My Name is Nico Liebenberg…and this is my story, my testimony. The Rainbow story.
I was 25 years old when I first gave my heart to the Lord. Looking back, I now realize that God had an incredibly special plan with my life, a hopeful future, although I did not always experience it as such. Let me tell you about my journey.
I started studying mechanical engineering in 1986, and through the grace of God, I became the Engineering Manager of Engen Petroleum Company at 29 years of age. Unfortunately, due to wrong lifestyle choices, I later lost everything that I deemed important. I did, however, lose track of God’s amazing grace in my life, even after I survived three horrible car accidents that left a mark on me, physically and emotionally.
We serve a God of miracles – This I realize even more today as I am telling this story.
A few years later I decided to enroll in theological studies to upgrade my CV and improve my chances of employment. What I did not take into account, however, is that this was exactly where God wanted to be. With this being said, I have to admit that I was still stuck in the snares of addiction that led to devastating consequences – I ended up homeless and struggling to survive. These negative experiences really shaped the man that I am today, but I am getting ahead of myself.
I remember a dream I had during that time – A dream that really upset me. A friend of mine interpreted this dream for me and confirmed that God had special plans for me and that He called me for a specific purpose. I was not yet ready or equipped to succeed in these plans. This made me desperate to equip myself and be ready. At this point, I did not realize that God equips the called, and that He does not need me to equip myself. He was in control and already at work on my behalf.
In 2007, I was fortunate to obtain employment at an international company. This enabled me to get back on my feet financially, and off the streets. However, a few months later my contract was terminated, resulting in me going back the streets, struggling to survive. But God was not done with me yet.
I was later offered a job in Iran as a General/Construction manager – I was so excited and thought this was the dream come true, but I did not heed the warnings against it. This new role required to travel regularly between Iran and Dubai. During one of these business trips, I was unknowingly caught with an expired visa, which I thought at the time to be still valid. I was arrested on the spot and immediately deported back to Dubai. Luckily, my visa for Dubai was still valid.
While I was still in Dubai, I was privileged to have met my late wife, Corné, a middle-school teacher in Oman – She was an incredibly woman of God, the best faith-warrior that God ever had. She believed that all things would work for the good for those who love Jesus, according to Romans 8:28.
When my employment contract expired, I relocated to Sohar to be with Corné and her son.
…leaving us with absolutely nothing.
I was fortunate to quickly get employment in Sohar as a General Manager for a local Group of 5 companies. I was however not paid my monthly salary but promised a lump sum once a specific period has passed. On the day this payment was due, the owner of the business packed up and left for Thailand, clearing out his bank accounts. This left us with absolutely nothing. We were devastated as we expected and depended on this payment. When all seemed lost, I was contacted by the manager of Impala Internet Radio Station in Russia, who wanted me to manage a satellite radio station for them in Sohar. I was then hired as the Christian Program Manager and radio presenter by the station. It was surely one of the training schools I had to go through where I learned a few lessons on broadcasting. It also prepared me for the next big event in my life where I was asked to build radio stations.
Before Rainbow Gospel Internet Radio was even a vague whisper in my mind or in my spirit, God was busy preparing me for what was yet to come.
Shorty after this time, I received the vision from the Lord to start building Rainbow Gospel Radio. This came with Impala’s blessing. Unfortunately, due to irreconcilable differences on certain aspects on the management of their station, we eventually decided to break ties with Impala Internet Radio Station and started to focus solely on Rainbow Gospel Radio.
In an effort to generate some form of income, Corné and I created another radio station aimed at the locals in our country of residence. Unfortunately, the idea was just too abstract for the local people to grasp, and we could not find sustainable advertisers. Our policy with this radio station was to not broadcast any religious or political programs – I did not want to encourage the Muslim religion in any way. During this time, I also met a Jordanian preacher who became a very good friend of mine, who agreed to broadcast a sermon live on Rainbow Gospel Radio. Unfortunately, his life was threatened the very next day, whereafter he withdrew himself. It was too dangerous for him to do any kind of Christian broadcast on RGR. We had no clue what was still ahead for us.
I felt the urge and passion in my heart to make Rainbow Gospel Radio work, but nobody wanted to help or support us in the endeavour. They thought it could not and would not work. I studied the concept of internet radios for months to be able to do it myself. Corné started doing research on the internet and various other websites.
Our favorite Bible verse, Romans 8:28, carried us through this journey, clinging to the vision for Rainbow Gospel Radio.
The name “Rainbow” was the name given by my late wife, Corné. The rainbow is a sign of God’s covenant with Noah. The colors also symbolize all the different nations of the world.
For security reasons, the registration of Rainbow Gospel Radio was done via South Africa – The website was managed from the Middle East. Rainbow Gospel Radio started broadcasting Gospel music on 18 August 2013. At the beginning of November 2014, we began with live broadcasts and pre-recorded messages. Corné and I were missionaries in the Middle East, in the middle of the Muslim stronghold, and we had to take the safety of all the people involved into consideration. Our broadcasting studio was 20 meters away from the largest mosque in our town, making it extremely dangerous to broadcast the Word of God.
On listeners’ demand we later decided to include secular programs into the schedule. This was only done after serious thought and prayer. The secular programs, with Christian guidelines, are on the program schedule at different times during the day. The main goal of every program is to reach out to our listeners, who can participate on our Rainbow Chat page on Facebook, while listening to the live broadcast.
Corné and I got married at the end of 2013 with the help of a Jordanian pastor, whereafter we focused solely on Rainbow Gospel Radio and its various broadcasts. Although we stayed a few meters from the mosque, they were unaware of what we were doing because of high walls surrounding the house. We did not work, and therefore we had no income. We were only broadcasting on the radio. We had internet, and my mother sent us money every month, so that we could survive. Unfortunately, our funds were depleted rather quickly, which led to our water in the house being cut off. This left us with extremely poor conditions in the scorching heat of the Middle East. I remember a few times we had to sneak to the International Centre to take a quick shower and gather water for the household.
It was during these difficult times that we started receiving threats on our lives. Numerous videos of beheadings with a strongly worded warning: “We know what you are doing, and we are coming for you!” were sent to us.
As if this was not enough to scare us, we even received warnings from family and friends, pleading with us to flee. Even the ambassador sent warnings our way – But we did not listen. In our disobedience, God was still faithful to us and protected us, without us even knowing it. The Omani Ambassador in SA, who was friends with Corné’s family, warned us to leave the country. The next day, our landlord gave us notice to evacuate, forcing us to leave the premises and find alternate accommodation. We left in the middle of the night and found a two-room shelter in the field. We sold some personal belongings to obtain funds. We were warned again and again; our friends were even warned against any association with us, leaving us terribly lonely. But we continued broadcasting the Gospel on RGR.
We left in the middle of the night and found a two-room shelter in the field
Times were tough…
Times were tough in that two-room shelter in the middle of nowhere. I remember how hungry we were, how Corné worked her magic to make soup from a single cabbage. If we ever gor our hands on a chicken, we ate the whole thing… bones and all. Having one meal a day was a luxury. Luckily, we had an underground source of water, which helped a lot, especially in the demanding heat of the desert. We had nowhere else to go, and besides, we were still in hiding. I remember when we had to go to town to get supplies, we had to use a different route for each trip, either traveling alone or together, leaving Corné’s son at the shelter in the field. On one such trip, we were driving our Kia back to the shelter, when we realised that we were being followed. Our God was still faithful – While trying to get away from our followers, our vehicle’s tyre burst, but instead of rolling the vehicle, we came to a straight standstill – safe. We saw the followers drive past us, realising that God was once again protecting us. Even though our living conditions and circumstances was extremely difficult and trying, we were content and kept focusing on broadcasting the good news on RGR.
As if matters could not get worse, our internet at the two-room shelter one day had a connection problem. The radio sensors where at two points at the top of a pole next to our shelter – and believe me, that pole was high. We had no ladder, but I had to get to the top to fix the connection so that we can continue broadcasting. In my attempt to get to the top, I constructed a make-shift ladder to help me get to these radio sensors. Unfortunately, I lost my balance and fell backwards. For a few moments I could not breath at all, the wind completely knocked out of my chest; then I heard a voice telling me to breath. Corné was hysterical when she found me and wanted to take me to the hospital – This was a challenge for two reasons: 1) we were in hiding, and 2) we did not have medical aid. Our landlord eventually transported us to numerous hospitals, who did not want to help me, as I did not have medical aid. The landlord eventually booked me into the last hospital under his name, where I was admitted, treated and discharged a week later.
I was excited and expectant…
A few weeks later, we received an email from the South African Embassy, telling me that I was summoned to court. Being under the impression that it was in relation to the money owed to me by die employer in Sohar who fled to Thailand, I agreed to go. I was excited and expectant; hoping that we will finally get our money so that we can go home to South Africa – And be free again. Arriving at the court, I realised that something was wrong when discussions lasted a mere few minutes. On my way out, I was called back and unexpectantly taken into custody – My lawyer fled the scene, leaving me to fend for myself in a situation where I did not understand them and they did not understand me. Luckily, I had my cell with me, and could let Corné know what happened. She wanted to come help me immediately, but I then realised she was in danger and should not come – They would have arrested her as well, and I could not let that happen.
Later that afternoon, I was transported to the Sohar Police Station where I was locked up in a cell and stayed for 50 days – with absolutely nothing, no blankets or clothing. The conditions inside the prison were dire. There were no medical supplies when we got sick, and we had to rely on alternative solutions – In prison, everything comes at a price. I was bombarded with the Muslim tradition and customs inside the prison, where they prayed and performed their rituals five times per day. They tried to convert me to Islam, but I refused. They wanted to rape me on several occasions, but God protected me, His mercy-child.
The ambassador tried to find out why I was arrested but was told that I was only detained – this was on Sunday, 13th of March 2017. On the 15th of March, Corné and her son was dropped off before the South African Embassy in Muscat at 03:00. They slept on the sidewalk until the gates of the embassy opened in the morning. While at the embassy, Corné called me every day; she and the ambassador even visited me in prison on numerous occasions, bringing much-needed supplies – not only for me, but for other prisoners as well.
While I was in these terrible conditions inside the prison, God gave me the opportunity to minister to other inmates, whether it was through supplying them with necessities or ministering to them from the Word. It was not easy for me to stay positive in there. I cried a lot and asked God many questions. Although I knew that God did not give me a spirit of fear, I was afraid – no, I was terrified – I was terrified to go to sleep, to go take shower, and to leave my personal belongings in my cell. I was scared for Corné and her son. I was scared for us. Yet, His grace was sufficient for me.
On the 3rd of April 2017, I heard that Corné and her son was deported back to South Africa. Although I was elated for them, I was terribly sad and lonely when I realised that I was now completely alone in this prison. The 3rd of April, that afternoon, I gave Corné a call and she immediately phoned back – She was so happy to be back in South Africa and with her family. On the 4th of April, I found out that Corné was ill. I immediately called her doctor, who informed me that she was admitted to hospital because she was struggling to breath. I never had the opportunity to talk to her again, as she passed away in hospital on the 8th of April 2017.
I went totally ballistic when I heard the news of Corné’s death – I threw the phone against the wall and the Arabs and Pakistani’s started running out of fear. Before her death, the prison was bad – it was not a nice place to be, but I believe that God had prepared me for it during those times when I was living on the streets and in shelters. But once Corné passed away, my life came crushing down on me, I thought that I was finished; I could not understand why God allowed it to happen to her… to me? In response to this devastating news, I went on a hunger strike for two days. I rebelled against Corné’s death, to my imprisonment and being treated like a dog – I just had enough. My fellow-inmates eventually started begging me to eat, as my refusal would mean brutal treatment for them as consequence. I obliged for them, and only for them. I needed something, someone to live for – Even if it meant living so that they could live.
On the 16th of April 2017, I was again summoned to court to stand against my charge – A simple visa misdemeanour, most probably still related to my deportation out of Iran. Without any clear outcome, I was later sent back to jail. I was so confused and angry; I did not understand what was going on and why this was happening to me. I just needed some answers; answers I was clearly not going to get soon. A week later, I was summoned again for the final verdict, where I was found not guilty on all charges except for the expired Visa misdemeanour – I was sanctioned with a fine and 30 days imprisonment, which I already served at that time. After waiting another few days for the official charge and sanction in writing, I was informed that I will be deported once I pay the fine. My mother helped me with the necessary funds to pay the fine and booked my flight back home – I will be forever grateful to her.
On the 27th of April, I was finally on my way home, cuffed with only a t-shirt and pair of shorts. I had to steal a pair of sandals, as my feet were full of cuts and blisters. I was taken to a venue in Mascat, close to the airport, where I was held with 50 other people in a ridiculously small room. During that night, we were taken to an underground holding cell, where I was the only Western individual. Although this holding cell was bigger, it was wet and freezing cold. Throughout the night, groups of people were routinely removed from the cell and placed on their respective flights – Until I was the only one left. I cannot explain to you how scary that was; being completely alone in a cold, dark and wet cell, not knowing what was going to happen and whether I was going to make my flight. I only truly relaxed once my flight was airborne and I realized that I was finally going home. I was sobbing when the flight took off and when it finally landed in Addis Ababa. I had to run to make it to my connecting flight to South Africa, something that was extremely difficult to do seeing that I had numerous physical ailments that prevented me for running. I was so anxious about possibly missing my flight to South Africa. Luckily, I made it just in time – Finally I was on my way home.
On the 28th of April 2017, I finally landed in South Africa. Relief flooded over me when I saw my mother, pastors, friends and Rainbow Gospel Radio presenters waiting for me. I was immediately taken to a Free State hospital for much needed medical care and treatment, after which I went straight back home and continued broadcasting.
Looking back at my journey, and revisiting all the things that happened to me, I realize again how faithful God has been through it all. His grace has been sufficient for me, I am His mercy-child. I truly believe that all things work for the good for those who love Him and has been called for His purpose.
With this, I want to thank everyone who prayed for me, who supported me – and those still praying for me – May God bless you.
In 2021, Rainbow Gospel Radio is a successful internet Gospel Radio station, with listeners from over 184 countries in the world. We have a select group of almost 60 presenters, presenting the Gospel all over the world. The program schedule features a wide variety of programs with the purpose of spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ to every corner of the world.
This is Rainbow Gospel Radio – The Mission radio for the world.