Des Cramer is the pastor of Coastal Bible Church in scenic Muizenberg, a well-known beach area in Cape Town, South Africa. The people Des is pursuing with the Gospel range from highly affluent on the mountainside to deep poverty in the flats. The area is also very multi-cultural due to many immigrants from several African nations.
Testimony of Salvation
I grew up in a home where my mother was a believer – a concerned, praying believer. Always telling us the gospel and praying for our souls. I was a traditional Christian, there never was another belief system for me. I was ok! It was a system that I could take comfort in when things went wrong and boy, did things often go wrong!
Michelle was really struggling with me in our marriage. I was the consummate party animal, the life of the party, there never was any limit. We were headed straight down the road to divorce. Then came a time when the kids in our valley were exploring all sorts of bad things. I figured we should get our teenage kids involved with the church, where all the good morals were.
Well, I filled out the visitor’s card at a church, and the next day we had two older ladies visit our home. Michelle was all over them with her belief system and they left more confused than when they came. The next day, the pastor of the church called and basically instructed us to attend a course at his home. I tagged along and eventually was convinced! I say convinced, because at the time I felt this way. I went away and mumbled all sorts of denying statements to Michelle on the way home. In hindsight I realise that God had used a flawed tool to draw me close!
Later that evening at home, I was so overwhelmed by guilt, not only toward God, but toward my family and my life in general. I guess, in my own ignorant way, God was busy shaking me out of everything I regarded as normal. In the quiet of our bedroom I prayed for the first time personally, for quite some time, for God to intervene. I really felt better and the guilt even subsided. I, however kept being convicted of how rotten I was, how capable of wicked things I was, how unworthy I was. A week or two later Michelle and I were led to faith at the course. God saved us both and our lives have changed forever! What a privilege, to be drawn to faith, to serve a Sovereign God.
Call to Ministry
So, over the next number of years, I was busy in the church, witnessing at work, and studying the Word. I started having this urgent burden for preaching to the lost and wanting them to know the same Savior that I do. I really am not very well schooled, but what I know, I tell! The church signed me up for the ‘Pastor’s Class,’ which is a 3-year in-house class for prospective leaders.
This course spurred me to a hunger for the Word, to dig and delve deep in the Scriptures. I was used by the church on mission trips and outreaches, and I was invited to preach at many Baptist meetings, even out of town! I was mentored by my pastor and taught some practical sermon construction. Every sermon I prepared, he scrutinized before he allowed me loose. I sometimes went up-country with 5 prepared, scrutinized sermons to preach in some out of the way towns. Never in my wildest dreams would I ever even have imagined myself in a church, never mind a pulpit!
I became so consumed by the Word and serving God, that I needed to check myself more and more. I was so burdened for sharing Truth. Then the elders told me that they are recognizing God’s call upon my life. The church elders wanted to send me to Baptist Seminary, and they were willing to pay for my studies, but only my studies. I have a family to take care of, they are my first ministry. I declined the offer and was totally miserable. Meanwhile, I continued ministering in the Northern Cape for the church, whilst also tent-making in my own business, although I was more in ministry than at work. Fortunately I had good staff.
I was preaching regularly, wherever I was sent, and eventually was asked by the church to plant a church in Capricorn. This church is now an accredited Baptist church. I then received an offer to study at Bible Institute of South Africa in the evenings through their Christian Leadership Programme. I grabbed at it! Well, here I was introduced to Reformed Theology and all I had learned thus far, needed to be revisited and scrutinized under a new magnifying glass.
Much water has run under this bridge and I cannot, nor will not, at any cost, stop ministering. I am persuaded that I am called to ministry. I am burdened to teach the Word of God to others, whether in the church environment or to other leaders. Since graduating from the Bible Institute in 2007, I have been invited to teach pastors in their Christian Leadership Programme, which I am excited to have been doing to date.
I have, by God’s grace, planted two churches to date and, by His will, shall continue to do so, until I can no longer.