I Dreamed a Dream
Margie Willers, to the Totara Springs Camp Convention, 2011
For me, one of the most poignant speeches ever has to be Martin Luther King, Jnr’s “I have a dream.”
Even today, when listening to a replay of that inspiring address, I experience goose-bumps. It’s spine-tingling stuff! What a visionary. What passion. What drive. What commitment.
I’m convinced with a “God-dream” that it’s absolutely imperative for the God-dream catcher to be a person who is task driven, goal orientated. Totally focused, like the eye of the tiger upon its prey.
In 1976, I received a God-dream. I was 28 years of age, a graduate from Faith Bible College, Tauranga.
The cushy-incubator era had ended. Reality set in — it was time to put into practice those “faith principles” I’d been taught in the classroom. I most certainly don’t deny the stepping out into new adventure was both challenging and daunting.
Faith Bible College proved my training ground: the launching pad for future ministry. It was a ministry that was born through inner healing, vision, teaching and prophetic commission.
My home town is Te Puke. Surprisingly, I sensed the nudge of the Holy Spirit to kick-start a Christian work in Auckland, with disabled people. Courageous Kiwi battlers — people who lived with and overcame all types of disabilities.
I’d known Di Willis for some years. Di, with her Occupational Therapy qualifications and expertise with quadriplegic and paraplegic patients, had long time expressed a deep hankering for such a work to be birthed. Understandably, she was more than enthusiastic that we connect, and together we spear-headed a Christian Organisation.
A large question loomed. For Heaven’s sake — where in this world would we begin? The task before us was enormous. Gigantic!
Pursuing our dream gave us an immense zeal to strive for God’s ultimate purpose and plan. The dream opened our spiritual eyes. Though the ideas we dreamed for hadn’t at that stage materialised, yet amazingly, they seemed more attainable, more real to us, than the natural world around us. Now, is that not exercising faith?
Our God-given dream gave us both a different sense of value. A fresh hope was born for the disabled. We knew that we knew, we’d been entrusted with an unfolding God-assignment. And, that surely ignited an excitement!
The dream-vision wasn’t wishful thinking. It was concrete. However, the reality of the situation was we most certainly couldn’t go it alone. We needed help — an entire army of people to connect and help with fleshing out the dream if we were going to make an impact with meeting the depth of human need.
People differed with their physical needs. God didn’t cut us with the same cookie-cutter. Everyone involved came from a wide diversity of backgrounds with different gifting, emotions and taste.
We aimed high. We believed for a fellowship where people had opportunity to come to a faith in Jesus Christ; a place from whence they could commit themselves to a personal journey with God. A place of common ground where a person would be challenged, cajoled, provoked to discover their own creative abilities and their God-given vocation, and become a person of destiny. The potential was limitless…
Our dream in kick-starting a fellowship-outreach became a living reality. 18 months lapsed. With bi-monthly meetings, numbers escalated at an unbelievably phenomenal rate. Disabled peoples’ talents and abilities blossomed and bloomed.
In-depth discussions led to the planning of future programmes. A boat cruise, barbecue picnics, gospel concerts, evangelical outreaches, small camps that led to larger Camp Conventions, Disability Awareness team ministry to churches — and so much more!
Believe me, 30 years back, our national camps were unforgettable. For many of our first-time campers, the programmes at Totara Springs proved life-changing. Both able and disabled people have testified of experiencing unique and lasting spiritual breakthrough. Many moved on into mission outreach and other ministry service.
A vision must be progressive. However, we had to think practically.
I like this analogy challenge of John Stowell’s: Life as we well know it is like playing in mud-puddles in our backyards, whereas God calls us to the beach where we can build the meanest sandcastles. God wanted us to think big really big! Our minds and spirits went into overdrive.
We envisaged a Christian Foundation with a building housing offices, tape and book libraries, recording studio, a day centre, specialised vehicles for transporting disabled folk to and from activities — and more… In natural terms, our dream seemed utterly absurd. Preposterous!
We well remember, during the late 70s, certain onlookers anticipating our experiencing failure, and accusing us of unrealistic expectations. Day dreamers; dreaming the Impossible Dream.
Certainly, we confronted insurmountable odds. We were unskilled. Untrained. We lacked business acumen. We dreamed lofty dreams with no known resources to draw from. We had nothing. Total zilch.
Today, the dream we spoke out in faith most definitely materialised.
We have proven that if a dream is truly conceived by the Spirit of God, then God will watch over it, stage by stage, facet by facet, process by process. He will bring it through to completion.
Numerous times we felt s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d — well out of our comfort zone. Nevertheless, God grew us, developed us, and moved us into maturity. Like God did with Gideon, as we applied ourselves to each phase of the unfolding ministry journey.
A very meaningful Scripture throughout those pioneer-days was “Be stouthearted, courageous … do the work of the Lord. Be not discouraged, for the Lord is with you. He will not fail you, neither will he leave you until all the work is finished … and, he will provide you willing people, skilled in every craft to help you…” (1 Chronicles 28:20)
Today, we proclaim: God is not a man, that he should lie. He has remained faithful to the truth and to the fulfillment of that ‘”dream”. To him be all glory.