|11 days that will transform you life
A pilgrimage on dusty roads through spectacular landscapes. The sun paints artistic shades on sandstone mountainsides. The wind carries a strange freshness in the air. The Maluti mountains boast their splendour. The African soil under your feet reminds of a journey deep within.
Let your heart and mind find its resting place in God. Read more
Discovering God’s heart for the outcast between Agtertang Siding and Adamsfontein
On a cold winters day in the semi-desert, God revealed something life-changing about His mercy and warm loving Father heart.
It was a year before on another prayer-walk (between Colesberg and the Gariep Dam) that I first saw this sign. I was intrigued. It simply indicated the road in one direction to Agtertang Siding and in the other direction to Adamsfontein.
The contrast between the two names struck me as being as vast as those wide plains in the Karoo
Agtertang Siding is near the Oorlogspoort (War gateway) river. In Afrikaans the word “agtertang”, refers to a person of ill repute; an outcast, exile, outsider, recluse, castaway.
Adamsfontein is near the Orange River. In this area the river provides water for irrigation, as well as hydro-electric power. The destination holds the fresh promise of clear sweet water from the wells of Eden and of Adam’s Fountain (Adamsfontein).
It felt like something profound may be hidden in the symbolism of those names. I put these thoughts in my heart and continued on that prayer-walk.
One evening, exactly a year later, the Holy Spirit reminded me of Agtertang Siding and Adamsfontein. A few days after I started praying about it, my wife (Marelise) asked if God wasn’t perhaps laying any new prayer-walks on my heart. My answer was ready and the very next weekend we were on our way to Agtertang Siding.
It would only be a 15km prayer-walk, but we had to drive 600km to get there. We planned to sleep over in the nearest small town, Norvalspont. Someone would then drop us off at the starting point in the morning, and a day later pick us up at our destination, Adamsfontein.
The long road from Johannesburg to Norvalspont gave us enough time to discuss and pray about what God had on His heart for this prayer-walk. My thoughts and prayers centered mainly around the Agtertang as some person; an outcast, an exile, an outsider, a recluse or a castaway.
I had the impression of someone being trapped under a yoke. I literally felt the burden on my shoulders while driving and praying. This lead me take a look at what God says in His Word about the yoke.
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30, ESV)
What I read is exciting because it bears testimony of God’s love and mercy. It really put some confidence and courage into my prayer.
The ancient paths
Just before we started I felt the Holy Spirit prompt me to go visit the local pub. It was still closed but the owner gave us permission to go inside. This was continuing of what God spoke to me before we started. It is in a way part of the two-way communication with God. I wondered why we had to be in the pub.
The answer would soon be revealed. There were many old photographs on the walls. Nothing really caught my attention. I noticed an old map on the wall. What I saw on that map, took my breath away! This surely was the reason why I had to come to the pub. God spoke to me through that old map of the area.
I plotted the route of our prayer-walk and noticed that the farm names – in the exact order of our prayer-walk – held a mysterious message of hope in their names. It was the same message of hope which the Holy Spirit started showing me just over 12 months ago. (The map is more than 25 years old).
This is one of those special places where we can look at the ancient paths, see where the good way is and walk in it to find rest for your souls. (Thus says the LORD: “Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls. But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’ (Jeremiah 6:16, ESV))
This journey symbolised the way the “agtertang” follows to his Adams Fountain. It shows how our heavenly Father has dreams and plans for our good on his heart. It is the same story of how God restores and heals people’s lives, hopes and hearts.
Here are the farm names – in order:
- Eenzamheid, Loneliness
- Uitvlugtsfontein, Escape fountain
- Rietfontein, Reed fountain
- Tzamenkomst, Gathering together
- Vogelfontein, Bird fountain
- Adamsfontein, Adams fountain
God has written a message of hope and salvation right there in barren desert sand.
Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. (Psalms 25:16, ESV)
The place where we find the “agtertang”, the outcast / exile / outsider / recluse / cast away, is usually in a place of loneliness.
At the siding a mile post with the number 68 immediately caught my attention. I believe that it was no coincidence that “68” ended up being right next to the Agtertang Siding. Later I read that the this number refers to God’s mercy.
In the arid landscape, right next to the siding, in the territory of the “agtertang”, God has a stake in the ground claiming His mercy is already there. Another very interesting thing about this is that the word “royalty” is used 68 times in the bible … and “hope” is used 68 times in the Old Testament. “Rejoice” (Chairo) appears 68 times in the New Testament.
Where man sees failure and incompetency, God sees the possibility of royalty. God looks at the heart and sees the potential. When God looks at the “agtertang”, He sees the person’s past, present and also the person’s future. God reaches down to pick up the “agtertang” and transforms that life. (Who is like the LORD our God, who is seated on high, who looks far down on the heavens and the earth? He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap, to make them sit with princes, with the princes of his people. (Psalms 113:5-8, ESV))
A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, God sets the lonely in families, he leads out the prisoners with singing. (A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families, he leads out the prisoners with singing; but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land. (Psalm 68:5-6, NIV))
Uitvlugtsfontein (Fountain of escape)
He will also provide the way of escape (No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. (I Corinthians 10:13, ESV))
The old map shows the next farm name as Uitvlugtsfontein. There is a way out. Father God laid something precious on my heart while we were walking here. I will never forget that. He would leave 99 sheep in the wilderness to fetch one that is lost. So many times in my life I was that “agtertang sheep”. And God came and He fetched me there in my place of crying, shame and dying…
So many times I was the one with the burdens and yoke on my shoulders and then He would find me and put me on His shoulders. Awesome how, even in doing that, He rejoices! (What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ (Luke 15:4-6, ESV))
A large stone, with a red splash of paint on top, stopped me in my tracks. The stone, lonely, on the dry sand reminded me of the words of Jesus: He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.”. (Luke 19:40, ESV)
The stone stands out because it is much larger than any other in the surrounding area. It looked like someone spilled some red paint right on top of it.
Out in the wide open spaces, next to a small dirt road, a single stone cries out of One who loved the “agtertang” so much that He gave his life as a sacrifice. Moses, in the wilderness struck the rock so water could flow, and all the people could drink. (Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock at Horeb, and you shall strike the rock, and water shall come out of it, and the people will drink.” And Moses did so, in the sight of the elders of Israel. (Exodus 17:6, ESV)) Even that rock cried out, pointing to Christ, our spiritual Rock. (and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ. (I Corinthians 10:4, ESV))
And this is the mystery written in the ground. This is what the stone shouted out: There is salvation through the blood of Jesus, the last Adam, our spiritual Rock, the giver of living water. There is a way out.
God, in His great love, reconciles Himself with us through His Son Jesus, for us to become His children. He also loves the “agtertang” infinitely. He has called you by name. You are valuable and precious in His eyes. (He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? (Romans 8:32, ESV))
Rietfontein (Reed fountain)
A bruised reed he will not break (a bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not quench, until he brings justice to victory (Matthew 12:20, ESV))
As we started this prayer-walk in the semi-desert in the Karoo, we were surprised by the interesting contradictions. The small dirt road took us through a world famous stud farm. We saw top class thoroughbred horses running, playing and grazing in paddocks as large as farms. What majestic animals! These horses had us enthralled. The proud stance and the grace with which they moved almost had an air of royalty. My heart jumped when a stallion lifted his head stately and looked me straight in the eyes.
This part of the farm was originally called Rietfontein. God’s grace overwhelmed my heart. The place of the bruised reed has the potential to become the place of the royal stallion.
As we walked and pondered these things, we realised that the land here was already redeemed. This is also a message of hope for us as the bride of Christ.
And your land shall no more be termed Desolate, but you shall be called My Delight Is in Her. (Thou shalt no more be termed Forsaken; neither shall thy land any more be termed Desolate: but thou shalt be called Hephzi–bah, and thy land Beulah: for the LORD delighteth in thee, and thy land shall be married. (Isaiah 62:4 KJV))
I searched the bible for inspiration. In the book of Job I found a passage that reflects much of our prayer-walk: Should people see you as “agtertang” while you are pure and upright, you can know that when God looks at you, He sees your heart. God speaks through His word and tells us to look at the old ways and we shall find that man cannot live without God – the same as a reed cannot exist without water. (If you will seek God and plead with the Almighty for mercy, if you are pure and upright, surely then he will rouse himself for you and restore your rightful habitation. And though your beginning was small, your latter days will be very great. “For inquire, please, of bygone ages, and consider what the fathers have searched out. For we are but of yesterday and know nothing, for our days on earth are a shadow. Will they not teach you and tell you and utter words out of their understanding? “Can papyrus grow where there is no marsh? Can reeds flourish where there is no water? While yet in flower and not cut down, they wither before any other plant. Such are the paths of all who forget God; the hope of the godless shall perish. (Job 8:5-13, ESV))
It was no coincidence that a small truck stopped next to us. The driver asked what we were all about, walking in the semi-desert. When he told us what he was doing there, I was so surprised. He was a farrier, a specialist in equine hoof care. I once again see God’s heart for the “agtertang” as I read this scripture there next to the road:
Then we walked past a few hills and two plains. The silence and vastness gave us some time to reflect. (For I will restore health to you, and your wounds I will heal, declares the LORD, because they have called you an outcast: ‘It is Zion, for whom no one cares!’ (Jeremiah 30:17, ESV))
The peace and tranquillity of the Karoo-veld was brutally interrupted as we came over a hill onto the noisy N1 highway. After crossing over, the field on the other side looked different. The grasses on the planes were not as dry and sparse. We were close to the Orange River.
Tzamenkomst (Gathering together)
How good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity (Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!
(Psalms 133:1, ESV))
The name of the next farm name was Tzamenkomst. It is on God’s Father-heart to restore relationships and families. God sets the lonely in families. (God sets the lonely in families, he leads out the prisoners with singing; but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land. (Psalms 68:6, NIV))
Vogelfontein (Bird Fountain)
Like birds hovering, so the LORD of hosts will protect… (Like birds hovering, so the LORD of hosts will protect Jerusalem; he will protect and deliver it; he will spare and rescue it. (Isaiah 31:5, ESV))
The last farm name Vogelfontein stirs our hearts with excitement. Our first thought is of the eagle soaring in the wind. (but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:31, ESV)) An eagle speaks of someone moving into his higher calling. The mystery in the farm names is, to me, purely a display of God’s mercy. He is a God who concerns Himself with us just because He delights in us. (He rescued me from my strong enemy and from those who hated me, for they were too mighty for me. They confronted me in the day of my calamity, but the LORD was my support. He brought me out into a broad place; he rescued me, because he delighted in me. The LORD dealt with me according to my righteousness; according to the cleanness of my hands he rewarded me. (Psalms 18:17-20, ESV))
The sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings (But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall. (Malachi 4:2, ESV))
We came to the end of the prayer-walk. We followed the directions on the map carefully and ended up on an airfield. The airfield operator told me that there is no fountain. Adamsfontein is the name of the airfield.
A name with more than one meaning. On the one hand, it reminds one of Eden where Adam had access to pure water; clear, uncontaminated and deliciously fresh. On the other hand, there is Jesus, the last Adam, and the mystery of His promise of streams of living water. (Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty forever. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:13-14, ESV))
When God looks at us, He sees different from what other people see. He looks at us with love in His eyes. He is a God of mercy. He has the best on His heart for us. (For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for wholeness and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11, ESV)) He hasn’t forgotten us even if we think lowly of ourselves.
According to the map, we now reached our destination. My heart was still on the journey. Even though the sign said we were at Adamsfontein, I was expecting more. The airfield operator explained, to my surprise, that Adamsfontein is not a fountain, but the name of the airfield. I must admit I was confused … and fascinated. What does it mean that there is no fountain? I prayed about it and asked God how it all fits together. Just listen how beautiful Father God spoke to me.
We start with the meaning of the names of Joshua and Caleb. These two spies were the only two out of all the people of Israel who entered the Promised Land, Canaan. The name Jesus comes from the Greek translation of the Aramaic Yeshua. Caleb means “wholeheartedly”.
Let us now wholeheartedly follow Jesus as he shows us the way to cross over into into our Promised Land.
Israel was ready to go into the Promised Land. They camped in Shittim. They have been here before. That time, however, the people fell into terrible sin and the Lord punished them. Forty years later, God now tells them to get up from Shittim and go up to the Jordan river to cross over. Leave the place of your sin. Cleanse yourself and get ready to go over. They saw the priests taking up the ark, and walk into the overflowing river. As their feet touched the water, the river stopped flowing. At the one side the emptying into the Dead Sea. On the other side the water heaped up at the city named Adam! Only now the people are ready to go through. In the middle of that dry river-bed we see the ark. It is made of acacia wood (Shittim wood). It is pointing us to Jesus.
The acacia wood symbolizes His humanity. The pure gold with which it is overlaid is the symbol of His deity. Inside the Ark of the Covenant, the stone tablets with the law reminds us that Jesus, the perfect man, never broke the law. The golden pot of manna points to Jesus as the Bread of life and the rod of Aaron that blossomed, also points to Jesus who was dead and rose back to life.
Between Adam, our old nature on the one side, and the Dead Sea full of dead works, on the other side, we cross over on dry land. We can now mount up with wings, like eagles in the wind of the Holy Spirit to reach new heights. Adamsfontein is the place where the “agtertang” in his wholehearted searching after and walking with God, moves into his higher calling.
As we reflect on this prayer-walk from Agtertang Siding to Adamsfontein, I hear God asking the same question He asked the Israelites so long ago:
Do you remember your journey from Shittim to Gilgal? (O my people, remember what Balak king of Moab devised, and what Balaam the son of Beor answered him, and what happened from Shittim to Gilgal, that you may know the saving acts of the LORD. (Micah 6:5, ESV)) It was a short distance, but it took forty years to complete. I believe that God showed Himself to us on this prayer-walk as a merciful and righteous God. Let us do what He expects from us in our walk with Him.
The LORD is requiring from us:
• to act with justice
• to treasure the LORD’s gracious love
• to walk humbly with Him
(He has made it clear to you, mortal man, what is good and what the LORD is requiring from you – to act with justice, to treasure the LORD’s gracious love, and to walk humbly in the company of your God. (Mica 6:8, ISV))
God asked Moses what he had in his hand. It was a staff with which he did many miracles.
God also asks from you and me: What is that in our hand. What talent is there with which we can honour Him
And as you walk with God, you reach your “Adams Fountain”; you enter your promised land and you start moving into your higher calling. People start to see your righteousness and they start to recognise who God made you to be. You get a new name (Isaiah 62:2: And the Gentiles shall see thy righteousness, and all kings thy glory: and thou shalt be called by a new name, which the mouth of the LORD shall name. (Isaiah 62:2, ESV)) and you are a beautiful instrument in God’s hand through which He can reach and touch people.
You shall no more be called “Agtertang” neither will you be called outcast, exile, outsider, recluse or castaway. Your land will no longer be called Desolate. God calls you His Delight, and your land: “Beulah” – married (You shall no more be termed Forsaken, and your land shall no more be termed Desolate, but you shall be called My Delight Is in Her, and your land Married; for the LORD delights in you, and your land shall be married. For as a young man marries a young woman, so shall your sons marry you, and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you. (Isaiah 62:4-5, ESV))
The Lord delights in you and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so He rejoices over you.
The LORD your God is in your midst,
a mighty one who will save;
he will rejoice over you with gladness;
he will quiet you by his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing.
(Zephaniah 3:17, ESV)
Dear Father God. You are the God who sees. Your eyes are on the ways of man and You see our every footstep.
We bow before You right now in worship.
You alone are God, You alone are king;
You are clothed with majesty.
You, oh God, are merciful and gracious,
You are slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
You have enlightened our eyes, to see You better.
You are gracious to those who wait on You,
for the soul who seeks after Your heart.
We yearn to hear Your voice and to follow where You go and to go where You send us. In this world of chaos, unrighteousness, hate and temptations, we want to set our eyes on You. We want to set our hearts on journeying with You. We want to meet You heart to heart.
Father we ask that You will save us now. We pray from where-ever we are – caught up in life’s back alleys and side lines. Lord please be merciful. Please show us how You really see us.
I pray for forgiveness of sins.
Father I bring before You now every person who is branded as an “agtertang”, an outcast, exile, outsider, recluse or castaway …
I pray that You will call them out by name. I pray that You will heal them on all levels. I pray that You will open their eyes and ears, for them to see and hear you. I pray that You will lead them to where they can find rest in You. A place where relationships can be restored.
I pray that You will enlarge their territory. I pray that they will open their hearts to You Holy Spirit, so they can soar with You like eagles with renewed strength.
I pray that they will walk and run and not be tired. I pray that You will lead them into their higher calling in You.
I pray that You will bless them.
We ask this in Jesus’ name.