Challenged to Pray!

When the Holy Spirit moves the Father’s children make prayer a priority. I asked Ray & Dianne Vander Molen to share their thoughts on prayer encounters in South Africa.

Recently my wife Dianne and I were privileged to join four high school students from Zeeland, Michigan at a Kingdom Encounter at Oceans Retreat Center located in Fish Hoek, South Africa. During our time we had many opportunities for ministry and immersion into the culture including interacting with preschoolers from Oceanview Care Center in a nearby township.

We were certainly challenged by our visit and wanted to take a few moments to reflect upon an aspect that was an inspiration: the Prayer Meetings. One prayer time we attended was held at a local church; we soon discovered that this prayer hour was not like the “typical prayer time” we had attended where much prayer was directed towards those in need of healing from sickness or recovery from surgeries etc.

The Monday Night Prayer Meeting, held in the worship center, had white plastic chairs arranged around the edges in a large circle. We were amazed to see over 60 people in attendance!

Led by Pastor Ryan, our time began with worship through songs projected on a large screen. All were encouraged to join in singing or prayerfully reflect upon the words. This time brought us to an expectation of the Spirit’s presence and we truly felt as if we were meeting God in this place.

Following the singing a theme was introduced – for example one evening it was “Breaking Chains.” This was an invitation for all of us to pray into what chains might be binding us such as: control, drugs, alcohol, lack of faith, fear of the unknown or a myriad of other issues. People were invited to step into the center of the room for more prayer and were then prayed over by others.

One meeting a few people shared a passage of scripture they felt led to read or one time a person saw a vision of a glass heart that was shattered and a surgeon putting it back together as a heart of flesh.

Another prayer night we divided into groups of 6 to 8 for prayer. At one point a person was chosen at random and we all prayed for that individual. For many the meeting was a time of reflection, meditation or silent or audible prayer. We definitely felt the presence of the Lord and decided if we lived in Fish Hoek we would want to regularly be a part of this lively Spirit led prayer service.

During our stay my wife Dianne and I not only joined the Monday nights Prayer Meetings but also the 9 am Tuesday mornings Prayer Times which the Oceans Team started in 2020 when the lockdown began. These were intimate times were 10-15 of us gathered and the students had opportunity to pray if they desired. In this smaller group we were able to pray over Aimee, Eli, Evan and Natalie for their safe return and as they finished out their senior year in the states.

Both these times caused me to reflect on the many answered prayers I have experienced over the 80 years in my life. I was challenged to pray not only for others and their needs, but also for more of the presence of God, for His Spirit to guide and direct, and for revival-the only answer for poverty, the pandemic, politics, hopelessness, depression and I could go on.

I conclude with this powerful quote, perhaps you’ve read it before:



A Lesson from a Big Baboon

Have you every been fearful to the point where your legs turn rubbery? Where the fight or flight reflex and the adrenaline rush is more intense than 8 shots of espresso?

It all started out wonderfully as we were excited to spend a few days away from the retreat center.  It was peaceful and cozy bed and breakfast backing up to a mountain with stunning views. Patty’s dad and new wife Dianne accompanied a high school team from Michigan and stayed a bit longer to help out and then blessed us with a few days of rest at this idyllic place.

As Patty unpacked I settled into a comfy chair enjoying some shalom when we both were jolted by a blow horn and screams. We ran onto the porch as a lady was yelling to the neighbors “I got the gun!” We first thought maybe it was a break in but then we heard, “baboon!”  Another man ran out of his house and started throwing rocks at the large male baboon who quickly darted our way jumping over the fence into the side yard.  I told Patty to shut all the doors and windows as I ventured down the stairs to check if the door to the kitchen was shut, apparently is was not as crashing and crunching sounds emerged.

My heart started racing as I realized the baboon was in the house and not a staff person was present. I quickly found a fire poker as my weapon and regretfully descended the steps. As I turned the corner the yellow tooth baboon was up on the table devouring a basketful of raw eggs. I wielded my poker like a sword hoping that might scare the creature away but as the yoke splashed out of his mouth with each bite I could tell he wasn’t impressed. As his eyes locked with mine a chill went up my spine as I picked up a chair to shield off a charge and I started to yell.  I had no idea what I was yelling until Patty told me later it was, “Help, help a baboon’s in the kitchen!”

Maybe he was full or maybe it was my high pitched screaming that scared the hairy creature off the counter and scampering out the door. Just then Patty’s dad and the staff came in hearing all the commotion. When the staff saw the poker in my hand they smiled at me said something in their own language and started to laugh. I can only imagine what was reported back to their family and friends that night.

The next morning I was reading in my devotions from Isaiah 8:11-14:

“The LORD has said to me in the strongest terms: ‘Do not think like everyone else does. Do not be afraid that some plan conceived behind closed doors will be the end of you. Do not fear anything except the LORD Almighty. He alone is the Holy One. If you fear Him, you need fear nothing else. He will keep you safe…”

As I meditated on this powerful text I thought about my baboon experience. How my legs got weak and as a last resort I cried out for help in fear. I sensed the LORD say to me, “that’s one of the best prayers you can pray Tim. When you are overwhelmed by the fears of the world, yell or scream out to Me for help-and I will be there. I’m bigger than the biggest spiritual baboons you face and because of the cross nothing can overcome My love for you. Don’t try to fight on your own, cry out to Me for help!”

Do you have a “spiritual baboon” causing you fear? It is okay to yell or scream “help” to the only One you are to fear, the only One big enough to overcome the spiritual battle you are facing right now. He make a promise to be with you, to overcome your fear and keep you safe in His arms of love.


The Gardner


Spring is my favorite time of the year. Yet, here in the Southern Hemisphere a crisp change can be felt in the air alerting us that fall is here and soon the chill of winter. But for my friends in the North flowers are breaking forth and sweet smells of new life give hope of summer warmth. The Father had a glorious plan when He chose Spring to be the season of resurrection.

The story of Mary Magdalene encountering Jesus on resurrection morning paints a powerful picture of the transforming gift of glory given to us as Abba’s children. Mary, who was once held in bondage to 7 demons, was the one chosen to be the first among Jesus’ followers to celebrate Resurrection Day.

Reading through the resurrection account in John 20 I was struck by how Mary thought Jesus was the “gardener” who somehow took Jesus’ body away (vs. 15). And in a sense she was right. He is the ultimate Gardner who is restoring His children back to the perfect garden. Before the fall of Adam and Eve there was an ideal garden where relationships were whole and love flowed freely from the heart of the Father.

Sin rolled a cold hard stone over our hearts and brought in a spiritual winter and a satanic reign. Mary’s life demonstrates that the stronghold of satan can be  shattered. Jesus drove out the demons that dominated Mary and instead filled her heart with heaven’s freeing love. Yet, all that seemed lost as she wept at an empty tomb. Mary of Magdalene would soon see the work of the cross; the heavy stone rolled away, and harden hearts separated by sin would be no more.

Both the angels and Jesus said “Dear woman why are you crying?” ( vs. 15). What a statement for us all to hear. Even though battles rage and it seems dark at times, the door has been opened to a renewed and restored garden in the heavenly realm. The Resurrection means the curse of sin in the first garden has been reversed. And when the Spirit of the Father raised Jesus from the dead all who believe have this resurrection power of the Gardner recreating new things in them for all eternity (Ephesians 1:20).

This past Sunday we sang a song that has a line in it, “You turn graves into gardens…”  That is what happened on Resurrection Sunday, the eternal Gardner was raised from the dead and takes us out of the grave with Him and plants a new garden within our souls. I’m writing this blog at a coffee shop and over hearing a conversation of a group next to me filled with fear and could be summed up by one of the men who said, “it’s all going to hell!” I’m sure many have the same thoughts. But for us who believe the Gardner has been raised from the dead and He is making all things new planting heaven in our hearts, we have hope!

Mary wept as it seemed all was lost, but even though she couldn’t see Him yet, the Gardner turned the darkness of the grave into a spectacular garden. Right now it may seem that all is lost or perhaps very dark in your life. Be reminded by this story the Gardner is the Resurrected Christ, you may not recognize what He is doing at the moment but remember He is turning graves into gardens!


What’s the Solution?

Where have you seen the Kingdom today? Every night we have family time with our high school group from Zeeland, Michigan and we ask that question. These four have been thrown into all sorts of experiences out here in South Africa from service in a local township, to a 7 hour Easter worship event, to an epic hike up Table Mountain battling gale force winds and getting completely drenched. They have been an amazing group and their answers concerning the movement of God’s Kingdom have been exceptional.

One of the Students Eli Geurink shared a poem he wrote as he reflected on his day working at Ocean View Care Centre in a near by township:

What’s the solution?

What is the plan?

How do undo pollution?

How to remake man?

Drugs to cure the suffering

Alcohol for the pain

The people are left buffering

Most have gone insane

Knowledge is half the answer

We must learn about the past

Ignorance is like a cancer

If not treated it grows fast

The other is forgiveness

Though many hearts are scarred

We cannot cling to bitterness

Instead to absolution despite it being hard


Eli’s poem highlights the only solution to pandemic of problems that face not only South Africa, but the US and many other nations as well, Forgiveness! One of the enemies greatest ways to destroy nations, communities, families and individuals is bitter roots uncut that lead to deep seated anger, jealousy, divisions, and demonic hate.

Only forgiveness can cut the bitter root and restore true healing and shalom. Praise God for the reminder this past weekend of the mighty work of Forgiveness that took place on the cross through Christ’s death and was made complete when He was raised from the dead. All who have experienced that forgiveness through trusting in the cross and resurrection have been given the supernatural gift to forgive others and bring forgiveness to a broken world.

If Christ is in you, you are the solution that our world desperately needs. It won’t be the government, no amount of money will cure the problems nor the best education or training. It will only be through a mighty move of the Spirit of the resurrected King Jesus. He is the one who fills wounded hearts with His red blood of forgiveness and transforming them to forgive those around them. In doing so, His Kingdom will break forth and rivers of healing will flood the nations.

“And forgive us our sins, just as we have forgiven those who have sinned against us,”  Matthew 6:12.