My name is Jan Wilken from Pretoria, South Africa. The steadfast faithfulness of God has brought me back to His way and the desire for ministry. Now I am studying at the Christian Leaders Institute for credibility in ministry (Learn more about online Bible classes, Click Here).
I was born in the small town of Vryburg in the old northern Cape province, now North West. My parents were members of the Dutch Reformed Church. We faithfully attended Sunday school, which helped me in learning the Bible and some key verses. By the end of my school career, we had to have an interview with the church pastor. He would see if we could pass the catechism and be accepted into church membership. At the end of the interview, the pastor asked me if I would not consider becoming a minister. I was shocked and said I never thought of it and had no desire.
My Faith Journey Begins
We considered ourselves Christian, but it was more a cultural thing. The majority of Afrikaans people grew up this way. My grandparents on my mother’s side were Christians, and they always spoke to us. So I was never against the faith but had no reality in it.
When I was 22, I went through three consecutive traumatic experiences in a short time. These experiences shook my lifeboat. The main one was the sudden death of my father at age 48 from a heart attack. I sought counseling from a university lecturer who tested my faith standing and led me to the Lord. The Lord opened my spiritual eyes. I was in a new world and taken up in the student movement at the campus. This work brought a strong emphasis on discipleship. At the end of that year, I left my studies and went for a year to Bible college for some credibility in ministry.
Called to Ministry
For me being a Christian and seeking God’s kingdom by testifying and ministry was a package deal. If you are a Christian, you are called. So when a call came a few years later to help friends from the Bible school days in ministry, I accepted. Almost at the same time, I married a girl I met at Bible college and started a children’s ministry. After the local school closed, we went on to Dorothea Mission, which reached out to African people in Southern Africa.
After three years, the mission asked us to assist the outreach to Mozambique. As members of the local Baptist church, our church was also excited and sent their mission department to survey to understand the nature and extent of where we were going.
It was a small town on the Save river called Masengena. An Evangelist from the mission who served in that area guided us. It was 1993, not long after the war, so conditions were not good. Bad infrastructure and difficult roads led the church commission to decline our prospect. They did not have peace that with three small children aged five, three, and one, we would be cared for in such a remote setting. They asked us to consider another place or people group. We were not prepared for that, so I started to seek work to sustain my family. We felt that the door was closed to us.
Therefore, with much difficulty, I started work in the secular world. With prayers answered, I bought a friend’s business in 2005. God blessed us, but I did not maintain my walk with God. In 2008, the economic depression made it difficult to survive, and I went into debt to carry on. By 2014, I sold the business but was not able to cancel the outstanding debt. Home with no income brought a lot of stress. Therefore, in 2015, my wife asked for a divorce. Now my lifeboat was not even in the water, so to say, but stranded on the desert side.
Restored and Now Studying at CLI for Credibility in Ministry
By complete grace and guidance, I was able to make it from day to day. I learned to pray anew and trusted that God still had something for me to do in life. It was also a time of stock-taking to see how I ended up in this situation. To be able to go forward, one has to correct mistakes, of which, I had many.
Over the past five years, God has been training and restoring me with a desire to become active in ministry again. He has brought the Christian Leaders Institute in my path. At CLI, I saw a way to reach my desire and have credibility in ministry. My banner is that God is faithful! He who started the good work in us will also complete it!