1 – MY STORY BEGINS
Everything I have ever come to know as far as my walk with the LORD is concerned, I have learned from Him.
Whatever I have read in a book or have heard in the ministry of His Word, has never stayed there, but that which really touched me, I have actively pursued, saying, “LORD I want to be just like that, make me and mold me to become what I have heard!”
I have learned early in my walk with the LORD that it was the things He would teach me in real life experience and the things I would yield to that would be sown into my heart to become a living part of my life, that mattered most, rather than things sown into my head.
From this principle an organic life of growth began in the Holy Spirit, a life where He led and I followed, where He taught and I surrendered to become everything He wanted to form in me and mould me into.
This process has never ended, today, after 28 years of following Him, as I write this, He is still at work in my life on an moment by moment basis – constructing, molding, informing, directing, instructing and most wonderful above all – Revealing of Himself in me!
I am so grateful for this – there is simply nothing that can ever match a personal walk in Revelation of His Presence in our lives, and the wonderful thing is that there is only one single thing that qualifies us for such an experience – a yielded heart and a surrendered will that is willing to follow Him wherever He leads, receiving whatever He wants to teach, and being willing to be molded into whatever He chooses to create in us.
There is absolutely no other qualification that matters, or that could otherwise help to achieve such a walk with the Father – money does not matter, status has no significance, education obtained from human wisdom and perspective is meaningless, position is useless – surrender and a yielded obedient heart is all that God requires and accepts!
This opens the door to every single person alive on this planet!
Rich, poor, educated or uneducated, known or unknown, of status or of no reputation – each comes the same way in the process, on bended knee with a bended heart.
Since this is so true, I have felt the Holy Spirit nudge me to begin this book by telling you exactly how everything began for me, because He said, “I want you to tell them that if they will yield themselves to Me, I will do in them what I did in you.
Tell them that the sick will be healed, the oppressed will be set free, tell them that every hungry heart will be satisfied, and tell them that I will saturate each one with My Presence.”
So allow me to tell you the story …
“Go therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” Matthew 28:19.
On a winters evening in 1990, while spending some time in fellowship with the LORD, I heard the Holy Spirit whisper Matthew 28:19 into my heart.
He spoke it directly to me, as if He was not speaking to His disciples back yonder, but to me, right here and right now!
I had just fully dedicated my life to the LORD and was growing into a deeper relationship in His Presence, so this shocked me, but in a good way!
I said, “LORD are you talking to me? Are you calling me? Do You want me to go and preach Your word?
The prospect seemed wonderful, but so far fetched that I could not believe that the LORD would want someone as simple as me to be honored with an opportunity so great, that was so marvelously wonderful as to be sent as a messenger of His Kingdom.
The LORD confirmed His call to me and I submitted to give myself and my life to Him fully, to learn and to serve Him with all that I am.
A year later in 1991, after many nights in prayer, countless hours spent in His Word, and preaching to my couches in the lounge and trees in the backyard, on many an occasion, the LORD opened up a door for me in the Southern Cape of South Africa, and my wife and myself and our daughter, then around two years old, arrived in George.
Those were humble beginnings for us, we arrived with no more than our suitcases, and stayed in a garage that had been converted into a flat, with raw cement floors, a two plate stove and a bar fridge – but they were wonderful days!
The Presence of God was all over us and all over our dwelling, and that made it a Royal Palace, fit for a King, that was not to be traded for the most elaborate palace!
We worshiped, praised, lived and walked in His Presence!
The LORD connected me with a wonderful man of God who recognized God’s calling upon me, before I really even did!
He took me around in his car and introduced me to pastors all over the Cape province, we traveled far and wide to meet them.
Then after some time, I received my first invitation to come and preach my first one week “revival meetings” in the small town of Coldstream, situated in the midst of the Tsitsikamma forests of the Eastern Cape.
What would happen at these meetings I could have never expected or ever imagined!
I arrived midday on the day I was supposed to begin ministry in the evening service, and locked myself in my room where I was staying as a guest, to spend the afternoon in prayer for the evening meeting.
I went to sit on my bed and just began talking to the Holy Spirit. You see, a few days earlier a wonderful woman of God, lovingly known as “Mamma Charlotte,” had been visiting us in George for some meetings she came to have there, and she had taught me something so real about the Holy Spirit that just fell straight into my spirit.
To this day I am eternally grateful to Charlotte Cronk for the relationship I could share with her, for her time and love shared in investing in my life in those early years, and for being so sensitive to the LORD in leading me and speaking into my life.
That afternoon as I sat on my bed and began speaking to the Holy Spirit, something amazing happened.
Suddenly the air in that room seemed to become thick and every particle seemed to be filled with LIFE and POWER!
It became so heavy that I was afraid to breathe.
Then the LORD Himself walked into that room.
I spent the remaining hours of that afternoon “frozen” in worship in His Presence.
It was to be the beginning of an experience that would shape my entire life, ministry and walk with the LORD from that day forward.
Later that evening the pastor came to fetch me for the first evening meeting, as we walked out the door to his car, I saw the LORD walking with us.
As we drove to the meeting, I was more aware of the Person of God being present in that car than the pastor who was driving it.
When we arrived at the place where I was to minister, I saw the LORD enter that place before me.
That evening I ministered on the Power of the Blood of Jesus, as the Holy Spirit poured the Word into my heart.
Upon finishing up and getting ready to close the meeting, a woman raised her hand from the back. I gave her the opportunity to speak, and what she said knocked the wind straight out of my sails.
She said, “While you were preaching I felt the LORD healing me. I am healed and all pain has left my body”.
As soon as she had finished, another hand went up, and then another and another, all with the same testimony!
I thought it was wonderful, I did not know much about preaching, and less about praying for anyone to be healed – these were my first real meetings!
The next day I spent out in the forests speaking with my New Friend, the Holy Spirit!
Well, to be honest, I could not speak, He was so Real and Powerfully present that all I could do was sit or by times stand in silent adoration with my hands raised, just basking in the Wonder of His Presence, being saturated with a Love I never knew existed or could be known in such a wonderful and real way.
That evening, which marked the second day of or meetings there, another surprise was going to await me.
When I arrived that evening I was shocked to find the venue packed with sick people who came from far and wide, ready to receive their healing!
Without my knowing, word had spread throughout the entire surrounding area that God was healing people in the meetings, and as a result, every sick, hungry and needy person in the area wanted to be at the next meeting.
Here was the problem – I had never prayed for the sick in meetings like this before! I DID NOT KNOW HOW TO EITHER!
Fortunately, I had met a New Friend, Who was (and still is) a Master Specialist in the healing of the sick!
I ministered a short Word on the reality of the Holy Spirit, and then opened the meeting to pray for those that came.
As they lined up for prayer, I decided that I would do no differently than what I had been doing all day long in the forest – I would just talk to my Friend the Holy Spirit!
As I stood in front of those sick people and laid my hands on them, I turned my face to wherever I knew the LORD was and I simply began speaking to Him, I said, “Precious, precious Holy Spirit …” and before I could say anymore the person I had been praying for would simply collapse to the floor!
This happened with each one I prayed for as I went down the line.
Now back then we had no “catchers”, because we did not know that anyone was going to fall!
There was no influence from Christian television (in those years TBN just came on the scene in South Africa and had something like a 1/2 hour of broadcasting time a day).
The people I was ministering to were rural, few of them even owned a television back then.
I myself was also completely taken by surprise as to what was happening. The Wonder of this was that all was done in purity and authenticity, which made it beautiful to behold and wonderful to experience!
As I kept going down the line, leaving a row of bodies on the floor, some of those on the floor began to regain consciousness.
One lady in a total state of confusion asked, “What? What am I doing on the floor? I can’t be laying on the floor! I cant even lay down in my own bed!”
She later testified that she had suffered for twenty years with arthritis in her back, until the LORD fully healed and restored her back that night.
More and more began testifying of being healed and we had a wonderful remaining five days of meetings that followed.
I left those meetings a changed man. The greatest miracle that had occurred, had happened in me!
I had learned that God does not need for us to be educated or to know how to do everything just perfectly right, but that He required eager students of His Presence and hearts willing to be led in the ways of His Spirit.
Most importantly I learned that it is never about the vessel, but always about the One Who works through the vessel – If I would just remain pliable and allow Him to use me as He willed, without presenting anything more or less than Him – He would come and do the extraordinary and the marvelous!
I also learned that true ministry never begins in ministry itself, but flows directly from that which the LORD does inside or our lives.
It is an extension of His work in us, and an external demonstration of the inner-manifestation of His Presence in our lives – He can do no greater through us than He can do in us!
Today I still love, value and treasure His Presence more than anything else in my life – because I have learned that it is His Presence that delivers, heals, restores and sets hearts ablaze with His Love!
– BE BLESSED!
~ Johann van der Hoven
Johann van der Hoven is in South Africa. He has been serving the LORD in ministry since 1991 and has hosted numerous apostolic revival meetings in South Africa and in South America. He also currently pioneers a organic church planting movement across South Africa. For more information about him and his ministry visit Fellowship of Believers or Revival.