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Will I leave a Legacy?

My Halftime Story by Cassie Carstens

 

Everything was as good as you can get! I was heading a youth ministry organization with 100 000 members. My staff were committed and efficient. I was 43 and had reached the pinnacle of my dreams for ministry...and then suddenly one morning, strange and disturbing questions took hold of my mind: Is this it? Is this what God has created me for? Is there not maybe something more? Do I want to do this for the rest of my life? Is this the ultimate way in which I can serve the Kingdom? What has God really prepared me for throughout the first half of my life that He can now bring to fruition in a real way - that will leave a legacy?

I prayed...and prayed...and had the inkling that I should get more intentionally involved in leadership development! Starting out on my Halftime journey, in an effort to find clarity through the maize, God did a few significant things to set me on course.

Five exposing experiences helped me to make the turn:
Firstly God started the discovery through a miraculous intervention. I got the book Halftime from a friend in the Bahamas. At the very same time a close friend of mine was given the book in Namibia. We were on our way to a leadership centre in the US. Unbeknown to both of us, we both read the same book en route to this meeting. What are the chances of this happening! It was there that we made a promise to God and each other that we would start leadership schools.

The Halftime book told my story and directed me to my game plan for second half. I phoned Bob Buford shortly after this discovery. He sent me the training manual and videos and encouraged me to start Halftime seminars in South Africa. We have now been doing this for 12 years and have seen amazing results!

Secondly I took time out! For three months I travelled the world with my family. We served in Kolkata India, we toured in a camper in Europe and we travelled through the USA. The space I created for myself through this helped tremendously to distinguish between good things and the right things. The exposure in Kolkata, in the home for the dying, left indelible impressions and invited me into a world I never knew!

Thirdly I was impacted by getting involved in a local township (slum area). God showed me His heart for the poor and showed me my own heart so filled with pride. He invited me to enter His heart by serving the poor.

Fourthly I was impacted by a visit to a refugee camp in Tanzania. Seeing the stark reality of the orphaned and fatherless continent of Africa, I knew I had to do something to impact the continent.

The fifth thing that really helped me to find new meaning was when we adopted a 15 year old orphan girl - one of the millions in Africa. The night she called me Daddy for the first time set me on a journey of rediscovering God! The Halftime movement has helped me to find my 'sweet spot' in the Kingdom, which is to train transformational leaders. 12 years ago I started a leadership school and since then we have trained leaders from 105 countries. This leadership movement is currently training 20 000 leaders per year across 150 countries of the world.

God never stops rekindling new passion for His Kingdom in my life. I now commit my life to helping churches across the world to become change agents of society and to help fathers to fulfill their God-given role in and beyond families in order to restore a fatherless world.  

 

Paradise Regaine

My Halftime Story by Willie Nel


Two dams on his farm Moolmanshoek epitomise Willie Nel’s life. At 51 he felt empty. He questioned everything he had built up till then. The land on his farm had become overexploited because of incorrect farming practices.

He shared his emptiness and despair with Cassie Carstens who was visiting the community church. To his surprise and almost disgust, Cassie’s reaction was a deep belly-laugh. “You are smack in the middle of a big fat halftime!” was his comment. Then came the journey of discovery.

Looking at the dams on his farm, Willie came to the following conclusion: The first dam represented what life often becomes. In times of difficulty it lies empty and dry, smarting for rain. Just 600 m away lies a dam fed by its own source giving a steady stream of cool clear water irrespective of the season. The water was always sparkling due to the reeds sifting out any impurities.

To Willie the second dam was how his life should be or could be if he turned his focus to what God wanted him to do. His spiritual experience became realised in his everyday life.

“While I was suffering under the dark clouds of disenchantment with farming conditions, the way things were happening in the country and disappointment in previously held belief systems, a tiny sunbeam began to appear”. 

As the rays of the sun engulfed his thinking, he became convinced that the changes he had to effect, would reach out to the whole of Africa. The skills he had acquired and were to acquire, would be ploughed back into his new venture and so started a deep and absolute commitment to development in Africa.

He realised that as his farm was situated on marginal land, it should never have been cultivated. Eden had been destroyed, but his calling was now to heal and restore the land. Paradise must be regained. To this end, Willie did everything to find out how this could be attained. He went to America to ascertain how the turnabout could take place.

In the process of reclaiming more than 1000 ha, he came to a further conclusion that in farming and business there is a bottom line, which is inevitably profit. In this new project, there had to be a triple bottom line, not only profit, but people and nature as well. All three had to benefit to make this effort worthwhile.

So the reed dam in Willie’s soul continued to sprout new and workable ideas, like the farm being turned into a game park. Farmers and visitors from all over the world, particularly from Africa, come to Moolmanshoek to learn and be inspired from Willie's vision and everyone shares in this humble man’s awe-inspiring drive. The source of his vision is his great faith and gratitude to God who opened his eyes through the meeting with Cassie at Halftime. The restlessness that he suffered before this awakened him to the fact that he had reached halftime in his own life and made him take stock of his life. It took grave discontent to open his mind to the vast potential around him.

Now Moolmanshoek is not only visited by farmers and people eager to see what can be done in reclaiming land, but also tourists from all over the world come to experience the restored Eden. “What particularly triggered me,” says Willie, “ is that I have a son to whom I have to pass the stick in the relay of life but I couldn’t do it as things were. The race we are running, is being run on a new course and old rules and principles do not apply. I had to become a trail-blazer to set an example and show the new way”. 

 

A Joint Partnership

Our Halftime Story by Cliff & Rose Ratkovich

Tapestry Homes, addresses inadequate housing in the slums of foreign countries. In squatter communities around the world, families live in oneroom homes with mud floors and walls pieced together with scraps of wood, plastic, corrugated metal and street signs. The fire-prone shanty houses stand inches from each other in places like Kayamandi, Stellenbosch, where 30,000 people live within a small area.

Tapestry’s original plan called for buying land near squatter communities, building pre-manufactured homes and moving families.

“We quickly learned that in the midst of this chaotic life experience … there is tremendous community and interdependence,” Cliff says. “You might have a family here and the mother, if she is still living, because unfortunately most people are dying of AIDS, needs to run an errand or go to work, and so her children need to be taken care of by her neighbor while she is away. To take people out of their community would be wrong.”

The availability and cost of land also made relocation plans difficult, so Tapestry Homes switched to a “shack replacement” strategy. In one day, they can take out an existing shack and replace it with a home that is elevated off the ground and has insulated, fire-resistant panels for walls.

“That’s what distinguishes Tapestry Homes from other housing relief organizations,” Cliff says. “We’re not pulling them out of the community, and we’re much more than just relief housing. We’re building housing that will endure for a number of years, but make an eternal difference.” The organization eventually wants to start an in-country manufacturing plant that will provide jobs while building the components of the homes. As the vision expands, of course, so do the challenges. But those faith-stretching challenges make the rewards of helping others all the sweeter.

“It gives you more energy to go on,” Rose says. “For me, it strengthens my faith and confirms that we’re doing the right thing, that we’re going down the right path. While there are hiccups along the way, this is the path we’re supposed to be on because it’s those little signs that say, ‘Keep going, keep going. You’re going to help another person. Keep going.’ ”

 

From Success to Significance

My Halftime Story by Jo Kearney

The Preparation: “Good morning ladies and gentleman, this is Captain Hendrik Jansen, welcome on board Nationwide flight MN100 to Johannesburg…”, the captains voice faded in my mind as I settled into my chair in preparation for the two hour flight ahead. I reached into my briefcase for the book that had drawn me, like a moth to a flame, as I walked past the Exclusive Books bookshop en route to boarding my plane. As an avid reader and a compulsive book buyer I usually find myself drawn to self development books that stretch the imagination, broaden my knowledge and skills base, however today the title of “From Success to Significance” captured my attention.


There I was, mid-April of 2004, 41 years of age, a fairly successful Independent Financial Advisor on my way to Johannesburg to visit my friend Terence for a well deserved weekend break. After recovering from my first bankruptcy in 1993, I had spent the past 9-10 years working very hard long hours, Saturdays and yes, even Sundays, to build up my financial practice. I prided myself in being a “Financial Fitness Coach” to my well established client base. Never again did I want to go through the humiliation of having the Sherriff of the court loading up all my belongings and leaving me like a squatter in a rented apartment. I had a great support team - a very dynamic PA and two accomplished secretaries who ensured that my diary was always booked up and the dollars always rolling in.
The First Call: On my flight back I finished reading the Halftime book and was overcome by this deep sensation of ‘dis-ease’, a feeling of intense hollowness and emptiness. This feeling lingered for a week or two, but eventually my diary filled up again, my pace picked up and the book became a memory that a merely visited from time-to-time. In retrospect I realize that God was trying to get my attention way back then already, but I failed to head the call. I was too busy with busyness, creating, accomplishing, impressing and gathering “stuff” to take the call serious.


Introduction of Bottle Craft: In February 2005 I was sitting with one of the boys from a local Children’s Home, whom I was mentoring, at a coffee shop when I noticed a very interesting gentleman at an adjacent table. I introduced myself to him and within a matter of weeks I became the owner of the Bottle Cutting Kit concept. The concept was based on a ‘gadget’ that enabled one to successfully cut a bottle and modify it to become a functional tumbler, a goblet or a funky work of art. I then began manufacturing these kits and selling them on-line to crafters and hobbyists. In June 2005, one of my crafters invited me to attend a business expo in Durban, where it dawned on me that this Bottle Cutting kit was also a fantastic way for a Home-Based-Business-Owner to turn Trash-into-Cash or Waste-into-Wealth. I then continued to develop and market the kit as the Business-in-a-Box Bottle Cutting Kit.


My Tipping Point: During the last few months of 2005 both my secretaries resigned in short succession and in November of the same year, after some irregularities at the office I was left with no choice but to fire my PA as well as my accountant. Needless to say, while all my family and friends spent their time on Ho-Ho-Ho, having a happy Christmas holiday, I spent my entire December and January trying to reorganize my administration and get my accounting in to order. Everything seemed to be in such a mess and to add insult to injury I had the Receiver of Revenue breathing down my back for a list of outstanding tax returns which I somehow could not find of calculate. Eventually late one evening while sitting, struggling to make head or tail, I just burst into tears, exasperated, tired, fed-up, I called unto God crying “God…there MUST be more to life than this”. I desperately wanted OUT! I spent the next few days in desperate prayer asking God for direction. It was during this time that I re-read the Halftime book which helped me get clarity for what I needed to do. I realized that for the past few years, everything that I had been doing was all about ME and what I wanted to achieve and accumulate. Very little that I was doing had to do with being significant. I eventually got the answer…YES, I could go ahead to sell my practice and focus full-time on Skills Development and Community Upliftment using the Bottle Craft business opportunity as a medium. I was so desperate to “get out” that I failed to consult with God on the “How to” part! Within a matter of months I had found a suitable buyer and concluded what I considered a fair deal. However, very soon it came to light that I had indeed not selected the right buyer and that our contract was indeed not very efficient. Instead of getting more that R600 000 over an 18 month period I ended up receiving only R114 000 over a 6 month period.

 

The Valley: This turn of events eventually lead to my second bankruptcy early in 2007, as I was unable to sustain the lifestyle that I had become accustomed to. Once again my home and car was reposed, however due to some caution of putting a number of Trusts in place, very little else of my belongings were affected. God clearly was in need of a humble and obedient servant! Over the next two years, 2008-2009, I hope to confess that I have progressed through a rather radical growth process, where I have been stripped bare of false pride, arrogance and brought into a personal space where I am more useful and ready for the true calling God had intended for me. Under guidance of the Holy Spirit I have had to revisit some of my values such as diligence, discipline and integrity, to mention but a few. I have been humbled by having to choose to sell all my possessions in order to survive. I now live, virtually in a corner of my Bottle Craft workshop. Despite the discomfort and intense humbleness, I have never felt more purposeful in my life than now.

 

The Second Calling: Once again I cried of to my loving Father and this time He brought relief in the form of a contract with the Elgin Learning Foundation (ELF), based in Grabouw. ELF is a Community College, created by the Gerald Wright Trust to develop and create opportunities for the community of Grabouw. Over the past 6 months I have been involved in developing a number of community entrepreneurs by facilitating them through the New Venture Creation program, funded by MerSeta. During this time I have further developed my Bottle Craft business to a point where we are on the point of rolling out a network of Community-Based, Licensed Bottle Craft workshops that are able to create self-employment opportunities for hundreds of marginalized community members. I believe that God is in the process of aligning me with the right opportunities and the suitable partners to help realize this great vision that he has blessed me with. It is such an empowering experience to realize that I am living my ‘true purpose’ in life and that I am busy with my God-given assignment, that of bringing His amazing love, knowledge and wisdom to His children in dire need. It is amazing how one perception of success changes when one realizes the importance of significance.

 

The Halftime Organization: I feel that God has blessed me with a fair amount of experience, knowledge and wisdom that could be a great blessing to others entering their second halves. It would be a privilege to extend my significance by serving as a Halftime Coach to assist and help align searching folks with their true purpose and assignment in life.

 
 
 
       

"Life is a great big canvas, and you should throw all the paint on it you can."

-  Danny Kaye -

       
 
 
     

 

Tommy O'Kennedy
Halftime SA
17 Mark Street
Porterville
6810

e-mail:
tommy@halftimesa.co.za

 

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