JOURNEY TO JERUSALEM
A tale by Johny Noer
THE ELECTION PLANS
"I the Lord have called thee in righteousness, and I will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light to the Gentiles to open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house (Is.42:6-8).
Popular history of Europe says that the Roman Eagle in the year 50 after Christ was dominating all Gallic territory; only a small village in the uttermost part of the Galician peninsula ‘Brittany’ was still keeping Caesar’s legions busy! A village, so small – says popular history – that it can only be found with a huge magnifying glass; it is from this tiny village however that Gallic heroes (whose names are today known by every child) defended their independence against Rome.
Gisèle is from that Breton village with twenty small houses and it is called Quéré, situated between St.Brieuc and Binic, near the little town of Pordic in Brittany, France. The waves from the ever changing tide of the Atlantic Ocean are beating against the rocks of the beautiful hillside, where she was born.
How could I know when I was at high school, sweating through my teacher, Mr.Work’s Latin-lessons on ‘Caesar’s Gallic wars’ that one day I should be married to a beautiful girl from the Breton village, which never surrendered, and how could I know that my meeting with this little energetic person with the ‘Gallic nature’ was part of God’s predestined election plans with my own life..? About this I have the following to tell:
Some years before I walked for hours the cold marble floor on a hot night in a flat at the south-coast of France. It was a large residential area in Nice; all the neighbours had their windows open and from everywhere I could hear children laughing or crying, endless gun-fire from television films, mothers shouting on the top of their voices and men discussing in the street.
I was praying.
I had just received words from a local medical clinic that the mother of my four eldest children had a limited time to live; now I wanted this sad news to be changed. Deep within however I had the feeling that nothing was going to be altered, and I knew very well the reasons why. Things, which are beyond communications of men, had already convinced me, that I had reached the end of a road, and that this was a last milestone, which had to be passed.
But I prayed nevertheless. My voice mingled with the laughing and shouting from the streets, and my cry to God went along with the screaming and the banging form the tens of scores of television sets.
At midnight everything grew silent. People went to bed, and the children of the noisy neighbourhood had gone to sleep. The last program had passed over the busy television screen, and I was only whispering my prayers. Then suddenly I became silent too: There was somebody in the room! In awesome fear I bowed to the floor. I was sure that the holy presence of the Almighty God was standing before me. I didn’t move and I didn’t speak. I experienced exactly what is described in one of the books of the Bible, "I trembled and shook with terror, as a spirit passed before my face – my hair stood up on end. I felt the spirit’s presence, but I couldn’t see it standing there. Then out of the dreadful silence came this voice: (Job 4:15-16) "What do you want me to do for you?"
For two hours I didn’t answer… I knew that I could ask whatever I wanted, and I was so sure of being heard that I did not dare to utter any wish before the Lord. I didn’t even dare to ask for a change of the verdict from the medical clinic in Nice. I was afraid of taking this situation in my own hand, because I was aware of serious consequences which only I knew about.
That’s why after two hours I gave the only answer possible. With beating heart I stood on my feet, and said, "I ask You, Lord, that your election plans with my life may be accomplished!"
Shortly after the doctor’s sentence became brutal reality, and when the time of sorrow had passed, a new order was introduced in my house: A young woman from one of the Gallic villages, which never surrendered to Caesar, was called by God to go to Denmark; a year later my life was filled with new light and beauty; it was springtime and May: and I got married with Gisèle…
I have always found, there was something special about that part of France called ‘Bretagne’. Not only is it the most beautiful corner of French territory; (it is considered almost an offence to call that ‘independent’ Breton part of the country ‘France’), but there is something of God’s eternal choice over the small places in that untouched section of the world.
Some years ago we went with part of the group to the small village of Quéré; where Gisèle was born. Not that we had any special mission to carry out; we just felt that God wanted us to go there!
With a small convoy of a few land rovers and some lighter caravans, a dozen of us set off from the camp in Germany and went towards Brittany. I may seem strange to other people (and not at all profitable in our materialistic and ‘reasonable’ word), but we had the idea, that we should go to that place and pray. It is part of our whole vision that God is going to do great things in different parts of the world (Jerusalem, the land of the north etc.) – and that God is solidly preparing a way by some who simply go to these places and pray.
It was not an easy trip.
On the busy motorway in Holland one of the caravans suddenly jumped off the towing car. The experts who searched for the reason to this peculiar accident afterwards, never found one. The coupling was still in its guarantee period, and it was never possible to make the caravan come off a second time. Personally I have my thoughts about this event. Over the years I have learned that every time we were about to make some move as a group, according to God’s wonderful salvation plans, a satanic intelligence worked against us.
I have my reasons to believe that this was the case, when we were moving towards that small chosen place in Brittany in France.
I was driving with my seven small children in the land rover just behind the caravan which ‘hooked off’. I never saw the accident, because a heavy shower of rain suddenly and unexpectantly came over my car. When I inquired afterwards no other person in the convoy had experienced this ‘precise and strategic’ rain, and everybody was astonished, when I told them about the shower, which was so violent that my windscreen-wiper was knocked under my front glass, and I was forced to move prudently unto the side of the dense traffic on the auto-route. It was all a matter of seconds: I stretched my hand out of the open car window and placed the wiper in its right position – and in that very moment (where by God’s saving rain we were brought into the roadside) a huge lorry thundered past us and got space enough to escape the driverless caravan in front of us. The enormous traffic stopped, and some experienced Dutch policemen stood in respectful distance, when they saw how members of our convoy and other people embraced each other in the middle of the highway in spontaneous thankfulness and praise to God, that not one drop of blood had been shed. A few cars had bumped into each other, but nothing serious had happened, and all vehicles could leave that place without being towed away. A few days later we read in newspapers of a similar accident far away from us on an auto route in Germany. At this accident however, which frightingly resembled ours, great casualties were involved: 16 big lorries crushed into each other, 54 cars were smashed (and many burned out) and a great number of people killed or wounded.
I am convinced that evil powers from the pit had planned the same catastrophe against us on the motorway in Holland – but that God in His sovereign grace protected us on this journey to a divinely chosen place in Brittany,France.
I was tired that night when we arrived. The field was muddy, and the wind and rain from the Atlantic Ocean were freezing. Some of the pilgrims had a quick terrified look down the deep cliff from the brink, where our camp was situated – and then all went to bed.
I couldn’t fall asleep.
"What are we doing here?" I asked myself. "Isn’t that just a mad idea to bring all these dear people into this muddy and rainy place? What’s going to happen here? Nobody knows that we have arrived at this desert place. I am wondering if God ‘knows’ about it. How could I expect Him to bless this adventure, if it is caused by my own silly imaginations…
I fell in a troubled sleep. Then however I had a dream.
I dreamed that our Belgian brother Raf, who had arrived with his family the night before, stood outside knocking at my caravan door. When I opened the to-leaved door, he gave me one of his big warm smiles full of confidence and trust in the Lord.
Raf was earlier known, respected and feared by bridge-players in Belgium and other countries; they knew that the game was as good as lost, if he sat at the opposite side of the table. He met the Pilgrims and surrendered his life radically to the Lord, when the convoy passed Brügge. He gave up the bridge playing and has since then in different ways been connected to the Pilgrim ministry.
In my dream, Raf gave me a message. "Two men have just visited the camp", he said, "they were tall and dressed in white, their hair was shining, and they were certainly not from this earth. They saluted as if they were some sort of soldiers, reporting to their captain.
"What did they say?" I asked.
"They said, ‘Everything is under control’!"
"Did they really say that?"
"Yes." Raf smiled back. "They said, ‘Everything is under control’!"
A wonderful peace flooded my heart; I knew the message was correct and of the Lord, and I fell in a peaceful sleep.
Next morning the group gathered together for prayer, and I told them my dream. "It’s interesting", said a brother from England, "but I have on my heart to share with you some Bible verses on the theme that every time these two men appear, God is advertising that something great and new is about to take place. The first passage is from one of the last chapters of the gospel of John, where Mary was standing crying outside the tomb of Jesus. Suddenly she stopped and looked up and ‘saw two white robed angels sitting at the head and foot where the body of Jesus had been laying. "Why are you crying?" the angel asked her. "Because they have taken away my Lord", she replied, "and I don’t know where they have put him." She looked over her shoulder and saw someone standing behind her. It was Jesus!" (20:11-14).
"If you turn the page in your Bibles", our brother from England continued, "You are moving into the Acts of the Apostles, and in the very first chapter, we meet these two white-robed men again. The gospel-writer tells us about the event, when Jesus rose into the sky and disappeared into a cloud leaving His disciples staring after him. As they were still straining their eyes for another glimpse ‘suddenly two white-robed men were standing there among them’. They said, "Men of Galilee, whey are you standing here staring at the sky? Jesus has gone away to heaven, and some day, just as he went, he will return" (1:9-11).
While our English brother explained from these passages of Scripture how ‘two men in white indicating new and great things in the dispensations of God, Gisèle listened with a thoughtful expression on her face.
When he had finished his little bible-study, she said, "These two men in white have been walking in my village all my childhood."
With surprise we all listened to her story of how two men dressed in white and both with shining hair had been seen over the years by several people in the village.
"One day, one of them was sitting outside our house", she said. "He disappeared, when he was approached. Both my mother and some of my sisters have seen them. I remember how they talked about them, when I was a child."
Listening to this story I again thought of God’s election plans. I am convinced that there is something special about this village of Brittany, unknown to the world; and I am sure that the Lord God has had his eyes upon a small house, where that little girl grew up, who was later to be my wife, and who was to take part in that ministry, which has been entrusted to us.
Gisèle gave her life to Jesus during a gospel campaign, which I conducted in Paris. Some time after she worked in an elderly people’s home in Denmark, and one night, while she was in prayer, God showed her something of her future. She saw a travelling group of people. They went from one nation to another, they lived in faith and a wonderful love kept them together and radiated out from the midst of them.
For seven years she tried to find that group. Once she stayed for three years in a community in France while she thought that this might be the place – but there was one thing lacking: the group was not a travelling group. Now, however, such a travelling group exists, and she is part of it – and we both know that God still has a great work to do amongst these dear people concerning the ‘love which is uniting them and beaming out from their midst’…
As years have passed, and together with this small community, we have passed through some deep valleys, we have slowly learned to understand, that love is never ‘lightning’ flashing down from heaven: It is normal people, who together have experienced some sufferings in their own common ‘story’, who end up by having love for each other.
For a long time I didn’t clearly see the way, which was leading to this beautiful gateway; I even thought that I could reach out for that eternal fruit with defiled hands. Only a rather long process of events did teach me that love is divinely connected with HOLINESS OF LIFE and that is one of the reasons why Gisèle and I from the beginning of our marriage – in a holy fear of God – decided to accept all the children, which the Lord in His grace would give us…