this glorious inheritance. Will you come? Will you go? Will you be willing? And if you are please be in touch with all the guys that are working and get your churches involved in mission. I tell you, this is the call from above, and that’s why we’re doing this. It’s “go” time. It’s time for partnerships. It’s time for relationships to become partnerships – no longer talking but walking in the bigness of His call. Our transition has happened. Now let’s go.
Thank you to those who are going. Keep going. And those who God is stirring to go realise that you don’t need to relocate, you just need to go and get involved. Isn’t it awesome that when God opens doors we don’t need to find people out there but we have the people right here? You’re not going for me. We go because of what we’ve seen, what we’ve heard, and what God has called us to. That’s our inheritance, together.