Halftimers Stories

My Halftime Story – by Cassie Carstens

My Halftime Story – by Willie Nel

My Halftime Story – by Cliff & Rose Ratkovich

My Halftime Story - by Jo Kearney

My Halftime Story – by Daleen Kotzé

My Halftime Story – by Chris Crane

Cassie Carsten's Story

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 Regained - Willie Nel's Story

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 - 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.’ ”
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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.

Jo Kearney
PO Box 3064
Somerset West
South Africa

+27 (0)74 207 1721
Skype: jo.kearney007

My Halftime Story – by
Daleen Kotzé

I had a passion for animals since childhood, but due to circumstances never had the opportunity to pursue my dream to work with animals. I trained and worked as a nurse and the last position I held was at a research company. 

For the past 3 years I worked as a volunteer for the South African Veterinary Association's (SAVA) Community Veterinary Clinics (CVC). The CVC has 13 clinics throughout South Africa rendering primary veterinary care to indigent communities. Private veterinarians donate their time and skills to take care of the pets of poor owners. Each pet gets vaccinated, dewormed and dipped or sprayed for the control of external parasites. We promote sterilizations (which is quite a challenging task!). These pets are transported to private veterinary clinics for sterilization and returned the next day.

I attended the Halftime seminar in May 2009 because I didn't feel fulfilled with my life. At the seminar I realized that my passion for animals came from God and that in order to lead a fulfilling life I have to pursue my dream. I prayed a lot and God answered my prayers. In February 2010 I was offered a position at the SAVA as the CVC Coordinator for Gauteng. It was a difficult decision to give up my position as a nurse where I felt safe and worked in a field that was known to me. I realised though that I had to leave my comfort zone and trust God. I also met a wonderful man in June 2009 who gives me al the support I need.

Daleen Kotzé
SAVA CVC Coordinator, Gauteng



Halftime Journey of Chris Crane
as presented Cape Town, RSA October , 2010

What I have learned: Doing ministry and combining business and missions is exciting. Pursuing God’s will is more fulfilling than making money.  However, using your business skills well in Christian ministry takes much effort and, without careful due diligence, may lead you down some dead end roads.

Making the effort is worthwhile. You may well find great fulfillment, and the joy of knowing you are doing what God has called you to do.

Selecting the right ministry for you: If Christian transformation in the field is important to you, do careful due diligence to make sure that the ministry under consideration is actually doing Christian transformation in the field. Many Christian ministries only help people physically and do not minister to their spiritual needs. They may speak a lot about being Christian, and their staff is generally populated by sincere Christians, but they may not manifest that Christianity when they help people. 

Choose ministries that really want you. Be sure you can fit culturally and not be a bull in the China shop—be coachable. Because you were successful in business does not mean you are necessarily spiritually mature or culturally sensitive, especially regarding work overseas.

Be sure that the ministry is not encouraging you to get involved as simply “a donor move”. Ministries know that “giving follows engagement”. Some organizations will say they want your involvement in the field or other areas that relate to your expertise, but what they may really want is your donations and help in raising money from your friends. I think you should do both of these once you have done your due diligence on the ministry and really believe in it. However, some ministries see experienced business people and, especially, entrepreneurs as “rogue executives”. They secretly fear that you will uncover that they are running the organization inefficiently and that you’ll tell other people, especially their Board of Directors, about this.  

One way to determine if the ministry can use your skills is to ask for referrals of other executives who have come alongside the organization and used their business skills.

I encourage you not to just be on boards and advising but get out and do things in the field if you have time. However, there is a great need for highly experienced execs with excellent understanding of governance best practices to serve on boards. Being a very good board member takes a lot of experience and lot of effort.

The vision of my organization is to scale up Edify.org with Half/Timers (Clapham Circle/Pres Council) faster than otherwise would ever be possible.

It’s not about a particular organization but how God wishes you to get involved in His work around the world.

Is the Organization excited that you might start your own ministry later and not threatened by this possibility?  Does the ministry embrace the possibility that God’s Kingdom may be expanded by you choosing to do something else in another ministry? I saw one ministry decide that having high capacity volunteers was not good because some started up their own ministry.

Seek organizations that will hold on to you loosely and not think that they “own” you and are jealous of other organizations getting your attention. Seek ministries that want God’s will for your life, and if it is not their organization, then they are happy to help you find one that is right for you.

Be sure to involve your spouse early and only go forth with major decisions in which she is fully supportive. Do a lot of praying together

Disappointments you can expect: You will come up with a great idea for the ministry, and the ministry will simply not have the resources to implement your great idea. Remember how in your business you had far more good ideas than you could ever implement. I encourage you to recommend your great idea to the ministry, just be aware that your great idea may be ranked number 42 among all their great ideas, and they only have time to pursue the top five.

Some people will tell you what you want to hear and not the truth. This especially happens in the field. This can also happen with fundraising staff who say certain things are happening in the field or that your involvement will be welcomed in the field, but this will not be the case when you get to the field. If you want to be involved in the field, be sure to get the senior staff managing the field to say that they welcome you to be involved in the way you wish to be.

You may go overseas and quickly identify steps that would make things more efficient. However, the local culture cannot or will not embrace those changes.

While overseas, you may donate money for certain projects, get everyone’s agreement on how the project should be done and agree on a timeline for completion. However, when you come back several months later, little has been done. This might occur despite the fact that you got reports during the several months that good progress was being made. You may have to have someone reliable, perhaps an ex-pat, that will look in on the project from time to time and give you an accurate report.

The organization will see your expertise, sincerely intend to implement your recommendations and invite you to work in the field. However, when they see your recommendations and realize how much work it would be to implement them, they will realize that they do not have the manpower to effectively implement. I encourage you not to be disappointed but rather see if there is another way you can help or scale back your recommendations to the one or two ideas that can have significant impact and require little manpower and money.

Hang in there. Make reasonable efforts to find a way to help this organization. If this organization is simply not a fit for your expertise, find another organization. Ask other Half/Timers for referrals to organizations that will welcome you. 

The most excellent way: Come in with a vision, come in with the funding to achieve that vision, come in with people with relevant expertise, fund the organization to hire field staff who can implement the vision, dedicate much of your time to advise and oversee and pray a lot. You will likely have a success.

There will be sacrifices: When I was deciding between entering full-time Christian work or running a business again, I had a chance to buy a company. I had the funds to do this is result of the sale of my prior company. I could also have chosen to be a significant investor in the company and been an active chairman.

The company was in the same industry as the company that I had built up and sold. The company was involved in environmental information and not real estate information, so it was no conflict with my no-compete agreement resulting from the sale of the company.

The challenges in this company were very similar to the ones I faced in my company. In fact, I had solved in my company several of the big problems that this company was now facing. I decided not to be involved with the company so I could focus fully on my new ministry role.  I referred the company to venture capitalists who gave me small referral fee in stock.

Four days ago I received news that the company will be sold shortly.  The magnitude of the offers astounded me. Had I bought the company, I would have increased my net worth many times.

When I first heard of the likely sale price, I felt like I’d been punched in the stomach. I felt as though I had missed such a great opportunity to become wealthier, to be held in higher esteem by my peers as a result of a much greater success, and to have had more resources to give to deserving Christian ministries.

Although I will receive a nice benefit from the referral fee, which was in stock, had I bought the company I would have very significant wealth.

I was in turmoil all day over thinking about this “missed opportunity. I realized that the company may not have grown as it had under my leadership. I also realized that it may have grown to be larger and even more valuable given my specific experience and prior success in the field.

Before going to bed that night, as is my custom, I read the word of God. A wonderful peace came to me. The Lord seemed to convey to me that it was not His will for me to have bought that company. Rather, He wanted me to get the experience I had received in Christian humanitarian work these last eight years.

It seemed that He was showing me that there already were a lot of successful Christian entrepreneurs who are donating money, but very few that were using those entrepreneurship and business skills directly ministering to the poor full-time.

I sensed the Lord reminding me of what I believe He has told me––that this vision of microfinance loans to low-cost Christian schools is the greatest opportunity for profound, long lasting transformation in the developing world.

I think my peace resulted from feeling that I am in the center of God’s will; that I am doing exactly what God has called me to do, and that it will have great impact if I’m faithful.

I got down on my knees and thanked God for this peace that he had given me.

I thought of what my friend, Paul, told me just a couple weeks ago. He is successful and has a multimillion-dollar home, but not over-the-top. He and his wife built this home and designed it so they could hold ministry events in the home. They do this regularly and are really having an impact.

Paul said to me that he was thankful that the Lord had not given him great wealth. He went on to say that great wealth might have interfered with his serving the Lord. Great wealth may have tempted him with toys such as more vacation houses (he already has one very nice vacation house) and a big boat with a crew to worry about and a plane with pilots as employees to worry about.

As he said this, immediately to mind came some friends of mine who had been very successful financially. They had multiple homes and exciting trips all the time. However, taking care of these homes consumed much of their and their wives’ time. And then there were the large boats they had, but someone else always had a larger boat. So my friends often had a larger boat on order. Likewise, they had nice private jets, but someone else always had bigger and better private jets, so they often have a new jet on order. Their lives were consumed with things. The old adage–“the more things you own, the more things that own you” so aptly applied. These men had significant talents that could have been deployed to expand God’s kingdom. Unfortunately, I saw little fruit in their lives as they earnestly pursued the next great experience, the next cool thing, and the next opportunity to impress their friends. I felt sadness for them.

I was reminded of the parable of the sower. “And the seed sown among thorns represents the people who hear the message and go on their way, and with the worries and riches and pleasures of living, the life is choked out of them, and in the end they produce nothing. ” This easily could have happened to me. I still worry sometimes that the things that I already own are choking too much in my life even now.  I so much wish to be like–“the seed sown on good soil means the men who hear the message and grasp it with a good and honest heart, and go on steadily producing a good crop.” (Luke 8:14–15  JB Phillips translation)

 “I am the vine itself, you are the branches. It is the man who shares my life and whose life I share who proves fruitful. For apart from me you can do nothing at all. The man who does not share my life is like a branch that is broken off and withers away… This is how my father will be glorified–in your becoming fruitful and being my disciples.” John 15:5–7

Lloyd Reeb captured a great quote in his book, The Second Half—“This is what Dale Dawson said about the Bishop [from Rwanda]. ‘I knew he was very special from that one evening. He was a different kind of a guy.… he was just as entrepreneurial and just as driven, just as goal oriented as any entrepreneur I've ever met, yet he was working for Jesus. He wasn't working to increase his net worth. I was intrigued and drawn and attracted to his passion and purity of his motivation” 

“Dale began reevaluating his definition of success. ‘I began to think in terms of how would Jesus define success? That was a new idea for me, to look at the way Jesus lived his life.… It had nothing to do with power. It had nothing to do with money. It had nothing to do with affluence or wealth. It had to do with love. It had to do with service to others. It had to do with using your life skills for somebody else, and not for yourself. Those were all a different way to define success for me.”

Jeff Rutt was running his business when he started Hope International. By being an active chair and hiring good CEOs, Hope International has experienced tremendous growth in only 13 years. This great ministry now helps 225,000 impoverished people with microfinance loans in some of the most difficult environments in the world.

Solomon was the richest and most brilliant man who ever lived. However, at the end of his life, all appeared to him to be futile. Every thing that we seek after, no matter how great it appears, will be empty without God.

The conclusion of the book of Ecclesiastes is to fear God. Everything has meaning if focused on God and His calling on your life.

Conclusion: I encourage you to embark on this wonderful Half/Time journey. As Pastor Rick Warren said in the first sentence of his book Purpose Driven Life,  “It is not about you”. It is about serving others; it is about serving God.

Pray about where the Lord would have you use your skills, get advice, talk to Half/Time, do careful due diligence, do low-cost probes with several ministries. Be determined to overcome any disappointments. Press forward to the joy of being in God’s will and service.

I feel closest to God when I’m serving His beloved poor in the developing world. I pray that the Lord will show you where you will find your greatest joy in serving.



Christopher A. Crane