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10-year quest to meet God culminates in a father’s love, confession,

COCHRANE, Alberta, Canada (BP)–At 19, Hermann Brandt had his final conversation with God. Or so he thought. “God, I’ve tried Christianity and it doesn’t work. If you want me, you come to me,” he prayed.
Brandt, now 33, grew up in a minister’s home in South Africa. He tried to live the Christian life but knew he was a hypocrite. “I felt like a liar. I finally got brave enough to say, ‘I’m going to stop trying.’ I felt enormously relieved! I no longer needed to perform and pretend.”
That was the beginning of a 10-year quest during which Brandt threw himself with unbridled passion into everything the world had to offer. He still dropped in at church occasionally, but by the time he was 24, church and everything that goes with it were no longer part of his life. “I let my fleshly desires rule. It was easy and exciting and momentarily fulfilling,” Brandt said. “I was suddenly one of the guys for the first time in my life and I spent time drinking and socializing.”
Brandt eventually found this life was just as empty as the one he had rejected.
“I had a hollow feeling in the pit of my stomach after spending the night in the pub with my drinking buddies,” he said. “I knew this was not where it’s at either, but I kept on for years.”
Meanwhile, Brandt’s wife, Wilmien, quietly pursued her relationship with God, remaining faithful in prayer, submitting to her husband and never retaliating no matter how bad things got.
“I quit church altogether but Wilmien stayed faithful to the Lord — stayed rock-solid. I wanted to corrupt Wilmien, to pull her down to my level. Deep down I knew there IS a God. I knew Wilmien knew him. I had an incredible desire in my heart to really know him too … but everything she did ticked me off! She loved Christian radio. I hated it. She went to church and took our son, Carl, against my wishes.”
For 10 years, through many moves and the loss of more than one of her husband’s businesses, Wilmien remained faithful. Finally, the Brandts emigrated to Camden, Ala. Wilmien, an occupational therapist, was under contract and had a work visa. Brandt was Mr. Mom, caring for the house and 6-year-old Carl.
“Carl was the brightest spot in my life,” Brandt said. “I was overwhelmed by him. There was a tremendous link between us from the very beginning.”
God used fatherhood to keep the marriage together. Several times over the years, Brandt threatened to leave. “But the Lord would cause Carl to walk right into the middle of my situation. I felt the desperation of a little boy growing up without a dad. Then I could not leave.”
Both Brandts were dissatisfied with the marriage. “We didn’t meet each other at the same level on all fronts. Wilmien had God to meet her needs. I did not. I sought elsewhere for fulfillment.”
Brandt, a wildlife artist and graphic designer, was also a professional hunter. He began to look for American clients to take on safari in South Africa as a new business venture. His wife, fearing abandonment in a foreign country, was desperate.
Then her husband stayed in bed for five full days, refusing to speak, and she feared the worst. But late on the fifth night he asked her to sit down for a talk. His words could not have been more shocking to a woman who thought her husband might be contemplating divorce.
“Wilmien,” he began, “the other day the Lord came to me and he changed my life. He told me I must commit myself to you 100 percent. And that’s what I’m doing now.”
They embraced, weeping, both sensing God’s powerful presence. Then Brandt told his wife this incredible story:
While listening to a business presentation in a nearby city, Brandt heard an inner voice: “Hermann, I love you just like you love your little boy. This much I love you but so much more!” He knew it was the voice of God. It continued: “Everything you are looking for — joy, peace, fulfillment — you’ll find in me. But I want one thing. You must be righteous.”
He instantly responded, “Lord, if that’s what you’re giving, that’s what I want.”
At that moment, it was as though the heavy stone doors of a dungeon were flung open, flooding the interior with the light of day, Brandt said.
“In my mind’s eye, I saw a face, smiling at me.” Brandt left the meeting and drove home. He said he’d felt as if Jesus was sitting beside him in the car, bringing up his sins. As each sin was revealed, Brandt said, “I confess it.” For three hours, he confessed and was forgiven. When he arrived home, although completely drained, he was a new man. He went to bed and stayed there for five days, afraid to speak, wondering if he would ever recover.
Satan tormented him day and night, trying to convince him he had only imagined it, that it never happened, that God was a lie. He prayed one prayer a thousand times: “Lord, give me peace!”
On the fifth day, Brandt found his wife’s Bible and opened it randomly to Luke 19:41 and began to read: “If you, even you, had only recognized on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes … because you did not recognize the time of your visitation from God.”
Jumping to his feet, he shouted, “So it was you!” At that moment Satan left him, Brandt said. He continued to read the Bible as God spoke to his spirit.
Suddenly Brandt remembered telling God 10 years earlier that if he wanted him, he would have to come after him. And so he had.
“When I look at God, I understand grace,” Brandt said. “I don’t deserve anything. God is God and I am nothing and I just love him to death. I would die for him. Today.”
As a first-year seminary student at the Canadian Baptist Seminary in Cochrane, Alberta, Brandt reflected on his marriage now. “I never imagined marriage could be so good. I never saw Wilmien for who she was — she’s precious!”

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  • Connie Cavanaugh