When I left South Africa in 1989 to start my studies at the Santa Anita School of Ministry in California, I had a US tourist visa for one year and a job offer as a translator from a congregant at the Santa Anita Church. This job offer would allow me to get a Green Card – or so I thought. That completely bombed. 😦
The Santa Anita Church, Arcadia, California
Throughout the 10 years I lived in the USA, I constantly applied for visas and Green Cards but each one was declined. I lived in fear of being deported and not being able to finish my ministerial studies. I had completed my ministerial training at Santa Anita in 1992
Graduation day at Santa Anita, 14 June 1992.
This photo, taken round the back of the church after the graduation ceremony, became the obvious choice of cover image for my autobiography 🙂
but was not inwardly ready to go back to S. Africa and start a ministry so I had registered for further training at the Agape Campus of the Holmes Institute under Rev. Dr. Michael Beckwith.
Rev. Dr. Michael Beckwith
My beloved teacher and friend, Rev. Nirvana Gayle, was the Dean of Students there. One night, after a class, I shared the fear of being deported with Rev. Nirvana and he reassured me:
“Stephanie, if you weren’t supposed to be here to fulfill your calling as a minister in training, you would not be here. You are here under Spiritual Law which is a higher law than the human laws pertaining to immigration. What’s more, you will be here for exactly the amount of time you need to be here. When your time is up, and you have completed your mission here, you will leave but not a moment before.”
With Rev. Nirvana Gayle at the CSL Convention in Vancouver, Canada. 2013
That conversation was very reassuring. And Nirvana was right. About 4 years later, I got my “call” to return to S. Africa in January 1999. It was just a few months after I had graduated as a Religious Science minister from the Holmes Institute in June 1998. In November, 1999, I left California and flew back to Johannesburg to start the first New Thought multi-racial ministry in S. Africa as a means of healing the legacy of Apartheid. I knew I had to heed the call even though I was still waiting for the result of my most recent Green Card application.
As I left the US out-of-status in 1999, there was a 10 year ban on re-entering. I thought I would be allowed back into the US in November 2009. It turned out I was wrong about that too.
In 2003 and 2004, I was asked by the United Church of Religious Science to speak at their annual convention about the successful ministry I had started in S. Africa. The US Embassy official I spoke to in 2003 said there might be hope of getting a visa waiver but in the end my application was declined. In 2004, when I applied again, the next US Embassy official was very stern. He told me not to assume that I would automatically be able to re-enter the USA in 2009 because the terrorist attacks on 9/11 had caused the United States immigration authorities to be much more selective about the kind of foreigners they let into the USA. Obviously, as I had lived in Los Angeles illegally, I was persona non-grata and my reasons for reentering the country would be suspect: I might once again try to enter on a tourist visa but with the intention of immigrating illegally. The Embassy official warned me that I might never be able to re-enter the USA and, with that, he closed my file and dismissed me.
I got used to the idea of being denied entry to America. However, thanks to consciousness evolving towards greater and greater Oneness and the miraculous demonstration of that in the form of sophisticated technology, I was able to Skype with my friends in the USA. And, just when I was missing the Agape community particularly badly, my best friend Harriet suggested I get on to Facebook where I was able to reconnect with nearly all of my Agape friends and so many other friends around the world too. I had spiritual community again, albeit in cyber-space, but a whole lot better than nothing.
So all was not lost but I was banned from the US and I became stuck in that mindset of being an alien and an out-law. I did not apply for a US visa again for another 14 years and only then because a dear friend of mine invited me to be a guest and a ceremony facilitator at her wedding in Boston, Mass., in August 2019.
Find out what happened in the next blog post…..
Appreciating the miracle of global communication via technology.
Author of “The Sex Goddess: Debunking the Mythology of God & Sex”
“The Miracles of Earth are the Laws of Heaven” – Johann Richter