Long Before We Could Afford It God Showed Me The Building To Buy

The front of the building at 169 Umhlanga Rocks Drive.

It Never Occurred To Me
That “Here”
Meant This Very Spot


In 1976 I made a survey trip to Durban. It was an exciting time. I had been to Durban before (1970) and connected with a few people but had paid no attention to detail. At the time I wasn’t looking for a place to start a church.

For this second visit, however, things were different. I was seriously making plans to start a church in Durban. I wouldn’t be starting right away but I had the opportunity to visit and thought it would be wise to take it.

I arrived late afternoon the first day and I spent the first night with an acquaintance I had made previously. In the morning I got up, went through the usual morning routine: coffee, devotions, breakfast etc., and headed out. The house was located on the side of a hill, so as I drove out of the driveway I was faced with my first choice: turn left and drive up the hill or turn right and drive down. “Up” is always a good direction so, left it was and up the hill I drove.

I drove about 500 yards before reaching the top of the hill and dead-ending into a main thoroughfare (Umhlanga Rocks Drive) that runs from a northern suburb of Durban to the next major city, Umhlanga Rocks. It’s approximately 12 miles long and provides easy access to many areas between these two cities. It is always very busy and all the buildings along this road are highly visible. I didn’t know these facts at the time but I’m very aware of them today.

I also didn’t know that in 30 years time business developments along that road would become the biggest and fastest developments in the world. God knew this. I didn’t.

However, as I approached the top of the hill and came to a stop, the Lord spoke to my heart as clearly as He ever had. I got the distinct impression that He wanted a church HERE A prominent location on a main raod.and my interpretation of that message was, “I am on the right track.” It was confirmation that I had understood God’s call correctly and it represented another significant moment of His leadership in my life. Looking back, I don’t think I understood His meaning entirely.

At the time, I didn’t get the impression that God wanted a church in that exact spot. I didn’t associate “here” with that particular intersection. I took that prompting to mean I was in the right place generally. I don’t remember much else about that trip other than driving around on streets I’d never seen before and visiting places I had never been.

Moving ahead many years, we have now been in Durban a long time. I have passed that memorable intersection almost daily but never associated it with anything specific about God’s plan other than it was the location God gave me reassurance that I was in the right area.

Even after buying the very building that sits right across from that specific stop street seven years ago, I still didn’t connect it with God’s nudging. Only recently did it occur to me that God was showing me the very building He wanted us to buy many years before we could afford it. In fact, many years before I arrived in Durban. It was like the penny had finally dropped.

Now, please understand that there was nothing about this building that would lead anyone to believe it was available for any purpose. The building we bought (the oldest building in the area – built in 1932) was occupied and hemmed in by store front shops on one side and almost shared a wall with a house on the other. The gap was maybe 6 inches. Beyond this it was was completely encompassed by layers of houses or roads. There was no open land, no buildings for sale and no room to work in between.

I couldn’t see it then and it took me a long time to figure it out eventually, but when the building became available, the high visibility and easy accessibility made the decision to buy a no-brainer. Now, looking back, I realize God had planned this a long time ago. He even made an effort to point it out and I wasn’t believing enough to see it even when we bought the building.

I will say, though, that the fact that God knew this in advance makes it very special.

Please pray for this project. It’s a part of God’s plan. We will restart the building shortly and with God’s blessings – I know He wants this to happen – we will be in the building soon.

March 2013 Prayer Letter


  1. Ennis Pepper says:

    If anyone experiences glitches or problems with the site don’t hesitate to let me know. There is always the possibility of teething problems with new technology and I will address them immediately once I know about them.

    Thanks for working with me on this project.

  2. John W. Watts says:

    I like it. God’s blessings on the new website. I’m sure you will get through any glitches. Almost lost Brenda last week. Profuse bleeding from ulcers we did not even know she had. Got her to the hospital just in time … vomiting copious amounts of blood … needed four units of blood to bring her back to normal … got her into an endoscopy and they were able to stop the bleeding blood vessel in her stomach witch laser cauterization and “clips.” She is doing much better now but may still need to have surgery later. Keep her in your prayers. Have my hands full with her and Ellie and Nanny and teaching my age 55 plus SS Class each week. Keeps me busy. Had another left heart cath about a month ago and heart arteries are narrowing … some scarring around the LAD stent put in last August but noting severe enough to be worrisome yet. One foot in front of the other with a prayer each day. God is good all the time. Love you guys.

  3. Ennis Pepper says:

    Wow, we are sorry to hear about Brenda’s ulcer but very glad she is on the mend. Not too worry on the prayer. We still pray for you both everyday and now that I know how busy you are I understand how much you need it.

    Sounds like you’re carrying quite a load. Keep us posted. We love you guys too.

  4. Parker says:

    Brother Ennis,

    I love your new site! even more so … I would love to receive email notifications of newly written letters.
    I think by checking the box on the bottom this will happen, correct?

    In Christ,

    Parker Brigance
    University Baptist Church

  5. Ennis Pepper says:

    Thanks for the visit and the complimentary comment!

    Yes, if you checked “Notify me of new posts by email” you will be notified every time a letter is posted.

    All the best.

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