Pierre Spies Amazing Testimony
Keep on Keeping on
I was blessed to grow up in a loving Christian home. Both my parents had committed their lives to the full-time ministry of serving God and His people. Our little family, my parents, my elder sister Johanni, younger sister Steffani and I were instructed in the Way of the Lord – always placing Him first. We were taught the Word of God from an early age – learning it verse by verse and reciting it to guests visiting our home. We were basking in the love of the Lord and I felt blessed, and at a young age was starting to comprehend the Father’s Heart for His children here on earth.
In primary school I excelled at both academics and sport. I was a happy child and was experiencing God’s true blessings in my life. My parents loved each other and protected and challenged us on every level – always offering their support and motivation. My father instilled a strong champion spirit within us, teaching us to believe that we are winners and always motivating us by saying: “The best is yet to come. That is what God wants for you – the BEST, to PROSPER”.
My mother taught us the art of survival – to live with endurance and perseverance. She taught us diligence and nurtured a fighter’s spirit within each one of us – never to give up in challenging times and to have patience and perseverance.
When I went to high school things started to change. I was going through the typical changes a teenage boy experiences – wanting to impress the girls but feeling insecure, looking terribly out of proportion with extra large ears and feet and experiencing problems with my skin. I didn’t play for the A-team, and wasn’t very popular. A good thing was that my attitude was right and I always participated in as many events as I could, knowing through what I had been taught that hard work and a good attitude is what pulls you through.
My parents were going through a crisis in their marriage and it became evident that my pretty picture of home was going to change. At the age 15 my parents chose to get a divorce. I was asking more and more questions about life and God – especially how a loving God could allow this to happen. Why do bad things happen to good people? Why do families get separated? I realised only later that this isn’t Gods plan, but we live and die by the decisions we make. In Deutoronomy 30 God says: “I lay before you life and death, blessing and cursing, so choose life..” Yet alot of times we blame God for the decisions we make.
This was a very big blow to my world. My picture of family was shattered – no more family holidays or Christmas’s together. The security I’d known until that point was plucked out from under me. Through this pain I made a decision that one day I would make a success of my marriage and I would learn from the mistakes my parents had made.
You also have to make that decision… its not good enough to say because your parents did it, that’s why you are doing it, you’re better than that! Turn your pain around. Learn from it. You can do it!
Instead of seeking God in all of my pain I found consolation with my friends and became more and more influenced by the group. Peer pressure, like what people thought of me, trying to be someone else, brought about a lifestyle of self-centeredness. I was always in pursuit of acceptance and acknowledgement, but ironically only feeding the void in your soul, being empty when I was alone.
I was living with my mother and two sisters and as a family we were going through some really challenging times. My elder sister Johanni was a full-time law student. Myself and Steffani were both still at high school. At 40 years old, having been a stay-at-home mom, my mother decided to study a degree in law in pursuit of her independence and financial freedom.
This was adding a lot of pressure to our situation and financially we were struggling to make ends meet. I remember a time I invited friends over to our house, advising them that they could only visit our home, but could not eat there because we did not have enough money for food to entertain our guests.
It was during this time that my sister Johanni, 22 years old at the time and in her final year of LLB, fell pregnant with her long-time boyfriend. This was another blow to my understanding of life and family. A family so committed to serving God? What would everyone say? How would this look to the world? Our core moral values were in question.
Johanni was faced with the choice so many women in her situation are faced with – the question of having an abortion. This proved to be the easy way out. In our home we were taught that the pain of discipline is worth more than the pain of shame. Taking responsibility was the right thing to do – it would bring forth fruit in the long run.
Johanni chose to take responsibility for her actions and not to give up, but to follow through with the pregnancy. God blessed her with a beautiful baby girl called Milla two weeks before her final LLB Law exam. Milla was a miracle and came to us in such a difficult time. Today we cannot imagine our lives without this little princess. Now she’s 7 years old and a bundle of life-giving joy!
My father taught us that if we continue doing the same things that other people were doing we would never be different. I wanted to be different. God blessed me with sporting talent. In this difficult time I chose to be different and make a few major decisions. I wanted to be the fastest, the strongest and the best at what I did. When my father was young he was a prominent sports figure in South Africa, excelling at athletics and rugby. I had the blessing of inheriting these genes. Yet, talent is never enough. My father had taught me that the seeds of discipline and sacrifice needed to be sown for the harvest of success to come in. I had to make a commitment. It was the only thing I was sure of in my life. I was motivated by the quote: “Success is not the blaze of sudden glory won, it is the effort adding up of strong work done.”
I was in gym every morning at 5am, playing rugby after school, choir in the evenings and then there was the academics. This was such a busy time, but before I knew it I was in Grade 12 and I had grown from a small out of proportion teen to a tall, strong and fast young man. I started reaping the rewards of those disciplined decisions. Not partying when my friends did and training when they didn’t . I was No 1 in South Africa in discus, I was No 3 in shotput U20, and qualified for the World Junior Athletics Championships. I was chosen to captain the Blue Bulls at Craven Week and I was excelling at my rugby. I was confronted with a choice to pursue a professional career in sport and chose rugby.
After high school I signed a contract with the Blue Bulls and was given a full bursary to study at the University of Pretoria. This was awesome and I was experiencing financial independence I wasn’t accustomed to because of my contract. In my first year I was chosen for the SA U19 side and the media started paying attention to me. I was labelled the next big thing in South African rugby. I was experiencing the honor of man and I was riding this wave of glory. However, at the World Championships the unexpected happened when I broke my arm. The break was bad and the injury would initially keep me sidelined for at least two months. My mind was filled with so many questions. This was supposed to be my time and my breakthrough after everything I had invested. Why me Lord? Why now? My gran shared the Bible verse from John 13:7 with me, and I would only later fully understand it’s relevance. God has a plan with everything.
My arm did not heal in the expected time and I ended up not playing for 10 months. My thinking at the time was that it was a great time to commit to my studies, but it turned out to be the perfect excuse for a party. I was young and started hanging out in all the clubs, drinking and slowly losing my focus that had previously driven me to succeed. I was in a very bad space. My dad kept motivating me by saying I had to remain positive and that the best was yet to come.
By the end of 2004 I had no goals and no motivation, and was totally unfocussed. On top of all this my arm refused to heal. It was at this time I believed things could not get any worse. I was so wrong. I got the shocking news that my father had a heart attack and had died at the age of 53. How sudden! How could this be? Lord this is too much! Why now? I need my dad, my father, my mentor…
But God had a divine plan…
I was immediately confronted with questions of my life, mortality and eternity. This was the moment my life changed. I knew that I desperately needed to get my life right with God. I started asking what the goal of my life was and chasing God’s plan. I was not sure of what would happen to me if I died. I needed to connect with God and make a few radical decisions for what I believed.
My father had been the cornerstone of my security. He was my foundation, my protector, my guide. My dad called himself the “Groot Leeu” – he was 6 ft 4 and had an awesome aura around him. He had a fantastic sense of humour, was multi-talented, played the piano and guitar, wrote the most incredible letters, always sent us motivational texts and was always inspiring us. He believed in me and raised his children for one great goal – to do great things for the Kingdom of God.
My father taught us to always be the best you can be and wrote each one of us a song when we were little. Mine went something like this:
“My naam is Ouboet en ek is my pa se bul.
Ek is nog maar baie klein, maar Loftus gaan nog brul.
Al wil ek nooit aan die lag kom nie en almal se ek is nors bly ek nog die baas, met “Big shot” op my bors…”
My dad spoke prophetically into our lives from a young age. I will never forget the simple truths he taught me – always be humble and friendly with everyone.
They say when a father dies the son becomes a man. The “Groot Leeu” (Big lion) was gone and the “Klein Leeu” (Small lion) had to take his place. God started sending people into my life, sharing His love and relating their life stories and that it was time for me to make a decision for Him. One Sunday morning after a heavy night before, I found myself sitting in church. He was calling. The call was loud and clear within my spirit and I knew I wanted to give my life to the Lord Jesus Christ and commit to serving Him. That day it felt like the pastor was speaking directly to me. The Bible says God is light, and when he shines upon you it is your conscience that speaks to you.
I was tired of hangovers and the fake glory of man. I chose to give my life back to God that day in the church, publicly in front of people, crying and repenting of my sins, accepting Christ in my heart completely, wanting Him to consume every part of me. And He did.. .he made me new. God makes you a new creation and wipes away your past!
AGAIN, I wanted to be different. I no longer wanted to live the lie. To be lukewarm and live proclaiming to be a Christian but not really living like one. I had a burning within my soul to serve God and people, to find God and to really know God. Because, I had made the decision to seek God’s Kingdom first above everything else, He started to change my life. I wanted to serve people and to deny myself. To see people coming into the Kingdom of God and finding Jesus Christ, finding freedom and peace and restoration for their brokenness.
I knew that I was chosen to fulfil God’s plan for my life and not my own. God had stationed me in a specific position to reach people and to share with them what He has done in my life. God has called us to be fishers of men and to live in love with one another. I am a warrior for the Kingdom of God and will stand on His word with my life and all that I am.
I realised God’s plans are better than mine and that He knows more than me.
In 2005 I met Juanné my (then girlfriend) and now my wife. She is a woman who loves God more than me, who is my best friend and the most beautiful woman on earth, someone who was willing to walk a road less travelled and who had a heart for broken people. That’s something I wanted, and God blessed me with her, in abundance.
In our relationship we made tough decisions and set boundaries to keep us pure before marriage and really became best friends. We still reap the rewards, and you can too if you make tough choices and put God first above yourself and your partner. Remember the devil wants to destroy your relationship and that your relationship is the first test of your faith.
Charity starts at home…always!
My rugby career started to soar and I was chosen to play for the Springboks in 2006. My test debut was a nightmare losing 49-0 to Australia and then being dropped from the team. But I got a second chance and then gave a Man of the Match performance against the All Blacks in Rustenburg.
2007 was a World Cup year and the excitement was building. Having had a successful Super 14 with the Bulls which culminated in us winning the title I was anticipating being part of the tournament in France. I was selected in the World Cup squad, and was being touted as a favourite to win the Player of the Tournament by some respected rugby men.
Two weeks after the squad announcement I started to cough up blood, had chest pains and breathing pains. Our team doctor took me for tests and the shocking news hit me.. .I had blood clots on my lungs!
I thought: What? Blood clots? God, you must be joking? We’re on our way to the World Cup? The highlight of my career? I’m walking in your ways God? I live a healthy life, look after my body and train hard and don’t use illegal substances?
Doctors said I had to take a course of blood-thinning medication for a minimum of six months and I was under strict instructions never to play rugby during that period.
Immediately I knew God was in control. I didn’t know exactly how but His word says He has great plans for our futures and that we’ve been healed by his wounds.
I walked in faith and I wrote on a big poster : “Healed in Jesus name” because I knew God had the power to heal me. My faith was tested, but I made a decision to praise God even if I stayed sick or got healed because I knew God’s plan is bigger than mine and I had to submit to His will. It was an unconditional choice, in the same way He loves us unconditionally.
There was alot of medical tests done, from head to toe. I would always put on a praise and worship cd in my car on the way to the hospital, screaming and praising God with a loud voice, knowing that whether my lungs are sick or if they’re healthy, I was going to praise God because HE IS GOOD. You keep with your decision… you keep on keeping on.
Man has limitations, but with God all things are possible.
Then… after the six months of medication a miracle happened. GOD HEALED ME.
Doctors said it was impossible. They said I would never play again. Most people with blood clots never get off the medication, but God is moved by faith and not by belief in world systems. I was able to play rugby again and pursue my career. I got married at the end of 2008 which shows His great love and mercy. He did great work in me and he can do the same for you.
God will fulfil his plan for you if you trust Him. Jesus has used me as an instrument to reach my family and friends and help them change their lives by loving them the way He instructs us to. Through my rugby career I have been honoured to visit many exceptional countries and places and meet wonderful people. Many doors have been opened to me to share His Name and His Love.
My message to you is that God has a plan for your life. He has a passion for YOU. He speaks to you everyday through that small voice inside you. Yes, you probably know it. Once you have decided to follow Him and live for Him, He will do more for you than you ever could have imaged. Take His hand, He will do the rest.