Conserving the environment had always been a passion for Herbert Shirley and he was thrilled when he landed his dream job on a private game reserve that bordered Kruger National Park.
“I was a wild character as a young man, so I was glad to find some of my old friends working at this private game reserve and they helped me find my way around,” says Herbert.
The reserve became headed by a new manager who introduced many of the staff to Freemasonry. Not knowing anything about them, Herbert joined this exclusive society for men and within three years he had reached a high rank at his local Masonic lodge.
Sadly, just after reaching this rank, both of his parents died in a motor vehicle accident.
Grieved by this sudden loss, Herbert began looking for hope and meaning for his suffering.
“The death of my parents made me realise that my spiritual life was in a mess,” Herbert explains.
“There was this deep down feeling of being empty and carrying a heavy weight on my shoulders.”
Around this time, Herbert met “a wonderful lady” who, despite not supporting his participation in Freemasonry, married him three years later.
Herbert recalls: “Her brother Doctor Wally Marais was in charge of a Christian Bible college and he told me that I needed Jesus Christ in my life.”
A short time later, a new manager fired Herbert, and as he looked for another job he was forced to leave the Freemasons.
While visiting his brother-in-law Wally at the Bible school, Herbert recalls that a guest speaker there made an invitation that triggered what Herbert describes as “a dog fight inside of me.”
“During a second meeting, I felt the same thing, and then I finally understood that there was little hope for me in the future unless I gave my life to Jesus Christ.
“As I prayed and invited Jesus to take control of my life, it felt like a big weight had been lifted off my shoulders.”
Herbert believes God opened his eyes when he heard Jesus’ words in John chapter 3, verse 16: “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
Herbert later discovered that this speaker had been mentored by his grandfather for many years, which Herbert says, “Really blew my mind about the amazing way God works.”
Knowing forgiveness and everlasting life through Jesus Christ has greatly changed his conduct and approach to life, according to both Herbert and his co-workers.
Now working as a subcontractor, Herbert shares that his manager’s assistant told him, “I can see God in your life and the way you speak about Him, that is who you are.”
In recent years, Herbert says he has faced many temptations as a result of financial difficulties, but “through the help of the Holy Spirit, I have avoided that pitfall. Also, by God’s grace, I have avoided being unfaithful towards my wife.”
“God has changed my attitude towards many things for the better,” he affirms. “I have spoken to some of my co-workers about Jesus and they are beginning to understand why my life has changed.”