Stumped, not just pruned!

Father had to break things in us so that He could love people and we wouldn’t be the ones loving them. Often we want to do things ourselves and we want to serve them and we do it out of our own strength. It took 11 years, living out of Father’s hand in our own community, before Father could release us to go into the mission field. The last 9 months before we finally went away we spent in the Onder Kouga (a part of the Langkloof Valley in Eastern Cape) staying in tents on a small patch of land. It was our birthing before we finally went into Africa. There were no taps, just spring water close by. This was our final preparation before going into the mission fields of Africa. When we left for the mission field our daughters were 13 and 15 years of age. We spent about four and a half years in Zambia associated with a mission organisation, also spending some time in Namibia and Malawi.
Then Father sent us to Kenya and we went there as if we were going to stay because that is what we believed was His will for us. In the end we were there for only seven weeks and He brought us back. Sometimes we think that we know His plan for us but it turns out differently. Going there was very necessary but also very traumatic. By that time we’ve already been in the mission field for five years and we did not realise how broken and tired we were. There was nothing left. We needed to come home so that our children could strengthen up and have ‘home’ as they hadn’t felt that for a very long time. Even before finally leaving, for most of their lives, we stayed communally, with other people, did not have our own home and stayed in tents.
When Father brought us back from Kenya, for me it was almost as if we have let Him down, as if we’ve lost the plot, as if we haven’t been strong enough to continue. Even though we were prepared to die in that place, and I almost did, from spiritual attacks as well as malaria, we had to come home but we had no home to come back to. So when we came home it was this struggle – did we let Him down, did we drop the ball, did we not press through or whatever? We declared: “You know us, we will just carry on until we’re dead…” In our hearts we felt we wanted to come home and He let us do just that.
Misgund was not on our radar, we never thought that Father would bring us here and that our daughter would get married from Misgund. We barely knew about the little town before ending up here. Coming back we stayed in a small flat in Heubertina, Onder Kouga, provided by friends. We needed to gather strength and recover. We’ve all had malaria numerous times, our 18 year old daughter had it 24 times! While staying in the little flat we asked around and came to know of a house on one of the Du Toit farms (mass fruit producers in the Langkloof) which we now rent. Abba Father may send us away again but for now we are here.
Within 2 weeks of arriving in the Langkloof both I daughters left home. We have always moved as a family, from when our youngest was in grade 2, when we took both the girls out of mainstream education and started home schooling and living by the Grace of God, our provider. Father spoke a family Word and whenever we listened to His guidance, we listen about family, it’s been corporate service and Father used our family like that. In Zambia Father used us in solidarity, as a family where a lot of the young people lack that kind of example and exposure, especially lacking father figures in their lives. The youngsters would congregate because we had children of their ages and we were family to them too. The girls leaving so suddenly when we came home, was traumatic.
The kids were gone and Abraham and I rattled around, I lost my identity. I realised that, although my identity is in Christ, everything I think, everything I’ve listened for and the way I’ve lived in Him has been family. Suddenly the kids were not around. I struggled to read the Word, it felt like I’ve lost my voice, I did not know how to function, to be anything else than the person I’ve been all these years.
For seven/eight months after they have left it was like mourning. I was mourning a Word that Father had spoken, that was over because He called us as a family and it would never be the same again. I could not imagine anything else because it was so glorious to be a family, to move as a family and to love Him as a family, the unity and the strength in it. I could not see that there could be anything after that because it was so deep and so good. It took all those months for me to lay it down and to know that it was finished, it was over and we did not know what was coming next or how will we be. Spiritually it was still, I felt dull, I had to find who I was again. I said to Abraham that I know that sometimes Father prunes, and we’ve been pruned many times. This time I felt stumped, as if He chopped the tree down completely. It felt as if there was nothing, everything that I’ve been, everything that I’ve experienced, everything that we’ve been as a family, it’s been cut down, it was gone! I’ve lost being in the secret place and I’ve known that that is where we were supposed to be but I could not get back into it.
As we were working through this, Father used the time of isolation – our friends were quiet, we were alone and we felt like square pegs in round holes, as if we did not fit in, more so than ever before. Home is heaven and we were just passing through this world, we did not really belong. We lived on the outside of structures, even of the church, and it just never felt as if we really belonged. We thought we’ve lost the plot, lost our way. We did not realise it at the time but God was actually busy, we just did not understand it while we were in it, we thrashed around not really knowing what to do. Then a friend called me on my birthday and something turned. Usually she would just send a message but this time she called and I could hardly speak, I just wept. I felt like I have lost everything and Father was saying: “Give back every friendship, no strings, you mustn’t be attached, just give up. Give up your children, give up what you’ve had.” Everything had to be laid down!
Towards the end of last year, as we were going through a container of old things, I found a Word that Father had given us, a friend gave it to us as we moved to live in the tents before leaving for Africa, in 2008. We never understood it, it was from Isaiah 6:13 where it refers to the terebinth and oak trees being stumped but the seed, the essence, remained in the stump. Father was speaking about Israel and all along we were asking what that meant. This Word was from 2008 and we’ve never known what it meant until we rediscovered it in 2019 and realised that it was about what we were going through at that time specifically. 11 Years down the line He wanted us to know that what we were experiencing He had prepared us for, even though we did not understand it then, He has brought it to remembrance now. We were strengthened by His Word. Yes, we would be cut down but the substance remained.
One day I phoned a friend and told her that I realised that the tree (our ministry as a family) had to be cut down, because that tree grew, it was beautiful, there were fruit that grew in it and many ate and we were obedient. There was feeding and healing for the nations from this tree, all the young ones came under the shadow of the tree. But that tree was gone! Our daughter is married, under a new governance with her husband and the other stepped into her own life, busy with her studies. It was as if that tree, that family tree, was for a time and He had to cut it down. But Father promised that the substance remained in the tree. My friend then told me that for more than an hour, before I called, another friend had been telling her that Father was busy stumping the body, He was pruning back because that was what the body needed and that it was all about the stump. We thought that it was only happening to us but in the meantime the one and only Spirit was busy in the bride. The friend sent me a teaching from Dutch Sheets, an American author, speaking about trees being stumped. In Job 14 it says that when a tree is cut down the substance remains in it, even though it may look dead and lifeless, at the scent of water new shoots of life will come out. From my birthday when I felt that something in the spirit changed, there was a deeper hunger in us again to press into the Word. Suddenly things in our spirit was opened again and we were hearing Father speaking again.
About two months before all this occurred we had a terrible storm late one afternoon and our cat was outside in the garden. I ran out to fetch her, standing amongst the tall eucalyptus trees blowing and swaying in the wind. I looked up and just felt the Spirit say: “Move, it is dangerous here.” I moved away and when I got to the corner of the house, the tree snapped in half and fell over, as well as two of the poplar trees. Three weeks later the farm manager sent a worker to cut the tree down with a chain saw. We said he could just leave a little stump to put a bird bath on top of. And then this Word came… about the stump and Dutch Sheets saying that at the scent of water the new shoots will come…
Two weeks after I walked out into the garden and the stump has started to grow! I just looked at it and wept because this is who we are – He makes us live things and then He manifests Himself in it. I have written the Word down and banged it into the stump in the garden and it is growing profusely now. Father has just been speaking to me about “re-“, about revival, to revive, to remould, He had to remould and that is why it took so long. We’ve been out of Kenya for nearly 4 years, He had to break down the clay again because we were so used to flowing in a certain way, which was our shape. Years ago He said that we should be like soft clay and if He wants to minister through music then He will pour Himself in us through music, if He wants to minister through a prophetic Word, then He will give us a Word and we will speak it, if He wants to minister in prayer or serving or whatever, we must be soft clay and He will mould what He wants to and He will minister. We have no ministry, we are just blobs and sometimes He just keeps us in His hand and will hide us away. He will work through the clay to find any hardness and with His love will soften it and mould it into something new. That is what we have been experiencing. It took 4 years of breaking down and making ready for a new season. Father is growing a new tree and it doesn’t look like anything that we’ve known before. We can feel the “re-“, like first love reappearing, revival, remoulding, recommissioning… The number of commissioning is 11, after order, because 11 disciples were commissioned. When Father originally called us in 1998, He only released us in 2008 to go, 11 years of preparation later. We had to live amongst people who knew us, who asked: “What are you doing? Aren’t you working?” We had to live missions amongst the known before He sent us into Africa. Now He was “re-“, reviving, recommissioning, etc. The dictionary defines “re-“as ‘again, but in a different way’. Father even gave us a new commission, exactly 11 years after we received the Word about the stumping.
This is our new season of excitement, of watching, not knowing what to expect. We know that it is about the work of our hands, it’s about His beauty, it’s about equipping His army with banners, in whatever form those may come, to strengthen His army to stand in the battle that we are in now. So the new tree is growing, we know it in our hearts and He is manifesting it in our garden.
There were many lies from the enemy that I listened to – “You’ve let Him down / He is not happy with you.” We were in a vulnerable place, broken. Then our son in law sent the Lauren Daigle song, “You say / I am loved” and it strengthened me again, lifting me out of the downward spiral that the enemy kept me in. Father allowed the desperation to grow, in our brokenness so that we would leave everything behind again and just push in, to know that life is only in Him, not in the stuff. Once before we sold and gave away all the stuff and carried what we could and followed Him. He filled our lives with beautiful things again but we know that they are His and we would be prepared to leave all of it behind again, to follow Him. He says: “Hold lightly to everything and cling to Me.”
For now we only serve Father by serving whomever He sends across our path. We live faith and serve however we can. We minister to Him and He brings whoever He deems fit to us to serve. We love them and serve them in the way that He wants us to. We do a lot of handy work and He provides for us.
Desire le Roux
Eastern Cape (for now)

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