All for the One

Posted by Sarah Zacharias Davis on October 8, 2018

It was a Thursday evening in Cape Town, day four of Festival of Thought, an outreach of 100 evangelistic events in four cities across South Africa. Tanya Walker, RZIM speaker and Director of the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics (OCCA), had just landed in Cape Town after speaking at a number of university events in Johannesburg over the last few days. Planning to just grab a quick snack before a short night of sleep, she was spotted by Michael Ramsden in the hotel lobby and invited to join some of the team over dinner with a local RZIM South Africa friend. Halfway through dinner, the Cape Town-based friend exclaimed, “You’re Tanya Walker!”

He recounted a story from many years before. As a businessman once struggling in his faith and feeling disillusioned by ministry, he attended the OCCA Business Program in Oxford. He even confessed to not fully disclosing his state of doubt and discouragement when applying to the program, fearful it would prevent him from being accepted. He described the utter transformation in his heart over those five weeks and especially noted how God had used Tanya’s lectures to heal and restore his faith. None of us at the table knew the story. We were deeply moved as he told of what transpired when he returned from the business program as a result of the change God had brought about in his life. He said, “I have a friend whose daughter is very far from God and struggling with many things. I have often thought over the years how I wished she could hear you speak.” Tanya said that she was not scheduled for anything Saturday morning, and she offered to speak to a group of youth if it was possible to pull together at such short notice.

Our paths never crossed the remainder of the week, and with so many ministry events happening, I didn’t see Tanya until many weeks later. Back in the office in Oxford, I caught her on the staircase just before we all met as a staff for a morning prayer time. I asked her whatever happened with that unplanned youth meeting in Cape Town. She told me the businessman had been true to his word, and by Saturday morning an event had been planned for a number of local youth. As Tanya arrived and engaged with many of the young men and women in the room, she detected that it seemed only a room of Christians. But she delivered her planned talk—an evangelist in heart and calling—and trusted God had her there for a purpose. After most of the room emptied and Tanya prepared to leave, a 16-year-old girl approached her. The young girl said her life was spiraling; she was an alcoholic, had been to rehab, but was still deeply struggling and at rock bottom. She and Tanya spoke a long time, and Tanya shared the transformative truth and invitation of Christ. The girl said she wanted to commit to him. But Tanya pushed back: “Are you only taking this step because you’re willing to try anything, or is there a true belief and commitment?” The girl responded that no, her belief was real and, while desperate for God, she also truly believed. They prayed together.

The next day, Tanya spoke to the RZIM friend who had arranged the whole meeting. Excitedly, she exclaimed that a girl had come to know Christ, that there had been a non-Christian in the room who had committed her life at the end. He said, “Tanya, that was the girl I was telling you about at dinner. That whole event was for her.” At those words my eyes flooded with tears. A businessman losing his faith attends an evangelist equipping program; his life is changed. A chance meeting in the lobby, an unplanned dinner, a last-minute speaking event, and a young girl moves from death to life. It was like I was hearing God say those words, “This was all for her… And for him…and for her…and for you.”

How amazing of God to be so personal. There is no end He won’t go to for each one. How kind of Him to give us the smallest glimpse of what He is doing. A ministry started more than 30 years ago with one evangelist and barely a vision for what God would do is now spread across 16 offices worldwide with over 80 speakers. Perhaps it is all for the one that heaven rejoices over. The one who becomes many, ultimately for the glory of God.

Since those meetings in South Africa, a new church has been planted near one of the universities to serve the growth of new believers and those wanting to know more. Three Alpha courses were started at just one of the campuses, and our South Africa team is in constant communication with the campus ministries there to continue to support them. Thank you for standing with us, for making it possible to send 18 of our speaking team to South Africa for eight days across four cities, for lives to be transformed, for God to do beyond what we even ask or imagine.

 

This article appears in the Fall 2018 Newsmagazine. To receive the newsmagazine by mail, sign up here.