Thursday, October 27, 2011

HOPE, an acronym: Holding On – Prayerfully Expectant! The Re-birth Story (Part 2)


My last blog ended with the Re-birth team once again placing their hope in Jesus and securing place on board a ferry bound from Greece to Italy. They had made it through the first ten days by Living Faith; divine interventions that strengthened their faith to carry them through the next 21 days as they sought to Bring Hope and Show Love to those who crossed their paths.

I had a little miracle of my own, a divine intervention, the day before the team got onto the ferry. I had heard from Christo’s mother that the boys were on a bus headed for Patras. Worried they wouldn’t get tickets for the ferry, I did an online booking and payment. I knew if they didn’t catch the ferry the following evening, they would be stuck in Patras for several days as the ferry was fully booked that entire weekend. I was certain the boys would make contact that evening and I’d be able to tell them their tickets were booked.

But God knew better and was in control all the time. Following a prompting in my spirit to contact the ferry company to ensure the internet booking had gone through, I made a phone call to Athens, Greece. I was advised by the voice on the other side that the ticket office had already closed and that I should contact the office at the port in Patras as that is where the booking should be done.

The next phone call to the west coast of Greece got me worried. I was told that I could not pay from South Africa and that the boys had to make their own bookings and payment at the office in Patras.

I quickly shot off an email to the office in Athens explaining the situation and requesting that the booking I had made online be cancelled immediately and that I not be charged.

Thursday morning began with a sigh of relief. An email had come through from Athens before I reached work stating that the booking had been cancelled with no cost to myself. The day got better when I heard from the team that they had already secured their tickets the previous evening and were just hanging around for the day, doing ministry in the street with Muslim refugees from Northern Africa while waiting to board the ferry that evening.

I was so grateful that I had listened to the still small voice that prompted me to send that cancellation email the previous night, for God had already supplied the Re-birth team’s need at the very same time.

The team had hoped to spend the night outside on deck, doing some stargazing as the ferry crossed the Ionian and Adriatic Seas. But cloudy skies dampened this idea as the ferry made its way from Patras to Igoumenitsa to Corfu, finally docking at Bari. Subsequently, the boys spent most of their time inside, although Davide and Kyle did attempt to sleep under the stars for a while until a wet deck and cold from the breaking dawn chased them back inside.

At the station in Bari the following morning, Re-birth once again found themselves stuck. They had decided to head north to the Netherlands where they hoped to attend Operation Mobilization’s Go Conference. Over 2000 kilometres and many trains stood between them and their destination, and they couldn’t even get started. There was no available place on the train as it was one of the busiest times of the holiday season.

Another issue they faced was that Davide had to purchase train tickets for travel in Italy as he could not travel in his own country on a Global Pass. The same would apply to Sam once they got to Sweden. So, even if the team managed to find a train with space, Davide couldn’t board because they refused to sell him a ticket at the ticket counter due to the full trains.

They felt lost and desperate.

For a while their attention was drawn to a young girl sitting close by. She was crying. Obedient to the Holy Spirit’s voice, Kyle walked over and sat down beside her. He soon discovered that she was sad because she was on her way back home to return to her studies, leaving her boyfriend behind in Greece. The team spent time with this young lady, cheering her up. When they finally parted company hours later, she was grateful to them for turning her day around.

As they ate lunch together, this young lady that God had brought across their path, said to the team that she’d been told she could get onto the very same train that they had been denied access on. She too was travelling on a Global Pass. She suggested they come with her when she boarded and see what happened. When they got to the train, Davide asked the conductor if they could get on, to which he replied, “Yes, it’s fine.” Davide also asked the conductor if he could purchase a ticket from him to which he replied, “No, it’s fine.” Davide checked twice more with the conductor and was told it was fine.

During the seven hour journey, they were checked by four different conductors – only one of them stopped Davide and told him he needed a ticket because he was Italian. When Davide explained the situation, that conductor also said that it was fine and left.

A train trip across Italy that would have been one of the most expensive, draining their limited resources, cost them nothing. They travelled the whole day to the top of Italy, close to the Austrian border, without paying a cent for Davide. They even managed to stop briefly in Modena where Davide’s mom brought them some snacks at the train station. God worked a miracle!

Even more amazing was the fact that the following day was Christo’s birthday. The team really wanted to get a cake for him, but they couldn’t afford it. Knowing they would pass through Modena, they had contemplated asking Davide’s mother for one. But they were reluctant to do this as they had agreed before starting this journey of faith, that they wouldn’t ask for anything. Eventually they decided to call Davide’s mom. To their surprise she told them that there was already a cake in the bag of food she was bringing. When Davide asked his mother how she knew they needed a cake, she replied, “I didn’t. I just thought you might like one.”

That night they slept in a room at the train station in Bolzano and the next morning headed for an MDT (Missionary Discipleship Training) friend’s house in Utrecht, Netherlands. They arrived at Elizabeth after ten that Saturday night. It was good to feel the softness of a bed once again.

Only Christo, Kyle and Nate were able to understand a little of the Dutch church service the next day thanks to their knowledge of the Afrikaans language, a derivative of Dutch. Nevertheless, it was a good feeling for the team to be in church again – to be with other believers, reflecting on the worship. And they enjoyed their first day of rest in quite some time. They spent time with the pastor, learning from him and having fun together.

On Monday morning, Re-birth left for Amsterdam. Arriving in the capital city, the five immediately made their way to the area of most need … the Red Light district. They found a place to sit and began singing praise songs. They also tried doing street evangelism, but found the people to be very closed.

The Red Light district

Statue in honour of Sexworkers all over the world

Later the team met up with Kaisa, a missionary friend of Davide who had provided a place for them to sleep that night at YWAM where she worked. Kaisa gave them some insight into the needs, as well as the work being done by YWAM in Amsterdam. She showed them the prayer room of the “Tabernacle of the Nations” where Christian workers meet every day to pray for Amsterdam. And full time prayer ministry is changing the street.

Light House Ministries, located in the same building, reaches out to the Ladies of the Night. They build friendships over coffee where they just talk and listen.

And coffee, cake and conversations are the powerful tools they use to reach the homeless in love.

Through all she showed them, Kaisa gave Re-birth hope. And although they now understood how hard ministry was in Amsterdam, they were encouraged by the work that is happening in this scarlet area. They are motivated to pass the message of hope along.

Later they took a prayer walk in this over-crowded area of just a few blocks that’s overflowing with porn shops, sex shops, cannabis coffee shops and drug stores selling anything from drugs to needles to mushroom kits. The spiritual darkness of Amsterdam was overwhelming and their hearts broke for this city. Walking down “Sin’s Street”, they wondered what they could do in just one day – there was so much need.

Porn shops, sex shops, cannabis coffee shops,
drugs, needles and mushroom kits in a drug store

No ordinary museum – note the Cannabis logo on top

When Kyle put the photos I’ve just shared on the Re-birth website, he was worried because it’s in the Red Light district. But he said, “There ain’t no sugarcoating stuff there.”

As I’m reading Tom Davis’s novel, Scared, a book that pulls no punches, where unspeakable ugly stuff is not smoothed over, I’m reminded of the advice I gave my son not to sugarcoat; that people need to see what is happening in Amsterdam.

Floyd McClung, former Executive Director of International Operations of YWAM, whom Kyle met in South Africa just before leaving for Re-birth Europe, lived on one of these streets, establishing an inner-city ministry and evangelizing the lost. The team wondered what he did; how he coped.

Tuesday, 23 August (Day 16) saw the team attending the Go Conference in Delden where they met some great people as well as reconnected with some MDT friends and leaders from their training earlier in the year. They had a great day of fellowship, worship and prayer – inspired by missionaries; inspiring others with their own Re-birth stories.

The Re-birth team all brightly dressed in yellow,
except for Nate in the front in red

They stayed the night in tents at the conference at a cost of €10 each. Later someone  felt led to give them €50. God once again supplied the exact amount to meet their need for accommodation.

For a long time, the team felt led to go to Belgium. They didn’t know why; they knew no one there, and the leads to missionaries in Belgium that they got before leaving South Africa, bore no fruit.

Nathaneal waiting for a ride to Go Conference
When their ride collects them at the train station to take them to the conference, they discover their “chauffeur” is none other than a South African missionary working for OM in Belgium. And as they got to know Johann Jordaan throughout the course of the day, they discovered they had much in common. Johann, too, is a man determined to live by faith. Re-birth have subsequent plans to partner with his ministry called Go In Faith.

The team left the Netherlands bound for Finland the following morning, knowing the reason they had one day at the Go Conference was to meet Johann Jordaan. Johann gave the team guidance on how to structure Re-birth for the future and shared his soon to be launched Online Discipleship through Skype. This was something the team had been pondering on: How to disciple people they meet on their journey.

What a divine appointment!

Another 2000 kilometres found the team in Stockholm, Sweden, boarding an overnight ferry bound for Finland. Five minutes after arriving at the ticket office, the counter closed. God is never early, and He’s never late – He is always just on time!

Sam heading for the ferry in Stockholm

On the ferry, they met two local guys, as they shared stories and jokes, God gave the team some insight to the Finnish culture through these new friends.

Tiialotta, another MDT friend, met them at the ferry station in Turku at 7am. They spent the morning in preparation for a street concert Tiia had arranged for them to help with. In the early evening they joined Purified, an Australian Christian rapper, in a city centre square for ministry. A large crowd gathered to listen to the rapper, and Nathaneal had an opportunity to share what Jesus means to him and why he dances. The team also helped with handing out free coffee and cake.

Purified, Australian Christian Rapper

Finland was more than beautiful verdant forests, or graceful sailing ships floating on mirrored waters; it offered some of the best conversations the team had had. This was a huge highlight on their journey. People were open and saw something different in the Re-birth guys. One person told Christo, “Thanks for not judging; you're so different. I really appreciate that you take time to talk to me and listen.” They ministered in the square till way past midnight.

When they got back to Tiialotta’s sister’s house, they were initiated into the Finnish culture of sauna, where they braved the steam until three in the morning with the local pastor as he shared his wisdom.

The next day brought the blessing of staying over at a Christian camp and worshipping at a concert, Finnish style.

Only a third of the Re-birth journey remains, but there are still many inspiring stories to share as well as some exciting plans of my own.

If you haven’t yet visited the Re-birth website or viewed their Europe documentary teaser, hurry over to and 

Much work has been done on the full documentary, and this has led to the project taking a slightly different direction than initially planned. Much like this blog, it has become a three part series with Part 1 focusing on Faith and their time in Eastern Europe; Part 2 on the much needed Hope in countries like the Netherlands; and Part 3 on Love in a country synonymous with the emotion and yet so desperately in need of the love of Jesus.

More fun video clips can be found at:

Re-birth, Adventure:
Re-birth, Excitement:
Re-birth, Life’s Fun:

And if you missed the previous two, here are the links again:

Re-birth, Get Moving:

MARION UECKERMANN’s writing passion was sparked in 2001 when she moved to Ireland with her husband and two sons. Since then Marion has been honing her skills and has published some devotional articles in Winners at Work and The One Year Book of Joy and Laughter (published August 2011), as well as inspirational poetry online and in a poetry journal. She has written her first Christian Women’s novel (unpublished) and is currently working on the sequel as well as a Historical Romance novel. Marion now lives in Pretoria East, South Africa in an empty nest with her husband and a crazy black ‘Scottie’. Marion is a member of the Christian Writers of South Africa and can be contacted via email on marionu(at)telkomsa(dot)net.


  1. Sjoe! Quite an adventure these guys are having.

  2. The trip is truly a walk in faith. God goes before them, and has given them so much to rejoice over. What a wonderful experience!