You all know my heart and my love for God and people, and I always want to help people, especially those close to me. This is another one of those stories but one God has been writing for longer than I ever thought. Not only is it a story but also a testimony of God’s love for us & how powerful prayer is as well as the importance of following where God leads.
I had watched Top Billing with my sister while I was home for the holidays in 2010 and there had been a guy on their presenter search with the name Bernhard. I didn’t pay much attention to the name or what his surname had been, I just remembered his face. December 14, 2010 I sent Bernhard Faasen a message on facebook for the first time after God brought his name up in my prayer time. I’ve never been someone to pray much because I never thought God heard my prayers. God put it on my heart to be someone whom he can talk to and someone who could pray for him. I never thought much of it until I need to give a testimony of what God was doing in my life at Church yesterday. The whole week I’d been stressing about what I would share but that is when God brought the whole story together. Our chats on facebook have never been very long, always to the point – I asked the same questions and he answered. There’s very few times that he ever had prayer requests for me but I prayed for him anyway, whether he and I communicated on facebook or not. The last year has been my toughest. God was so faithful to me but I have been through deep waters. On Friday, it will be precisely a year, one in which I have been through many ups and downs. In it I lost 18 people that part of my life or very close to me, 1 being in a tragic drowning at a camp with my house mates earlier this year, there were 5 people close to me that got cancer, 4 people I know were raped and not only that I struggled with my studies because of everything that had happened and nightmares that caused many sleepless nights. But like I said, God has been extremely faithful and I have grown and learnt so much! In the last few months as most of my house mates know, I have been struggling with extreme and very intense nightmares, to the point that the devil seems to use it as a form of attacking me spiritually, emotionally & physically. In the last month or so, I switched on the TV one afternoon and accidentally stumbled onto a singing competition on KYKNET. As I watched Bernhard’s name flashed past. I thought I was seeing things and quickly went onto facebook to see if there is any sign that he really is part of the competition. I doubted it could be him but he was part of the program. During this time I never once saw or heard him sing, every week that I was able to watch the repetition he was not part of the group that sang. God put it heavily on my heart to pray for him and just ask how it is going and whether he has any prayer requests. Our conversations on facebook became longer but there was still nothing for which he needed prayer. Again, I just prayed. Whenever I prayed for God would teach me new things about Bernhard’s character. The second to last time he appeared on the program I heard him sing for the first time, so now I know too. A day or so before my 21st God had put it on my heart to invite Bernhard to it – but I felt it’s a bit weird and ridiculous and too far to drive and found 100 excuses to not invite him. It was stupid but God found a way of working around it. On Thursday after I had turned 21 God had put it on my heart again to send him a message to see if there were any prayer requests from his side and to see how he was doing. Thursday was a chaotic day and I had to deal with a crisis and forgot all about sending Bernhard the message. Then I left for the weekend to a game farm & was without signal but God pressing on my heart about Bernhard. When I got back on Monday morning sent Bernhard a message and forgot about it when I had finished. Tuesday I decided to take a nap because I had been feeling sick after the weekend. I got stuck in an intense nightmare and couldn’t get myself to wake up from it and there was no one around to wake me up. God whispered Bernhard’s name into the nightmare & I suddenly woke up from the nightmare. I got the feeling I should go onto facebook and I did, where I received a reply from Bernhard on the previous day’s message. This is the message he had replied with:
Hello Michelle .. It was a very good weekend, thank you! Hope you had a great weekend.
You can definitely pray for my father who is in hospital in PTA. He received a bone marrow transplant and the cells are being rejected in his body therefore he has become very sick.
I was so happy to have woken from the nightmare and felt very blessed. I tried to get hold of Bernhard on facebook to hear what hospital his father was in because I felt I should visit Bernhard’s father, but I forgot to ask his father’s name. Jaco said he would visit his mother in the hospital because she would be there Wednesday evening, and if they were at the same hospital we could gp together. As things had to happen, I could not get hold of Bernhard and I didn’t have a number for him. I sent him a message on facebook, I tweeted him and sent an email. During the week the name Johann kept coming up in my prayers or while I was doing other stuff but I didn’t know why. On Wednesday, Jaco said his mom’s procedure had been postponed by a week and he didn’t have to go to the hospital anymore and as I still hadn’t heard from Bernhard I just left it. I just thought, ‘That’s okay, all in God’s time. He knows what he’s doing.’ Thursday evening while Mari went to bath, I cried and prayed about something that happened as I felt discouraged and doubted in myself a little. I also prayed for Bernhard and a few other people I know. At that moment, lights flashed on my blackberry and when I quickly checked my phone. Bernhard’s name came up on BBM (he had added me at that moment for the first time) and he had contacted me about his father. It was not long after when an indescribable peace and joy of God came over me and I no longer felt this heaviness on my heart. Thursday night I went to bed before I had received Bernhard’s last message. I began to dream and the nightmares began all over again, I could not wake up but again God whispered Bernhard’s name and I was immediately pulled out of the nightmare and woken up. I felt scared and was filled with panic but there was a sudden calmness that came over me as I read Bernhard’s last message, in which he mentioned his father’s name was Johann. I just talked to God while I waited to fall asleep again. In that time, God spoke to me about Bernhard’s character and fears and about his father, Johann. I felt God press on my heart to pray for him, to visit him and also to be tested to see if I could be a donor of bone marrow or cells to help his dad. I then sent a message to Chris, a pastor I know, to pray for Bernhard, his father & family as well as for favour, because I know he wakes up at 6am every morning to pray. Friday mornings at 6am, everyone in our commune (or diggs) gets up to pray as well so I requested they pray for what is to happen next too. I also sent an email to the hospital to find out about a few things and asked Elicia whether she would be able to go with me on Friday or Saturday. Friday Elicia seemed to get sick so we didn’t go to hospital as we didn’t want to make anyone there even more sick. I prayed with her over the phone and on Saturday she was better. Saturday while everyone went to Ivory Park, I stayed at home and waited for Elicia and her boyfriend Yvotte and drove to the hospital together. We then talked to the nurse about what could be done but when they said they had nothing to do with the donations made and I had to make contact with THE SUNFLOWER FUND. She also said, patients may receive only two visitors per day between 13.00 and 20.00. Everyone is pretty much isolated in their own rooms, and there is little they get to do. You could only visit in short intervals because patients become tired from the medicine and so on. We had about 30 to 45 minutes time and I was so nice talking with Uncle Johann. Elicia and I were so blessed by the conversation and the whole visit. Uncle Johann had been so excited to call Bernhard and handed me the phone to talk to his son (the first time Bernhard and I had ever talked over a phone) but I just think he wanted to hear from Bernhard about the rugby scores. I was just as happy, because I also missed the game and wanted an update. Elicia, Yvotte and I then had coffee and caught up before they dropped me off at home. When I came home I went on SUNFLOWER FUND’s website and I found out more about the next steps and how I could become a donor to help Bernhard’s father as I believe God has asked.
The chance that I will be a match is 1 in 100 000 but I believe nothing is impossible with God and He has a plan. We serve an Almighty God so the statistics don’t really bother me. Tests must obviously be done before I could donate to see if I could be a possible match. Unfortunately you have to pay R2000 before this can happen. If you don’t have the money they put you on a waiting list and until there is money available for it. It is an amount which I don’t have so I decided to pray for it and share this story with others. Even if I could not be a match for Uncle Johann, which I believe I can be, I might be a match for someone else.
Uncle Johann was diagnosed with Bone Marrow Cancer in 2008, but Wesselsbron where they live there are no facilities available to deal with this like we are privileged to have here in Pretoria. In March 2011 he had a bone marrow transplant and one of his sisters was the donor. His other sister was not a match. Her cells had to grow & take over 100% in his body. If at any time his own cells would grow back he is likely to get very ill and his body could possibly reject the bone marrow. He has been in hospital for 3 weeks now for treatment because he has been severely ill as 3% of his own cells have grown back. So it doesn’t take much for people with this disease to become ill again and the cells become to be rejected. He should go home today or tomorrow but it doesn’t mean he doesn’t need a donation.
I have felt the need to help as God has really put it on my heart. God has been working on the story for a while now and I learn something new every day as God brings it all together and reveals more of the story to me. This Friday it will be exactly a year and 9 months that I have been praying for Bernhard without knowing him. All I know about him is what God has shown me and said through prayer. For the last year and 9 months I could never figure out how God would use someone like me in Bernhard’s life when I had never met him and he never shared any prayer requests or his heart. Now, he has something that really troubles him and is important to him. And finally, I have been given the chance to help. I shared my testimony at church last night. I thought I had spoken in circles and that nobody had heard what I had said as I thought most of them had fallen asleep while I had spoken. I was in tears and very troubled afterwards, doubting in myself but hoping God had done the rest because I felt like a flop. And I am happy to say, I have gotten so many messages from people who want to help financially or any way possible, even if there are any additional costs. This morning I woke up with a message, that someone had deposited that full amount into my account. I also phoned THE SUNFLOWER FUND today, got registered, filled in forms & paid the money for the tests. On Tuesday Anneke & my sister went with me to get the first blood tests done. During the week I have had so many phone calls, messages and visits from people whom wanted to hear how I was doing and how Bernhard’s father as well as Bernhard are doing. There has been so much support and help from people who have wanted to show them love and help out wherever they can. It is a difficult process as getting information takes time and communication is sometimes limited.
This past week, on Wednesday, my house mates and I met Bernhard for the first time as well as his friend Frank. We had tea and showed them our two houses and really got to chat well and overall had a great time getting to know them. Most of the people in our house asked that I invite them to a concert that evening but unfortunately they couldn’t make it as they really would have enjoyed the people and networking a little as well. This morning I also heard back from the hospital and that they are waiting to confirm with Bernhard’s doctor/s what needs to be done next and what he needs and then we can work from there. Erna will keep me updated. So the journey so far has been so blessed, and every moment I can, I go to God in constant prayer, just trying to lift them up. Many friends and family members are also doing the same daily which is so important and I am so grateful for. God is working and doing such amazing things and I truly believe He hears every prayer.
God is so faithful, we just need to rely on Him and act in obedience. I have learnt that, but also that God seems to love a good story and He is busy with each of ours’ daily. We just have to decide whether we a willing to take part in it. He loves a good story and He loves us so much. I can only say I am extremely thankful. Not only that, but that prayer is so extremely powerful, more than words can describe and we can imagine. May God get the glory for it all.
So please remember to lift them up in prayer and that God will have His hand over this bringing healing, restoration and unity. As well as for favour and that things further on will go well.