Vanessa and Rehgert on Life and Marriage in South Africa and the Father's Heart


October’s testimony behind the matrimony is featuring Rehgert and Vanessa VanZyl who have been married for 9 years. This episode was recorded in Jeffrey’s Bay, South Africa! If you missed episode 09, I (your host!) share a part of my testimony and why this couple is so special. The Lord used them big time in my life to show me what a Godly marriage looks like, how a husband and wife honor and respect each other through speech and action, what serving God for His Kingdom together looks like and that this type of covenant keeping, covenant binding marriage is something worth waiting for! 

It was a bit surreal getting off the plane and jumping in the car with this couple after the 25+ hour trek.  But they were amazing and swept me up and into their home and made my first trip to Africa simply miraculous! 

I loved getting to know them and I can’t wait for you to get to know them too — 


Rehgert shares a little bit about his family history and more about the South African country and culture. 

A continent and countries that are “stuck in time”, which truly add to the charm, beauty and wonder. 

He shares it can be the most frustrating and rewarding at times.

His love for country is built in as he has been born and raised in South Africa.  

Vanessa shares how she fell in love with Africa when she lived in Uganda and admits found it harder to live in South Africa, as the welcoming wasn’t as warm.  

ministry + work - aleph surf international

Their work, at Aleph Surf International (linked!) is to bring groups that wouldn’t normally be together, together. Their hope is to change the stigmas around what you look like in South Africa. 

How Aleph Surf International started — 

Rehgert shares what Aleph means (hint: it’s the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet), why surfing is the bridge to reach the youth and the methodology behind it (small amounts of kids over long periods of time). 

Vanessa has a background in apparel manufacturing and she’s passionate about job creation, especially for women — 

“Women around the world are all the same — we all want to get our hair done and wear a nice dress! And yet I learned along that road that you can teach somebody how to fish or teach them how to make bread, but if you don’t give them the Bread of Life they’re going to be hungry tomorrow”.

their meeting story + marriage

And talk about the hand of God bringing these two together (it gives me chills!), we get to hear that story too and the intentionality of the Father’s heart and how He pays attention to every detail in our lives — down to the selection of wedding flowers (this story toward the end!)

Vanessa shares the very real struggles in their first years of marriage and what she learned during the first year of marriage was that we run to everything else but God…but He stripped her of everything and it built questions around her faith. 

She shares some of her darkest days were in that first year of marriage, having to mourn the loss of family, her job yet she says she’s a bit bummed it had to be that way because it’s also a celebratory time!

“He wanted me to learn it wasn’t about what I did, it was just about my relationship with Him” - Vanessa 

She shares that on one of her runs, the Father spoke —
‘You have been looking at everything you’ve lost but not at everything you’ve gained. 

Do you want to run trails you’ve run before or trails you’ve never run before?  I’m trying to give you new trails to blaze but you want to keep running the same one.’”

The veil came off and she saw the beauty of South Africa for what it was. 

gender roles and submission

Setting the record straight about submission…Vanessa was a “roaring feminist” (her husband jokes) yet she beautifully unpacks what she’s learned about submission and that it’s one of the most freeing, empowering thing for women. 

“In our gender roles, God has asked us to submit but it doesn’t mean you have to be quiet.

We are life givers, in Hebrew it’s the word “ezer” and the only other place that word “ezer’ is used is for the Holy Spirit…
We literally get to be this inner life giving presence for our husbands, it’s such a strong powerful word, a military word.  We get to submit everything — our ideas, opinions to them but ultimately God asks us to trust Him and our husband to make the final call.  God knew there’d be a battle if that wasn’t clearly defined.” 

“This isn’t permission to oppress.  If, we as a husband submit to God, then my wife will want to submit and serve and be part of this team” - Rehgert 

Israel and covenant

They also share why the nation of Israel is so important and how we need to be keyed into this country and remember our part in God’s plan.  

“It is the country salvation came out of and the plan of redemption was set.

God chose them not because of any thing they have done, and in the same way marriage has to be the same.  Covenant is concrete, steadfast, no one can move that thing. 
When we haven’t met our end of the bargain, God still keeps His promise.” - Rehgert 

“The whole Bible is a marriage covenant. It’s about the Bridegroom pursuing His bride, God pursuing His people. It’s an everlasting promise to be faithful and to love, God does that perfectly for us.  He asks us to live that out through a marriage. 

The parable of the 10 bridesmaids who were ready… they were all technically ready but 5 weren’t, they had run out of oil.” - Vanessa 

“What we represent is something of an eternal plan of bringing the impossible together, and that’s more important than just she does or doesn’t like to eat what I like.” - Rehgert 

home life + good words

“Waking up and reading and praying together is very important and we’ve seen a lot of fruit from that” - V
“Your spouse should be your safe place and that’s what we need to be for each other” - R

“When you start stuff you think, “We’re gonna change the world, but then you see, can we even change this street?  This is the hard part.  But we can change individuals.” - R

“The pursuit should never die” - V talking about with each other and the pursuit of the LORD.

“Do we trust the Word and that He really wants us?” - V

in closing

And in closing, Vanessa shares some of the details of their wedding ceremony, God’s vision, the significance of the protea flower…the Father intervening in divine ways, the story of the unity candle and what the marriage ceremony resembles — Jesus coming back for His bride, His people. Keeping His promises to the very end.

Rehgert will close in prayer in Afrikaans, his native tongue!

this mont'h’s resource

The Bible project app to do together.