Simon Thomas

My name is Simon Thomas, born 1962 in the middle of winter to parents who were average middle class of the time. I cannot remember those first years very well but I was being treated for Epileptic seizures 18 months from when I was born.

I could not speak English until I was 12, since the culture I grew up in was very Afrikaans. It was school that turned things around for me. Comic books, the Hardy boys books, eventually everything and including Wilbur Smith was read by the time I finished high school. I had no idea of what to do with my adult life so I took a job doing the filing at a company. Reading of course was my constant joy, anything form Theology to Philosophy and everything in-between. 

I had by then become firmly convinced of the Judeo Christian world view but knew very little of the intricacies of doctrine. That would come later. I gave my weekends and sometimes week nights doing youth work at the local church and teaching Sunday school. Life was simple, go to work, go to church, visit the sick and elderly and of course, read and learn. The library became my best friend, I loved reading ancient history, about the great empire that rose and fell and why that happened. I came across Plato and plagued my Pastors and elders about the meaning of life and my place in the universe.

Douglas Adams taught me the meaning of life is 42 and Plato convinced me that I do not know nearly enough. I joined with the Merry band of Missionary Methodist Local preachers and set off to the eastern Cape to work among the coloured community in the Eastern Cape in South Africa.  I stayed there for four years, living in the township among the poorest of the poor in the rural area off Grahamstown.

Once again I was visiting the elderly, preaching in both English and Afrikaans and occasionally conducting funerals. Coming from a more privileged background it was amazing to share a simple meal with people you knew lived below the bread line.

After two years I went to work in an inner city church in Port Elizabeth, also in the Eastern Cape.  The small church of mostly elderly people welcomed me as their Pastor and I visited them probably more than I preached. Talking is what I do. If I can’t do it form a Pulpit I do it on a pavement. There is always time to encourage and uplift people. I found that a little bit of kindness often says more than eloquent sermons.

Health issues took me home again back to Johannesburg, my seizures were not well controlled and I was also diagnosed as Bipolar. But I eventually found a job again in the busy metropolis of Johannesburg and after a year got married, and had a beautiful little girl. 

I continued my theological studies and found the Reformed and Puritans and days gone past very interesting, it confirmed in many ways what I already knew. That in myself, I was not sufficient in myself to save myself from the malice I had experienced in life from other people. I also realised I needed as savior to help me find meaning and purpose going forward. I worked at that for the next couple of years, but my health again did not hold up. In 2005 I was admitted to a Psychiatric hospital for treatment of the epilepsy and mood disorder I suffered from.

I carried on however with my theological studies and getting to understand my New Testament in Greek helped me understand the nuances and meanings of words and phrases that is sometime lost in the English. Believe it or not, just learning Biblical Greek that year helped me pull out of a severe depressive episode. I was enthralled by my new understanding of how spiritual life works.

2013 I was once again in a Psychiatric facility with the same problem. The uncontrolled epileptic seizures and mood disorders. The counselling and therapy helped a bit but in 2018 I found myself again in a Psychiatric hospital. Honestly I can say that I learned more profound theology from my bouts of adversity. I loved Philosophy also from the start since it gave me the opportunity to see that suffering is part of the human condition, and we need to embrace it as a teacher and not as an enemy.

Finally. I am still in recovery from the last bout of seizures that put me into hospital, and have semi-retired for a while until I can go back to work. But in the meantime I live in hope.

Deo Volente

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I will always love you and will miss you forever. My one and only true love. Till we meet again, fly fly my yellow butterfly xx

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