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Sanei: a life story

Family

We are thankful for our loving wife, mother and grandmother. She has poured out her love into our hearts, modelling God’s love for us. On countless occasions, God’s working in us was a direct result of her trusting God and praying for us. Being passionate about family, she pursued time with each of us as well as time for the family together. As a family, we fondly remember all the wonderful moments we had with her.

Family at Morgans Bay – Dec 2022

Walk with God

Sanei grew up on Karreefontein, a family farm in the Free State. Her mom did not fare well with farm life, which was mundane in comparison to the schedule she maintained previously as a nurse. Her mom struggled with depression and alcoholism, which led to her suicide in the farmhouse when Sanei was only five. Sanei clearly remembers crying out to God while her mom was passing.

Her dad remarried. The new wife had love and affection for her own kids that joined the family, but quite the opposite for Sanei and her siblings. During her first year at university in Bloemfontein, her dad passed away from a heart condition. This led Sanei to question the purpose of life, and what happens when we die. Hannetjie, her sister, was sure of her relationship with God through this ordeal and shared this with Sanei. At that time Sanei did not feel the same way.

Sanei was no longer welcome at home after her dad passed and did not have much contact with her extended family while studying. This suited her as she thrived on being independent. While doing radiography as an intern at two hospitals in Bethlehem (FS), she attended a Hospital Christian Fellowship meeting. Listening to the matron discussing 1 John 1:8-9, Sanei realized that she believed God existed but did not know Him and needed Him for her salvation. Upon sharing with the Matron her decision to follow Christ, the matron suggested she share what God was doing in her life with patients at the hospital, which she did the following day.

God’s work in her resulted in changes that were apparent. Upon returning to Bloemfontein and her studies, doctors at the student hospital were curious to know what happened, noticing these changes. She started going to church and attending meetings. At the end of her two-year university diploma, she felt God calling her to serve Him full-time rather than pursuing work in radiography (Is 6:8-9).

She arranged to go to bible school at the African Evangelistic Band (AEB). Being very independent, she liked doing things her way. As a result, bible school with its extensive list of rules was a challenge. Upon arrival, she learnt about the stringent dress code, which was not compatible with her wardrobe. And makeup was forbidden. Her aunt Cilla van Wyk in Cape Town came to her assistance for suitable clothes. While Aunt Cilla’s husband, Boet, commented that she would not last two weeks at bible school, knowing her independent rebellious spirit. Two years at AEB taught her to let go of at least some of her more rebellious side.

Sanei met Willie at AEB where they felt God’s nudging that they were meant for each other. They got engaged in the mountains, family and friends pitched in for the engagement ring, and got married shortly after (March 18, 1974). After moving to Johannesburg, Willie started working at the bank and Sanei worked at Discovery Hospital in Roodepoort. Upon learning of Campus Crusade for Christ (CCC), they both felt the call to serve God full-time at CCC. Sanei loved a challenge and felt that serving God was a worthy challenge and the best way to enjoy life.

CCC was refreshing compared to AEB with its “external” rules instilling as foundation being filled with God’s Spirit to work in and through you. The fruit of God working through staff was apparent through discipleship and training.

Sanei served God with Willie at CCC from August of 1975. During their years of service, they saw many lives changed through outreach, personal discipleship and training. Training and outreach through seminars were instrumental in reaching many, several of whom are longtime friends and fellow followers of God. She is thankful for the opportunity to have started two ministries, Mothers Who Care and Crossroads, which have grown and flourished under her care, and continued to do so after she passed on the reigns to others. As part of Mothers Who Care, mothers pray for kids every week at schools across South Africa. At Crossroads, trainers and teacher are equipped to teach kids character development and relationship skills with an emphasis on reserving sexual activity for marriage.

God has worked in and through Sanei’s life and in her passing to touch family, friends and many others in her service to Him. She exemplified Jesus’ words, “Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your hearts will also be.”

Creativity

Sanei felt that creativity is inherited from God our creator. She enjoyed the creative process, taking time to consider and play with different creative options, such that the result was impactful and distinct. She lived out her creativity in ministry, gardening, building a business, painting, pottery, and sculpting. Sanei also studied the healing effect of being creative. Some samples of Sanei’s work are shown below.

Click on the images below to enlarge them.

Inspiration – watercolor
Bushmen heritage – lino print
Birds – oil painting
Contemplation – ceramic sculpture
Feet washing – steel sculpture
Roots – lino print
Me with a big clay foot

Travel

Sanei was blessed to have travelled to many interesting destinations, both for ministry and for vacation with family and friends. Countries she visited included Israel, Morocco, Egypt, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland, Lesotho, Kenya, Austria, Holland, Greece, Germany, Italy, Spain, the USA, Mexico (Check), and Canada. Two of these trips stood out for Sanei.

USA/Mexico (1976) – Training with CCC to equip Willie and Sanei for ministry.
Impactful for Sanei was cross-cultural training sessions with practical application in working with people in different cultures. Specifically, for people to understand and respect each culture’s value system. Every culture has good and bad, or weak elements. One cannot expect other cultures to adopt your value system, but one can disciple those who follow God on elements which conflict with God’s word. Practical application included work in Mexico and an African-American church.

Other sessions that shaped her work were on relationships and conflict management. This challenged Sanei to deal with facts, rather than speculating or assuming ill intent. Prior to this, Sanei was inclined to read too much into others’ actions when those actions irked her. She was challenged to learn to do what is appropriate and sensible, based on available facts, as an act of her will. This included first deciding to forgive when you don’t feel like it, whereafter emotions associated with forgiveness will follow.

Egypt (2002 Check) – Prayer outreach and vacation
Sanei had a very special time when Andrey Hayes, Corrie Prinsloo and Corrie’s sister, Antoinette Griesel, joined Sanei to pray at a Coptic church in the desert between Alexandria and Cairo. After this, they traveled to Kairo where they visited several museums and took the train to Luxor along the Nile. Below are some special moments from this trip.

Click on the images below to enlarge them.

Coptic Christians in Wadi El Natrun whom we prayed with
Sanei share her faith while traveling in Egypt

4 thoughts on “Sanei: a life story”

  1. With love and admiration, my husband and I remember dear Sanei. We look forward to the day when we can together laugh and sing in the presence of The One we all call Our Savior.
    Larry and Debby Thompson
    Church Movements Cru

  2. Pietdb@cccsa.org.za

    Thank you so much for this wonderful testimony of Sanei. It was so special to read her story and how sje and Willie started at CCC
    It was a privilege to serve the Lord with them at CCC for the past 48 years
    We pray that you will be able to keep going alone although we know you will mss her a lot Willie

    Piet and Millie de Beer

  3. Thank you Willie, Derek, Priscilla and Marius for this wonderful testimony about Sanei. We are sooo grateful to our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ for bringing Willie and Sanei across our paths leading to an invitation by Willie and my being born again at a CCC seminar at Rob Ferreira 40 years ago! – Praise God! (Incidentally, Piet and Millie, you were there too).
    Our friendship with the Botha family is very precious and we pray the Comforter will give you peace during this time of adapting to a new way of life without Sanei. Shalom. Dempsey and Cathy de Lange.

  4. We will always be thankful for Willie and Sanei’s faithfulness in leading Niel and myself to Jesus at CCC seminar at Allemanskraal Dam in 1987. Our whole life was changed and of course the life of generations after us. Because of this all the angels in heaven are celebrating and I am sure one will find Sanei in the front row in heaven, praising God day and night!

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