At the age of six, I lost my father to the streets. He was sentenced to life imprisonment for murder, leaving my 24-year-old mother to raise three children. The emotional poverty of growing up without a father had a lasting effect. We were often bullied and taken advantage of growing up, our protector was gone. Broken, abused and looking for something, anything, to be my pillar of strength, I ran to the church and at age 14, I experienced God for the first time.

I hungered and sought after him and I found Him. In the space of one year, I went from a failure to achieving the highest marks at school and was awarded a bursary until I matriculated. The Lord elevated me to heights I had never thought possible, but I became arrogant and self-sufficient. I forgot the broken me who had bowed before the altar empty. As the Bible says, “Pride cometh before the fall”, and so I fell.

It was then that the vicious cycle of backsliding began. My sinful life would break me and leave me with nothing. I would look up, and the Lord would deliver me. Each time however, my fall would be harder and I would end up worse than before. The Bible says, “When the Lord comes in He cleans up, but the evil spirit that He casts out will eventually decide to go back to its home, but it takes with it seven worse spirits than itself, leaving the person in a state much worse than they initially were in.”

I started using drugs. Primarily crack cocaine, ecstasy and mandrax. I dabbled in sexual immorality with various partners and prostitutes. I joined a gang and the bloodshed started. Subsequently so did appearing in the court of law. “Evin Christmas, Attempted Murder, Assault and Robbery!” “You won’t see your 21st Birthday,” were my mother’s words. Sadly, I unconsciously did what every little boy aspires to do, to be just like my Dad!

I found myself on trial facing a 15-year prison sentence. The complainant had full-blown AIDS. I had lost my job and my girlfriend who at the time was pregnant and expecting my child. I was possibly going to jail and could have contracted the virus, not to mention infecting my unborn child and his mother. I was broken!

I looked up to the heavens and this most merciful, gracious God we serve reached out His Loving Hand yet again and picked me up off my back. The charges were dismissed, I got my job back, got an increase, a door opened for me to study and I had not contracted HIV.

God is good but a fool forgets this. I guess I am the biggest fool. Truthfully, without Him I am. When that final fall came, my world shook! I deteriorated to the point where I was smoking heroin (whoonga). I was staying in a township near my home and had not seen my son for a year. My family had cut me off. I had just been released from the awaiting trial section of prison. There I stood in a single room with just my bed that I slept on. I had not eaten for days and my body was withering away.

It had been two years since I took the Lord seriously. In tears, I cried out, “Lord I am sorry! Please save me, please!” I approached my spiritual father and he could see that I was killing myself. We spoke for about an hour but one sentence stands out for me, “We are sending you to CYPSA, it is not a rehab but a restoration centre. Go be alone with God. We know if you find Him again you can battle this son.”

Now I have been with CYPSA for nearly one year. My family relationships have been restored. I have since spoken to my son and his mother and we are on good speaking terms. I have had the honour of going on an outreach to schools in Mpumalanga. I now am a part of the CYPSA organization and can give back and be an example to many others. I can share with them the Goodness of God and the truth. The truth that addiction is bigger than man, but God is bigger than addiction.

The scars, tears, drugs and bloodshed were all used to mould me into the man of God I am today. Strong, courageous and able to reach the lost, sick and bound because of God’s Grace that I have experienced.