God is my Rock

I was 23 years old, my husband 26 years old and we had three small children. On the 1st of March of that year we moved to Tzaneen, in Limpopo Province of South Africa. Jan, my husband was a telephone technician in the postal services. On the 9th of March he was working to repair a telephone line, demonstrating the use of a power saw to the workers, when a tree fell on a telephone wire, shot back and fell over his back. He lost consciousness for half an hour, got up and went back to work. The incident was not reported and I knew nothing about what happened. That night he woke with a fever and could not use his legs. A colleague living next door heard the commotion and, while I went to call the doctor, came over and gave Jan a hand full of malaria tablets to drink as he thought he may be suffering from malaria. Jan lost consciousness. Our son saw this and told the doctor and I about it. Jan was placed in ICU of the hospital in Tzaneen, staying there for three weeks. All along his condition deteriorated, his organs failing one after the other.

Eventually he was taken to Pretoria, not even in an ambulance, just in the back of a station wagon, not at all being taken care of on the way. He was admitted to the HF Verwoerd hospital (Now called Steve Biko Academic Hospital). He was in a coma for 6 months, only being kept alive by the machines he was connected to. At that time I was permitted to continue my nursing studies, work and live at the hospital with our children.

When I was given two days to decide to switch off the machines and end his life, I was in a state, not knowing what to do. I stood by the window in his room, looking out over Pretoria, and started to pray, asking God for a sign, showing me what to do. While standing I felt a hand on my shoulder. As I turned I saw a Man in a white robe, with long white hair and a white Bible clutched to His chest. He suggested that we pray, went over to Jan’s bed and placed our hands on his chest with the Bible and started to pray. I was scared that Jan may have a fit, which at the time happened quite often, so I prayed that He would just finish quickly. From across the bed, He prayed to forgive me my thoughts. In fright I opened my eyes just to find that I was alone with only the nurse in the room with us. She said that she was wondering what I was up to. There was small movements in Jan’s foot and I was convinced this was my sign not to turn off the machines. When I spoke to the doctor about this, he thought that I imagined the movement but then it happened again. He then agreed to keep the machines going.

Three weeks later Jan woke up from the coma. He spent 5 years in hospital, paralysed from the neck down. All along I could work and take care of him and our children. Afterwards I nursed him at home while receiving a full salary from the hospital.

Jan could see his children and grandchildren grow up. We were together for 42 years before he passed away. He even survived three heart attacks on one day!

God’s Hand has always been very visible in my life, guiding me, strengthening me. Still today, He is my Rock, every day giving me strength and protection.

Sarie Swanepoel



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