“My Peace I Give You!”

Written by Mike Verkaik, Oceans Outreach Director.

Welcome to my view this morning as I sit in the front room at Oceans Retreat Center and look out upon 16 Recreational Road in Fish Hoek, South Africa. Dawn and I have been blessed to call this our residence for the past two weeks.

While we have been dwelling at Oceans Retreat Center (ORC) the world has changed. The South African borders have closed, our flight home has been rescheduled and the fear of yet a new strain of Covid-19 floods the airwaves. During the same span of time, we have viewed the tears and empty eyes of the homeless, the grieving of a non-believing widow longing for hope, demonic strongholds, and children trapped in the midst of hatred and gang warfare.

That list might seem dauntingly hopeless, however, the word we have heard most frequently and the emotion we have felt most consistently is “peace.” Peace, one of the most precious gifts given from our Father through Jesus Christ. Listen to Jesus’ comforting words as He begins to reveal His earthly departure to His followers:

Sitting here, I watch Fish Hoek wake up just outside the window. I see the door of the orange car in the parking lot across the street open up. Soon *Peter and Susan, a homeless couple, might show up to reclaim their belongings and make their way to the bench on the street. I’ve had several conversations with them during our stay and learned bits and pieces of their life story. We have granted Susan’s request for a Bible, and given Peter a copy of “Stepping into the Lord’s Prayer.” Peter and Susan are one of the many in this community that are sensing our Father’s peace pass through the gates of ORC.

As I ponder the incredible ministry opportunities within Fish Hoek and the surrounding community, the Holy Spirit placed the words of the song Draw Me Close to You by Michael W. Smith on my heart. Sing with me:

“You are my desire, No one else will do. Cause nothing else can take Your place To feel the warmth of Your embrace.
Help me find a way, bring me back to You You’re all I want, Your all I’ve ever needed Help me find a way, bring me back to You.”

Living into that desire is the foundational message for what is done here, and what is prayed for on behalf of the community in this very room. Prayers that the community of people outside of these fences will see and feel His peace through us, as we chose to not let your hearts be troubled and to not be afraid.

“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” – John 14: 27

 May we live into the challenge from last week’s blog, to give thanks in every situation.

“Rejoice always, pray continually, and and give thanks in every situation” – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18.

As Dawn and I came to dwell here two weeks ago, peace awaited us, His peace was proclaimed to us, and prayed over us. What an amazing gift given from our Father. Through the prayers, conversations and fellowship, Christ’s bright light of peace shines into even the darkest places in our community.

Are we ready to receive this gift of peace? Are we willing to surrender and trust in the Father in the midst of life’s storms? Are we ready to live in such a way that people in our circle of influence sense His peace in our lives and seek Jesus because of how we live?

It has been a blessing to experience and to see others receiving His peace on 16 Recreation Road. How is the peace within our homes and communities? I wonder if the people in our circle of influence are experiencing Jesus’ words “Peace be with you?”

*Names have been changed.

So What’s the Solution? 3 Verses!

Over the last several months I have had many conversations with those who are weary of the continuing cultural hemorrhaging and discord impacting families, businesses and one’s spiritual life in tangible ways.

Many believers all over the world can relate to the spiritual battle that seems to intensify on a daily basis. Here in South Africa lock down restrictions tighten up once again in an already tanking economy. Desperation, discouragement, and depression rise to the surface to take its toll within communities impacting daily life and one’s faith. What IS the solution? Where IS the hope?

On Sunday morning I was journeying through 1 Thessalonians and came across the often memorized text of verse 5:16-18:

“Always be joyful. Keep on praying. No matter what happens, always be thankful, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” (NLT)

I picked up my journal and thought these words are the solution to overcome the darkest spiritual clouds. Yes, Paul knew we would face personal and spiritual battles. The Apostle Paul writes these words to a start up church, in the beginning stages of being discipled by Paul . These were difficult days for the apostles who was eventually forced out of Thessalonica by the authorities because of His teachings about Jesus. Yet, in 3 verses Paul gives the believers what is necessary not only to survive the cultural battles of paganism, a religious spirt opposing grace, and the strong arm of the Roman Caesar, but to thrive and flood the city with the Kingdom of Jesus.

Here is an excerpt of what I wrote in my journal on January 17:

“Always be joyful?” Why? Because Christ, the true King is living in me right now and I am a citizen of heaven. I can’t lose since King Jesus is coming again to make all wrongs right!

“Keep on praying?” Why?  Prayer is the gateway into the Heavenly realm and brings the power of Heaven to earth through the Holy Spirit. Since this power lives in me I can overcome any spiritual battles I may encounter. Praying the Words of scriptures brings victory!

“No matter what happens, always be thankful?” Why? God the Father’s heart is linked with those who resonate a posture of  thankfulness.  A thankful spirit indicates an inherent trust and dependency on the Father. Thankfulness demonstrates that I believe He is the Sovereign over everything in life and He will use it for my good and His glory.

Patty and I are blessed to have Oceans Ministries partners Mike & Dawn Verkaik out here in South Africa. Yes, they miraculously made it over the Atlantic Ocean and brought “much needed” supplies of Frosted Flakes and Peach Tea. But what has been even better than the treats has been the sweet fellowship in the Spirit. Together with other fellow believers we have shared meals, spent time in prayer, worship, Bible study, enjoying God’s creation, and ministering to those in the community. Indeed it has been a time of refreshment to the soul.

As a community of believers when we choose to “rejoice always, pray continually, and give thanks in every situation”  we become a powerful force of transformation not only within our families and businesses but also in our culture. And don’t forget it also brings forth spiritual renewal in our own lives.

I challenge you to take action with these 3 verses! Give them a try! Write them down and post them on your mirror! Or find 2 or 3 others to join you in memorizing and practicing these verses.  Make a conscious effort to renew your mind and believe with great hope what your Father can and will do when we exercise this solution.



Last Thursday was an unbelievable day. Yes in the midst of the US election chaos and the ongoing criss of Covid our God is busy storming the gates of hell. Thursday was a gift of heaven’s hope igniting my little faith and giving great anticipation for what’s ahead for Christ’s Kingdom.

The day started out as normal. I had asked a friend Johan to help me navigate buying tires here in South Africa. Johan founded an amazing ministry in a local township for at risk preschoolers and he will be teaming up with Oceans this year. I will share more about this in a future blog.

As we were leaving the tire store Johann asked me to drive to a ministry called the NET that works with homeless. The night before he had emailed and asked if it was ok for a man I will call Ricky to come to the Retreat Center to do some work. Johann had received some money from a friend and both he and his wife felt strongly they should ask Ricky to do the work.

Ricky had been in and out of prison as he was a part of one of the most violent gangs in the area. Several months ago I was asked to speak to a group from the NET and Ricky was there. When I shared about God being a loving Father as seen in the gift of Christ, he quickly blurted out, “Don’t believe it, I’m a Muslim!” Which put a damper on the rest of the talk.

Then on the day Oceans sponsored free coffee at Stag Ricky walked by while I was in the shop. He looked bad and I noticed his arm was bleeding, he was in a dark place. I offered him a coffee and asked if I could pray with him, to my surprise he said, “Please pastor!” My words and prayer seemed so inadequate as he said, “Thanks,” and walked away.

So here we are driving to the NET to see if Ricky may be there. I said to Johann, “I’m not sure we will find him there, but we can give it a shot.” Any guess to who was the first person we saw? (Oh Tim of little faith). As Johann went to tell the director we were there, Ricky ran over to me and the first words out of his mouth were, “Pastor you need to lead me to salvation in Jesus!” Can I say, “Shock!” During my extended pause he went on to say, how that morning he picked up the Bible he got in prison and was reading it. As he was pondering the Word and a devotional he was given the thought came to him, “I need to find someone to lead me to Christ today and start a new life!” I proceeded to tell him how this is a Divine set up, only God could have put this all together, he smiled and replied, “Yes pastor!”

Johann joined us and together we shared about the way of salvation and the journey of following Jesus. So since our beaches are closed due to Covid we got a pitcher of water and surrounded by some of his friends he confessed Jesus as His Lord and Savior and was baptized. As we welcomed him into the family of God, the tears flowed and joyful hugs followed, yes unbelievable!!!

I know these are crazy days, but I hope this story encourages you. Every time I think about it I shake my head in awe of the Sovereign ways of God. He is moving and in the business of doing the unbelievable.   Jesus declared that He would have victory over the darkest strong holds of the enemy and nothing can stop His Sovereign take over of the world.

“I will build my church and the gates of hell will not stand against it,” Mt. 16:18.

Hang on to His promises and believe the unbelievable!



Trust My Hand!

Some times you just need to hear some mighty miracle stories. We were sharing some these on Tuesday at our weekly prayer time when Andre’ and Nicole, a couple who reside at Oceans Retreat Center, shared an amazing story.

A few friends from church had invited Andre’ and Nicole to run or walk down a  nearby beautiful coastal road. As the two of them joined the walk group they were taking their time enjoying the breath-taking beauty. That’s when they noticed a woman standing on a cliff below them looking like she was getting ready to jump. They quickly rushed down to get as close as they could to her and asked if she was ok, she wasn’t, in fact she was getting ready to hurl her body off the cliff to the rocks below.

As much as she begged them to leave-they would not-they continued to talk with her, pray, and called a local paramedic service. When the paramedic’s arrived they descended on a rope to the edge of the cliff, grabbed her, and with Andre’s help returned this woman to safety. Andre’ had instinctively grabbed her hand and as he did so, he commented that, “he felt God’s presence and weeped with the lady.”

God’s Sovereign Hand was all over this miracle. Throughout our prayer time I  had a picture in my mind of Andre’s big strong hand holding the hand of this older woman who had lost all hope. What a description of Father God, who holds us and cries with us when things are at our darkest. I opened my Bible to Isaiah 41:13 and read it to the group:

“For I am the LORD, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.”

What a Father! One who will never let His children go. After prayer Andre and I went to get some coffee at Stag’s I wanted to hear more. As I was buying the coffee Andre picked up one of the Bible verses which are available for customers to take and be blessed by as they sip their coffee.  And guess what the Bible verse was? Yep! Isaiah 41:13. What an amazing God!

But the story doesn’t end there. Nicole and Andre’ were able to visit the lady they helped.  Nicole bought some flowers and a card and included the scripture verse with Isaiah 41:13 in it and they headed to her house. When she opened the door she was overjoyed to see them as hope was returning. They listened to her story, prayed with her, and a new friendship was birthed.

In a time when the invisible hand of fear seems to be dragging many into darkness and despair, it is good for us to be reminded of the Father’s Hand that will never let go of His Children, even when hope can seem lost. Jesus, the visible Hand of the Father said:

“My Sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, no one can snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of My Father’s hand…” (John 10:28-29).

As we begin 2021, hear your Father say, “Trust my Hand, I won’t ever let go!”