Anita van Jaarsveld (Testimony written 2017)

I have learned the story about the Prodigal Son, but in many senses I was a prodigal daughter. My background is a middle class White suburban upbringing but in last two years of schooling started hanging around with what I now see as the wrong crowd.  How I passed my final year of schooling I am not sure how except that God must have brought me through as for me it was a sort of blur. Did not get the results expected, but hey it was a pass!

My father was not home much as he traveled often in his job, but he was always there, when home that is, and available, but through the years grew estranged from him, and my Mom although a good woman was not godly at all and had a number of affairs whilst my father was away on business. He only discovered this many years later. With parents so occupied in their own lives my older sister and I sort of had much leeway to do our own thing. unfortunately many times the wrong thing but no-one seemed to notice too much. I fell pregnant shortly after leaving school and not too sure who the father was decided to abort the baby. This led for me to many feelings of guilt and unfortunately more and more over the counter drugs being consumed. Especially a particular brand of cough syrup. However the costs of purchasing this cough mixture was more than what I was earning in my job in a travel agency. So I started running up accounts with different pharmacies. Not a difficult thing in a city like Johannesburg and its suburbs.Problem arose when I had some 70 accounts at different pharmacies and owed the equivalent of about 4 months salary in total between them all, and I lost my job. Parents got upset when they discovered some of their household possessions in a local pawn shop, and that is when I ran away to Port Elizabeth with a fellow who said he could hook me up with some work there. Without going into detail it was sleazy and I was highly ashamed of this work, but it earned enough to keep my addiction satisfied, and a dribble every now and then to the pharmacies that I owed money.

When my sister, deeply concerned about me, gave me a surprise visit with her fiancee and saw the deprivation that I had sunk into, she hastily made arrangements and before I knew it I was on a bus to Shekinah and their rehab courses. There I experienced love and care and genuine concern for my personal needs that I had long forgotten existed. After battling through withdrawal after about three weeks I could start thinking more clearly without my mind being befuddled with drugs, and saw my need of Divine intervention in my life. I surrendered to God and that was a turning point in my life. I learnt that although Christ said he would be with me through all trials and problems and personal and family issues, He never said He would take them away. But my experience was that he was a comfort to me through all the challenges that faced me. I wish I could say that everything was smooth and easy once I left a prolonged stay at Shekinah that my sister so kindly sponsored, but it was not. The main issues have been resolved. family relationships although still strained are slowly healing and I can laugh together in the company of both my mother and father. My sister has always been close tome and never gave up praying for me. I visited every single pharmacy where I had accounts outstanding, and even though some of them had written off the debt I owed, I have made promise to return every cent I owe them. The Lord gave me a job, as an assistant in on of these pharmacies, and I know that the Lord says that we should not place ourselves in a place of temptation, but the owner is an elder in the church I attend, and he says he can be a watchdog over me. At the time of writing this testimony I have repaid about 90% of the debt, as well as repurchased most of the stuff of my parents that I had pawned. I even went to the house of someone who had bought some of our stuff, and after relating my story they willingly sold the goods back to me. It has been a long 8 years since I completed the rehab courses, but there is something to live for each day. God has given me a hope for the future, and that hope is drug free.

God has been good to me. He has given me a second chance that many people do not get. I love Him and attend church fellowship regularly, and have even bought a small second hand car to get around. The cravings for the drugs have gone completely, but I know that I am still a work in progress with many issues that still need sorting out. But I thank the Lord every day for His love for me, and that he did not just throw me on the rubbish dump. But He gave me a caring and loving family and friends who have been, and continue to be a support to me. To Him all the glory and honour for the gift of a new drug free life He has given me.

 

About the Author: Mike Harty