JOURNEY TO JERUSALEM
A tale by Johny Noer
"For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law" (Hebrew 7:12).
The day, which started the long series of events bringing about ‘the change’ in my ministry as a preacher was the 3rd of March 1971. On that day 18-months old Peter died.
He was a lovely boy. Fair-haired, blue eyes and with a joyful thrill in his laughter, when we played together in the large apartment in Copenhagen.
Those were days of sunshine, and it seemed as if the world would never change. I was involved in a very effective gospel-outreach in the centre of Copenhagen, and was at the same time travelling in a broadening evangelistic ministry in Europe.
I was convinced that I would stay on that track the rest of my days; this was my life and my calling, and nothing could ever change it. That morning on the 3rd of March 1971 I just noticed that Peter had a little fever. Not something alarming. He didn’t run around on his small legs as usual; he was in bed sleeping.
At a certain moment I heard him cough. I noticed that he was not taking in new breath between the coughing, and I rushed to his bed and took him in my arms. He was still coughing but never breathing-in again, and to my terror, I saw that life was leaving him.
I called an ambulance.
In the eternity before it arrived, I tried together with my wife, who was a nurse, to open the skin under the throat of the little boy in order to get air down into his lungs that way. Somewhere she had read that this could be done, but the knife was too blunt, and we too shocked and nervous to accomplish anything. In the end I grabbed the lifeless boy, bowed my knees on the kitchen floor and cried to the Lord. Then I jumped down the stairs, five stores, to the ambulance, which just entered the street with horns and light-signals. One of the ambulance men worked desperately with an oxygen-respirator while the other man was driving through the main street of that part of the city. I heard the chauffeur reporting over the radio: "We come in with the flag on", which evidently called the whole staff of doctors to the urgency hall. When we drove in they were waiting for us there, and within minutes they succeeded for a short time to bring life back in Peter. He was for some hours breathing again…
One of the men in the white coats approached me. "Your little son has been without oxygen for eight minutes", he said. "His brain has been seriously damaged. I am sorry to have to tell you that he will never be the same again."
That day I wrote on the front page of my Bible, where I have all the names of my children: "Peter was born on the 15th of November 1969 in Copenhagen, but the Lord took him home already on the 3rd of March 1971.
From that day I was never the same again. A great change in my life and ministry had started.
When I look back on the dramatic and life-changing events of the following months, I can only come to one conclusion: It is difficult for the Lord to bring about any major change in lives, ministries and even the common prayers of his servants and his people: We all stick to what we have got! None of us is prepared to accept any swerve of direction! We have all – without knowing it – become very established in our traditional thinking and way of ministry and life. Only personal ‘earthquakes’ or social upheavals may make us realise that we are on the threshold of a new dispensation of God.
I am like that, and that’s probably the reason why God had to deal rather severely in my case. One blow after the other – all with the same heavy impact upon my life as this sudden death of little Peter – hit me in one terrible and seemingly endless chain-reaction of events, until I at last at the very end of this road lost my wife dying only 30 years old of cancer and leaving me alone with four small children. All along this long, dark way God wanted to speak to me, and it was before I reached the very end, that I one day found myself placed with my family in a small caravan a few meter from the Danish border.
I had no home, no ministry, no income, no church, no future, no money – and almost no hope! I didn’t quite realise what was going on, I only knew that personally I had committed no sin and that God was continually speaking to me.
I didn’t like, what God was saying, because it had to do with that total change of thinking, living and serving, which I wouldn’t accept.
God said, "Cross the border!"
As in the previous months through incidents outside my control I had been hurled in an increasing greater circle around my normal centre of life. I was simply afraid that this step of ‘crossing the border’ would throw me out in a vast ‘nowhere’.
I took a job at the harbour of Esbjerg, and for a time I had to carry some heavy bags from the ships to the waiting trains and lorries. Those bags were teaching me a good lesson. If I was back at the ever-running transport band in right time to catch the heavy bag, it was mechanically loaded on my shoulder. If I was not back in time the next bag was thrown on the floor, and I had to load it myself upon my shoulder and carry it to the train or lorry.
As I was not used to that kind of job, and as I was too inexperienced in the art of lifting heavy bags from the floor, I was never back in time for the precise unloading from the transport band. In fact I had a heap of bags on the floor – all belonging to me. And the worst thing was not that they were heavy; these bags were preaching!
"Heavy?" they asked when arduously I was trying to get them on my shoulder.
"Sure!" I sighed.
"That’s why you are not back in time!" they continued mockingly.
"All right! I know", I groaned.
"Better to do the right thing at the right time", they went on.
I didn’t answer. Those bags were too insistent; they always ended their preaching on the same note.
"What are you doing here? Get back to your job: Cross the border!"
The border was only a few meter from us. We would look into Germany. The caravan was placed on a field belonging to a Christian Danish farmer, who worshipped with his family in a small Pentecostal church in a village not far from the border.
One morning the farmer came out to me on the field. "I know God has spoken to you", he said.
"Well", I answered. "Do you also know, what He said?"
"Oh yes", he said.
I looked at him to hear what more he had to tell, but he didn’t go on with the conversation. Farmers in that part of Denmark called ‘Sønderjylland’ are known to be men of few words.
"Well", I continued, "What did God say to me?"
The farmer brushed a big hand over his chin. The field was smelling of spring time.
"Cross the border", he said silently. "God has told you to cross the border! But you are afraid", the farmer continued. Suddenly his tongue was loosened. "You are afraid because you are alone. You are afraid what’s going to happen with your family. You are afraid of what is waiting you out there! You are afraid because you have no money! You are afraid, aren’t you?"
The man in front of me spoke with a strange anger trembling in his voice.
"Why don’t you trust God?" he said. "Don’t be fearful! Accept the change. Cross that border!"
I picked up another stone and threw it towards Germany. The bags from Esbjerg harbour had taken away the last strength out of my right arm. The stone didn’t pass the borderline. It ended in the far end of the field.
The eyes of the farmer searched me.
"If you are so afraid concerning money, I will help you; you think that you won’t have petrol enough to get but a few hundred miles, and then you will be in trouble, don’t you?"
I nodded again.
"All right, I will give you a cow!"
"A cow?" I asked surprised.
"Yes", he said. "You are going to have a cow. I will give you one! Because of your lack of faith you are going to have one of those cows of mine.
"But what shall I do with a cow?"
"Did I hear God’s anger in the voice of this kind and holy man?
"Nothing! You just let it grass on this field, and if you are in need somewhere out there on the other side of that border, you tell me, and I will sell the cow to the slaughter-house and send you the money."
For a moment none of us said anything. Then he turned around and went up towards the farmer-house.
"But you are going to see, that your lack of faith is wrong", he shouted back. "That cow is going to live. You are never going to send for it. God is not going to let you down – you just cross that border!"
Then he picked up a stone and flung it with tremendous power far into Germany…
He was right. I crossed the border and went for more than 6 months on the roads of Europe. It was my first great journey in faith, and the first real change of my ministry – and the cow survived. I never sent for it.
In those days I started to realise that some predictions of the New Testament were hitting me.
"There is going to be a shaking, so that everything without solid foundation will be sifted out and only unshakable things will be left", says the writer to the Hebrews (12:26-27).
Slowly I began to grasp that we are all living on the threshold of a new age, and that God is about to change the life and ministry of many of His servants all over the world. Some of them have already been through ‘the mill’, and several are now slowly being involved in the greatest change, which will take place in our generation.