One morning found us, as usual, in a little pine plantation on our knees before God. We longed for personal blessing, for spiritual renewal and revival. Then something happened which we shall never forget. But it is difficult to relate how the inward flash of illumination struck us. It came to us individually yet simultaneously. Elated and with reverent joy we sprang to our feet there on the carpet of pine needles. In our hearts we knew beyond a shadow of doubt that the time had come to start with the Bible study courses. From that instant onward there has never been one moment of uncertainty. God in His own wonderful way had made it radiantly clear to us that this was to be our way. Having revealed this to us, the Lord went on to show us that the teaching would be primarily my task while the other brethren were chiefly to continue their itinerant ministry.
In the evening we told the friends that God had given us this commission. A stir went through the company. Two young girls told us that they had been seeking the Lord at the same time that day – at about eleven o’clock – when they suddenly became quite sure that they were to apply for admission to a Bible school. Now they knew for certain that they were to come with us, at once.
Then one of the young men asked breathlessly, ‘When shall I come?’
‘Where do you want to come to?’
‘Into Bible school of course!’ He turned a fervent eye on me and added, ‘This is all I’ve been waiting for.’
The beginning of this new ministry brought with it much trouble and distress. Should it be a well established organisation or a work freely adjustable to the need of the hour? This matter exercised us greatly and caused much heartache in the coming months. The dark time did not pass without finding us guilty of fault. But God in His faithfulness overruled all things, turning them to good.
Our dear Brother Helper continued in his itinerant ministry while my brother and I began, inexperienced though we were, to fulfil the commission given to us in that pine wood. To us had been given the privilege of starting the ‘Bible House.’ Not a Bible school (whose emphasis is on training of future evangelists) but a ‘House’ in which God’s Word is taught and proclaimed. A House in which a spiritual family would assemble around the Word of God.
The purchase of the first Bible House marks a glorious red-letter day in the whole history of the work. I still marvel when I recall how it happened.
After spending much time in prayer I awoke one morning with the assurance:
‘Today we shall buy the house – the Bible House.’ As I was fully engaged that day I rang up Jacob and said, ‘Could you look for a house today which will be suitable for the work?’
‘Has the time come?’ he asked. Then he continued, ‘May I seek advice from a house agent?’
‘Yes, but above all we shall look round with a praying heart.’
About nine-thirty that morning in a great hurry I was passing through a familiar street. At a street crossing I stopped, not knowing why. There was an urge to turn left into a side street. But I had no reason for doing so.
‘I have no business to do there and I’m pressed for time,’ I said to myself. And yet I had to obey this compelling voice within.
I had taken only a few steps when I had to stop before a reddish brown brick house. I knew instantly, ‘This is the Bible house.’ Then I continued on my way, telling no one of my experience.
About dinner time Jacob bustled in with a gleam of satisfaction in his eye, ‘Just come with me,’ he said, ‘I think I’ve found just the house.’ Silently I climbed into the car feeling quite sure that I already knew where he was going to take me.
Sure enough the car stopped right in front of the identical house. My brother said, ‘After your call this morning we prayed for guidance. Then I seemed to get a vision of a house similar to this one. I phoned Danie and he directed me to this house. What’s more it’s for sale.’
I then told him of my experience that morning. And right there and then, bowing our heads in the car, we worshipped the Lord in front of the ‘Bible House’ and committed the whole matter afresh to Him.
Next we met the owner and asked if we might see over the house. He agreed and showed us all the rooms. Behind the main building stood a smaller house which we had not previously seen. It could be most useful for the work.
‘What is your price?’ we asked the man, a Dutchman. He named an extremely high figure and added immediately, ‘Before we discuss the price you will have to make a first instalment of £500 that I may know that you really mean business. I’ve had too many disappointments already.’
We did not have the £500 but knew that this was our house. I calculated in my mind how much we still had in the cash box. Not much. Just enough to buy bread and butter for supper.
But deep down in my heart I knew with a quiet assurance, ‘You may dare it. Sign the document.’
And so we signed the document promising to pay £500 by eleven o’clock next morning. The agent and the owner were present and thought they were dealing with wealthy people. They were right!
At that very hour two dear sisters, living in a neighbouring city, felt constrained to take their savings book and to visit us. In this way we held the £500 in our hands the same day.
The next morning we entered the agent’s office like millionaires, and, we agreed on the price and were able to start work.
Once again we had tasted the goodness of the Lord.