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Headhunted for God’s Kingdom


“For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love He predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will to the praise of His glorious grace, which He has freely given us in the One He loves. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that He lavished on us”….Ephesians 1:4-8

I grew up in a church where questioning any form of authority was out of a question. I was raised to respect elders, respect traditions and respect whatever decision is made on my behalf. If my mother said I was going to spend my school holidays at a church pilgrimage then that is exactly what I would do. My life was clearly mapped out, I was born into this church and I would most certainly die in it. I never thought I would ever leave, other than through death. I believed and was raised to believe, that this was the only way to heaven and the wasn’t a holier religion or church in all the world.

Looking back I realise what I thought was respect was not respect at all but rather fear and oppression! How do you respect what you do not understand? How do you respect what you had no free will to choose to respect? I lived in constant fear of losing my family’s affections which, even as a young child, I understood were based on how well I conformed to the rules set for me. I also knew that my status in the church was dependent on how well I conformed to the rules and how well I played the role of a subservient daughter and ultimately wife and mother.

I do not believe I would have ever been set free to really discover God’s character if I had not become a mother at fifteen. According to church customs I was not allowed to come to church during my pregnancy and a few months after my baby was born. Even worse, my baby was a girl so my exile was a few months longer than it would have been if I had had a baby boy. My exile presented to me the unique opportunity to sit alone while everyone else was at church to read the Bible and really try to get to the bottom of where it said in the Bible this exile was justified. As the weeks turned into months and my self-taught Bible course intensified, I started learning how everything I had known all my life was founded on shaky theories and Bible verses taken out of context.

Once you have read something it becomes increasingly difficult to unread it and delete it from your memory. After I had finally read about who Jesus was, how He had died and risen for my sins, it became increasingly hard to accept that I had to dress differently and endure the looks of disdain from people simply for the sin of having my daughter. I was a disgrace to my family and the church for having committed this great sin and it seemed like until I got married to hide the shame of it all, I would continue to suffer. This did not reconcile to the merciful, loving God I was reading about in my Bible. I can still remember my mother asking me, “do you think you are the only person who has read the Bible” when I was asking her about these inconsistencies.

Naturally I lost faith in the church because the Bible became the only authority I was willing to follow. I started weaning myself slowly and avoided going wherever I could, because believe it or not at sixteen and seventeen my mother still forced me to do things. A part of me also still continued to go because I saw it as a way to rebuild the relationship with my family and particularly my mother. It was not until I left home after high school to go to university across the country that I really had a chance to break free.

When I first arrived at university, I tried different churches and my friends were quick to suggest churches when they heard that I was looking for one. Sadly though this quest was soon forgotten when I was consumed by the demands of my studies, a budding new romance and buzzing social life. At certain times in the first four years in university I remember trying to get back into the routine of going to church but something always came up. It did not help that during the latter part of this time period, my boyfriend became the more important priority in my life and we had a busy social calendar and there was still the little issue of a degree that I needed to obtain! Nonetheless, through all of this God faithfully pursued me.

In my fifth and final year of university, I found myself alone and scared, like I was at fifteen. Here I was repeating my honours year, my boyfriend had graduated and moved across the country, I had cheated on him with disastrous consequences and above all I was back to being the black sheep of the family. It was during this time that God called me to Him for comfort. It was in going to church every Sunday that the light slowly returned to my eyes, my hope was restored and I stopped beating myself for my multitude of sins. Sadly this independence and the freedom to pursue God as He had pursued me, had to come to an end when I graduated and returned home.

Living with my mother once more meant I had to abide by the rules of her kingdom. She attempted as much as she could to drag me to church with her and she did not care much that I often came kicking and screaming. Luckily for me working life provided an excuse to miss church now and then. I could never dream though of waking up on a Sunday morning and going to a church of my choice.

The biggest act of rebellion, and the second biggest sin I have committed in the eyes of my family was to move out just six months after arriving back home. For the two years I lived on my own, I was criticised by my aunt and grandmother at every chance they had. I was called a lot of things and accused of many things. Firstly, I apparently thought I was superior now that I worked and earned my own money. Another was that I felt I was too educated for the church where at least three generations before me had worshiped. Many curses were spoken over my life and I was told I would never make it in life because I had rejected God(funny because to this day I still get told this, which makes me wonder where I go every Sunday morning and what I do with all my Bibles). When I moved out I found a church that I quickly settled into and really loved.

I will be forever grateful to my friend who introduced me to Durban Christian Centre, which has been my home over the past few years. As I thought of her I remembered how God says in Isaiah 46:11, “From the east I summon a bird of prey; from a far-off land, a man to fulfill my purpose. What I have said, that I will bring about; what I have planned, that I will do.” That is truly what He did in this instance; He brought this friend into my life so that His purpose will be fulfilled. Shortly after I reached what I think was the pivotal point in my walk with Christ, she simply walked out of my life. Without any fight, without any identifiable reason we simply went on our lives. Her job was done, I had accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and savior, I had denounced all ties that I had to my former life.

You would think that is where the story ends. You would think this is where I declare I lived happily ever after, my faith just flourished overnight and ever since then I have lived in perfect obedience and have always felt God’s presence in my life. No! This is not where the story ends. If it did, I think I would have to change my blog title to: “God is done with me” in which case I am almost certain that I would be doing that from heaven (provided the internet connection there is fast enough)! Even if the story did end here, I do believe that it would be a great story because it would tell of how God went looking for me when I was lost and brought me home, like the shepherd in parable of the lost sheep(Matthew 18:12 – 14). It would still be an awesome love story of how He loved me so much, He sent His only son to die in my place(John 3:16). We would fade out to the sound of heaven rejoicing over this one sinner who once was lost but now is found.

The truth though, is that God has never stopped pursuing me. Being a Christian is not about being won over into the kingdom of Christ once and that’s that. It is about dedicating your life continuously and repeatedly to the Lord. It is about growing in your faith through trials and tests that we go through. Any sword that is left unsharpened soon becomes dull and rusty and what use it in fighting off danger? I have learned through my experiences that we are not called to be statues in the Kingdom, we are called to be warriors and conquerors. We can never accept any responsibility for being chosen, we had no choice in the matter. Before we were born, before He laid the foundations of the earth, He had you and I in mind and He called us then to be His children. Our places in heaven are secured through the blood of Jesus Christ and all we need to do is accept the call and start pursuing God with the love and passion with which we were pursued.

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Molded By His Discipline


“Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. Your clothes did not wear out and your feet did not swell during these forty years. Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the Lord your God disciplines you.” ~ Deuteronomy 8: 2 – 5

I have never hidden the fact that I am naturally very disobedient. It is not that I am proud of this trait because I am not. I admit my short-coming and confess it out loud because I want to acknowledge that there is a need in my life, a part of me that I am trusting God to heal, to perfect and at His appointed time to make whole. I am trusting the Potter to take the lump of clay that I am, and mold me into something beautiful and unrecognisable even to myself. While I am not a finished product, I will admit how remarkable it is to witness my own transformation, even in the past two months alone. I am beginning to see a new me and this process is blessing me with a personal testimony on Ephesians 4: 22 – 24.

I have been on one of the greatest adventures of my life in the time I have been back home, perhaps even greater than the time I spent abroad. God has brought me such clarity about the things He wants for me, the person He wants me to grow into and the company I need to keep for those things to come into fruition. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean everything in my life makes sense all of a sudden and that I’m now living a doubt-free, carefree life because I’m not!

Like Kirk Franklin says in Blessing in the Storm, “some of you would never pray if you didn’t go through something.” Lord knows I probably would have stopped seeking Him if He’d given me all the answers I need all in one go. What’s been wonderful though is just feeling the bond between God and I growing with every “ok I hear you Lord but what do You want me to do with this knowledge” and with every “no I don’t understand why it must be so, please help me understand.”

I’ll admit that in my walk with God I have thrown a lot of tantrums along the way and sometimes plonked myself ceremoniously on the side of the road and refused to carry on until He caved into my demands. Temper tantrums, screaming sessions, spells of defiance, passive aggressive pouts name it and I’ve done it. What did I get from God as a result of these? Absolutely nothing! He has sat and ignored me, as any good parent would and refused to give into my terrorist ways. I do not think anyone likes discipline, I know I don’t but as Proverbs 3: 11 – 12 says: “My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline, and do not resent his rebuke, because the LORD disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.” God knew my heart and He knew I needed to be go through a period of rebuke for me to learn some truths, not only about Him but about myself as well. As painful as it was for me to learn this lesson, I now understand how a lot of what I went through, particularly in the past year, was God’s way of disciplining me.

I spent the most of 2011 living in a spiritual wilderness, somewhere I would not have gone voluntarily had I been told that’s what it would be. For months I stumbled around, convinced He had forsaken me until I eventually realised that I was the one that had turned my back on Him. My heart physically hurt every time I thought of Psalm 42:4 because I, like the psalmist, could “Remember as I pour out my soul, how I would go with the throng and lead them in procession to the house of God with glad shouts and songs of praise, a multitude keeping festival.” And boy was I mad! I felt so betrayed by God! How could He yank me out of my comfort zone and out of a place where I was so comfortable with His presence and protection only for Him to go dump me all the way across the globe? Why was I now being excluded from the protection of Psalm 91? And what of Romans 8: 38 – 39, why was I the only one that it did not apply to? What would become of the promise He made to me with Jeremiah 29:11? Was my destiny for Him to set the table before my enemies just so they can witness my demise? I praise God though because through all my moments of insanity, through my disobedience and through my period of shunning the Word, I still desired nothing more than to return to His presence. In my heart I still knew that if I just dragged myself back to the altar and lay myself there, He would pick me up battered and broken as I was and make me whole once more.

The road back to my rightful place at my Father’s side has been anything but easy but I am grateful for the journey I have travelled. I remember the peace and joy I felt the moment I walked into church. This was it…this was what I had been yearning for…I was finally home! First few services were an emotional time for me and all I could really do was cry which was a huge deal for me because I’m not much of a crier and especially not a public one. He has done great things in my life, revealed great plans to me and none of this would have been possible without first appreciating Deuteronomy 8:3. I had to be humbled enough to know that I couldn’t live on my own, I couldn’t survive without Him and without His Word.

We all know the story of Job and we pray that after God has put us through some form of suffering that He will not only restore what we had but that He will also bless us far more than before. Part of the reason I was mad at Him for taking me away from His presence was because before I had left He had blessed me with the a direct line of communication with Him through the Bible. I knew that if I asked Him a question or needed guidance on a particular matter, if I opened a Bible the scripture I first lay my eyes on would be His response to me. In my time in my spiritual desert I longed for this more than anything. I eventually gave up on reading the Bible because it seemed every scripture I flipped through was irrelevant. Looking back now I realise that I needed this so I could be blessed with greater spiritual blessings.

I needed time away so that I would be able to recognise His voice when He talks to me. He has shown me what He has destined for me and what a beautiful future this is. None of this would have been possible without Him killing off parts of the old me, breaking down all that was hindering me and showing me what the new me is going to be like and then leading me step by step towards that goal. I wear the scars of the fire and cast of His disclipline with pride because I know, not only am I divinely favoured and loved, but I am being transformed into a better creation.

Lessons From The Desert Part 2 (Importance of Friendship)


“Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art… It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival.” ~ C.S. Lewis

The moment I read the above quote, I knew this would be the opening quote for this blog. As I prepare for my journey out of the desert, I reflect on all the lessons I have learned while stuck there and one of the most important ones is just what friendship and companionship mean to me.

Jesus is the epitome of a true friend for as John 15:13 says “there is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” and lay down His life He did just for me. I did not have a true appreciation for friends until I started university, far away from my family and all that was familiar to me. I quickly learned that if I was going to survive I needed to surround myself with people with the traits I admired and that I wanted to grow within me. I was blessed enough to meet my group of friends within my first month in university and today, nearly eight years later, I am still very close with a many of them. These wonderful women really shaped not only the woman, but the friend I am today.

I can still remember looking at my one friend and thinking, “how can she be so giving, so loving and so supportive?” She just seemed to be living John 15:13 as she loved, gave and supported even when she had better things to do and it seemed that those she was going out on a limb for, including myself, were not deserving. I knew looking at her that she was the kind of friend I wanted to emulate. As I started practicing to give more of myself and care less about what I received in return, I noticed the results because before I knew it I was overwhelmed with love and support and friends who’d drop everything to come to my aid when needed. Given the constant nurturing frienships require, I sometimes wonder how I managed to sustain those friendships throughout university because I was in a pretty serious relationship for pretty much my entire university career. I am sincerely grateful I did because when the chips were down and my world as I knew it shattered, they rallied around and they were there!

The most significant relationship I have built my friend template from is probably the one with my oldest and closest friend. I cannot sneeze without her saying “bless you” from the other side of the world. We were so close in high school even our mothers became friends. Sadly went our separate ways for university and pretty much did not speak or see each other for years. But man, did it hit us with a bang when we started working together a few years later! I do not feel I have developed enough as a writer to do our friendship and how much she means to me justice. I will not even try. By accepting and loving me just as I am with all my imperfections, she has really taught me how to just be me. She is truly my anchor and always pulls me back when calamity tosses me out of control. Never with grand gestures, never making me feel like I am stupid for not seeing it sooner but rather with the utmost gentleness, love and care. I once read in Rick Warren’s ‘The Purpose Driven Life’ that the most precious gift we can ever give is time. My best friend continues to give me the very best of herself, never demanding anything from me in return and it is from her than I have learned what a blessing it is to be loved unconditionally.

As I think of my friends who have come into my life quite unexpectedly, I cannot help but smile. Their friendship was so unexpected that unlike the friends I’ve discussed above, I cannot recall the point we became friends but I’m mighty grateful that we did. One day we were classmates, colleagues or strangers in church and the next they had carved very special places in my heart. They have added such a beautiful, enriched dimension to my life. Starting my working life I had often been warned to treat colleagues as such because ultimately they are there to look after themselves. It was quite a delightful lesson to learn that friendship does transcend age gaps, heirachies and most importantly the barriers supposedly imposed by work.

It is with absolute fondness that I reflect on each of the friends I left at home. My friends had done for me what a safe, nurturing environment does for a child; made me confident in my abilities and made me feel I was ready to take on the challange of moving abroad alone. If I had moved across the country and was able to building friendships that have survived years of separation, what would stop me now? If I was able to turn colleagues into friends why couldn’t I do it here? Looking back I realise that maybe I was somewhat arrogant in my thinking. Perhaps I was even more arrogant to think I would be able to survive without the glue that has held me together through my adult life thus far!

In Lessons From The Desert Part 1, I spoke about how making life-long friends was one of my goals when I arrived here. I was quite happy that I had landed up in Edinburgh because I had often heard how friendly the Scots were compared to say Londoners(which had been one of my possibilities). Having spent a few weeks trying to break into existing friendship circles in the office, I quickly realised that I was banging my head against a brick wall. We did not share similar interests and most importantly I just did not feel that sense of security that they understood me and that I belonged. So my next strategy was to align myself with the other South Africans who were pretty much in the same boat. Since most of the ones I would be working with were male, I planned to get to know their significant others that they’d moved here with and hopeful satisfy that longing I had for female companionship. Sadly, things did not quite work out.

It is not for the lack of trying that I will leave with no sense of accomplishment in this area. In my heart I really do believe that I did and tried all I could but always careful not too push too hard and trust in the process enough to take of the rest. Even with all that, I still have the deepest pain in my heart with all the hurt I have endured along the way. It reminds me of how I felt when I was little and I did not have any friends at school and felt like an outcast. I feel an even bigger outcast now than I did then.

The South African boys in the office have each other and their partners to go home to. Their partners have built a tight network and now have each other to lean on. And me? I have no one but myself. It is quite painful to sit and listen to the people you thought you would become friends with make dinner plans around you as if you are not even there. It’s even worse hearing about the parties that you were never invited to but would have loved to have been at. Thanks to social media it gets rubbed in your face over and over again when pictures are splashed all over feeds the following day. But don’t get me wrong, I am not looking for sympathy votes! As Ecclesiastes 3:1 says “for everything there is a season, a time for every matter under the heavens” and this I believe has been my season of loneliness.

With each season in our lives we are to learn something; in spring the promise of blessings to come, in summer the joy of giving, in autumn the wisdom of preparation and in winter we must learn patience and the blessing in growing in seclusion.

I have learned a lot from this past year and I hope that I do not hold onto the pain and bitterness that lingers in my heart. For the past few days I have repeatedly prayed that the Lord grants me a forgiving heart, a heart that lets go and doesn’t hold onto the hurt and pain it feels. This experience has, if nothing else, humbled me. It has also opened my eyes to just how much I love and value the friends I left at home. It is with newfound clarity that I reflect on and appreciate all they have taught me and just how much they have shaped my life. The most important lesson was the one my bestie reminded me of when she said, “Babe,don’t let them change who you are. It is in your very nature to be loving and giving. It is their loss if they do not appreciate all you do for them.”

Whilst the intellectual in me knows that you cannot force friendship and you cannot build one when the other person is not invested in doing so, it still saddens me to think of the longing left unfilled in my heart. And whilst my survival through the year has proven that friendship is unnecessary, like C.S. Lewis realised during his time, this survival means way less in the absence of friends to share war stories with.

Among Memories and Pieces of My Broken Heart


“You see the smile that’s on my mouth, it’s hiding the words that don’t come out. All of the friends who think I’m blessed, they don’t know I’m in this mess…”  ~ The Story, Brandi Carlile

Some people walk into and then out of your lives again before you even have time to acknowledge their presence. Others walk out and leave a lingering, haunting presence; the kind you cannot shake no matter how badly you want them to be erased from your memory. Memory, I believe is nature’s way of torturing broken hearts; much like my own. I resemble a lost soul that is tortured and caught in limbo between two worlds. I have been left behind in the graveyard where unburied pieces of my broken heart lay scattered. I have nothing to keep me company except old memories which threaten to swallow me whole. I know turning back is not an option, so I try to pick up the pieces as I move forward but when I look around me I am disappointed by just how little I have achieved. I want to cry or even shout out for help but then I realise my voice just won’t come out. So here I sit, among memories and pieces of my broken heart; unable to cry and unable to feel and unrecognisable to myself.

Seven weeks ago my life made sense. Seven weeks ago my life was filled with hope and promise. The harsh Scottish winter was finally giving way to the promise of spring and with it bringing me some much-needed light in what felt like the longest winter in my life. I was finally starting to feel a bit at home in this country, with its unfamiliar and oftentimes temperamental weather. I was finding my place at work and not hating it as much. Most of all my heart didn’t hurt as much from the pain caused by the one who’d disappeared out of my life with no explanation and without a trace. Looking back I ask myself whether I was just being naive for thinking I deserved the little bit of sunshine that I was starting to see peering from behind dark clouds that always seemed to hang close to me.

May 3,2011 will be etched in my brain forever. I will forever remember it as the day one misunderstanding sent a carefully spun web of lies and deceit crashing down. I will forever remember it as the day I discovered that the house I once thought was solid enough to withstand being separated by thousands of miles not only had cracks in the foundation, but was built on quicksand.

If you had asked me before this day to describe myself in as many words as I could think of, I would have come up with an impressive list ranging from determined, resilient to overly sensitive and somewhat aggressive. Gullible, unperceptive, stupid and home wrecker would not have made their way onto that list. But ever since discovering that I spent almost two years loving a man who had no intention of ever telling me that I was his filthy secret he had no intention of airing out, those are the new words I use to describe myself.

Day after day I replay separate segments of my relationship with him and I keep on asking the same question, over and over again, “HOW DID I MISS THIS? Did I learn nothing from the previous relationship that ended in a similar fashion?” As much as I am filled with hundreds of questions for him, I will never ask them because I know he has no intention of ever being honest with me. If he did would I have found out six months later from someone else that he was engaged? If he had cared at all for my well-being would he have started any form of relationship with me knowing his intentions. What kind of supposedly God-fearing man walks into your life, claims to understand your situation and that you are fragile and vows to look after your interests and to try never hurt you, knowing…knowing….knowing he grinds away your heart with every calculated step and action?

How does one get over this? I have been trying to figure this out every day for the 49 days and I don’t seem to be any closer to an answer. Instead I am still utterly humiliated, angry, baffled, depressed and filled with more hatred than I can bear to admit. My heart has become so hardened; I refuse to let more than a handful of people in anymore. Once trusted confidants might as well be strangers that I have just met. Strangers are kept on a simple one strike system, after all it was giving someone the benefit of doubt, multiple chances and wavering boundaries that got me into this mess. My mind will not let me feel anything for longer than a fleeting moment. All the while I smile,never acknowledging the hollow pain in the cavity where my heart once rested. And where is he while all this is happening? He is living his life, planning his wedding, buying baby clothes and preparing for the imminent arrival of his bundle of joy. Completely oblivious to the pain he impregnated my life with. And what is to become of my joy?

With this experience, my once clear vision has failed me to the point that I cannot see beyond the horizon. Whilst I have faith that God will heal my heart and make me whole once more, I do not think I can ever love another quite the same way again. My friendships will never be as innocent and doubt-free. Acquaintances will never be welcomed with the same openness and enthusiasm. My intuition and discernment failed me and now I don’t know if will ever be able to completely trust myself again let alone trust another man enough to want to build a life with them.

I lost the part of me that I treasured most that day, leaving me so debilitated by pain I have to wonder who the empty shell that stares back at me is every time I walk past a mirror. Sometimes I pray for God to allow me to cry but my tears are held captive behind an impenetrable wall I am not allowed through. Consequently I spend many sleepless nights and countless hours silently watching the memories float one by one in remarkable clarity and detail in front of my eyes. I let them play on and silently pray that they will wear themselves out and someday I will wake up and find myself free from their captivity. Until then I sit here, just me and these persistent, unwanted memories trying to make sense of it all, trying very hard to assemble the scattered pieces of my broken heart.

It Was Not Commissioned By God


” “No weapon forged against you will prevail,  and you will refute every tongue that accuses you.  This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and this is their vindication from me,” declares the LORD.”         ~ Isaiah 54 : 17 (NIV)

Friday November 13, 2009. For some this was just another day, others cannot even recall what they did on this day. For me, this is a day etched in my memory and a day when God showed me and left no doubt in my mind and heart that He, and only He, can take away my life and that He is indeed the author and finisher of my fate.  This blog is not dedicated to the works of the devil, so I refuse to make that the centre of this blog. I will describe what happened in as much detail as is absolutely necessary to understand what happened and what I was going through that day.

It started off as most of the days in that week had started. As with most mornings in my life, I was filled with grand, ambitious plans of things to do. On this particular morning plans centred around how I would  catch up with the study time I had lost from being in hospital for a week barely two weeks before. I was five days away from my second and final qualifying board exam. I had woken up early, made breakfast , was clad in my favorite study pajamas, was suitably drugged with newly prescribed antidepressants and anti-anxiety medication and was just getting ready to settle into my normal study routine. I cannot recall how it began or why it began but all I know is that by 8am things had begun their downward spiral.

I had often heard stories of how people know when they are about to die. A few years ago, I overheard my mother tell the story of a family friend who had sorted out all her affairs, cleaned out her house, packed up her belongings neatly in boxes, said her goodbyes to her family and friends and a few days later died in her sleep. I had somehow thought the same would happen for me. I thought maybe I would receive some form of signal from God to tell me that this was it. In the few days leading up to the 13th I had lived in fear for my life, and things had gotten to a point where I either slept with my Bible against my chest or with it on my pillow.The thought of the inscription on my tombstone  reading, “Nqobile Nokulunga Khumalo, Born: 18 February 1985, Died: 13 November 2009” just did not sound right to me. Yet somewhere in the world it had been determined that this was to be.

I have never believed in witchcraft and still don’t! I sadly live in a society where people think jealousy, hatred for someone who has never done anything to you are valid reasons to pay someone to have them killed. It had come to my attention earlier that week that such a plan for my life was and had been in force for a while. As much as I did not believe in spells and witchcraft, I could not ignore the feeling of being surrounded by darkness when I was in my flat and especially the blanket of blackness that suddenly fell all around me, even though a few minutes earlier it had been a perfectly sunny morning. Even harder to ignore was the memory of live maggots that swarmed my whole kitchen floor one morning, the dead flies that appeared out of nowhere after not having seen a single live one and mostly the cockroaches that had tormented me for months on end. I cannot even remember anything I did not try to rid myself of those cockroaches, they were everywhere! In my shower as I showered and some nights I would be woken up by the feeling of something crawling all over me and when I jumped out of bed and switch on the lights, I’d be traumatised by sight of my bed filled with roaches of all sizes. I have never believed in witchcraft and I say I again, I still don’t believe in it but I do know that it exists.

One of the last things I had done just before I slept the night before was say a prayer, that a friend of mine had given me, to cleanse myself and my flat of evil spirits . I believed that it would work even though back then I was not yet familiar with Luke 10:19, which gives us authority over ALL the works of the enemy. I remember being hot and very unsettled as I crawled into my bed, which is why that was one of the nights I had clasped onto my Bible as I fell asleep. I remember the sense of relief I felt when I woke up the following morning and tried to focus my eyes on the light that was peering through the blinds. I thought I was over the worst…I thought wrong.

I had barely been at my desk for an hour when I started feeling very hot, agitated and nauseous. I had this feeling that I could not shake that something was going horribly wrong. When I started getting a very strong feeling that I should throw myself out the window, I knew it was time to step away from the desk which was right against the window and crawl into bed. As I lay in bed I was bombarded with more thoughts of killing myself using various objects in the flat. I was quickly losing strength and grasp of what was happening. I phoned one of my friends and tried to tell her what was happening and almost immediately she said to me it was some form of evil spirit in my flat and should get out, go to the nearest church and get a pastor to pray for me. As she was talking to me I could feel my strength slipping away, I told her I could not even feel my legs anymore and my whole body felt like dead weight. All I could do was just start crying. I am grateful that she immediately got into her car and started making then fifteen minute drive to my house after collecting another friend. 

By the time they arrived, my quiet sobs had turned into full on hysteria. It was a fight to even get to the door. I had to slide on the floor with my back against the wall for me to get from my bedroom to go open the door. I was a complete mess, my Bible still clutched against me, I refused to let it go. I instinctively knew it was protecting me. Though I could not put it into words I knew that one of two things would happen for me to let it go. Either I was going to die holding firmly onto it and all God’s promises inscribed therein or God was somehow going to deliver me from this. My friends’ arrival started one of the longest  3 hours of my life.

They say your life flashes in front of you when you are about to die, mine didn’t! All I could feel and see was darkness. As much as I knew I had two friends with me, I could not really feel their presence. I was partial conscious of their presence and their attempts to hold onto me. At some points I would hear them praying, they would take turns holding me because I was tossing and squirming on the floor. From what they told me afterwards, the more they prayed the more I would fight them and want to either hurl myself against the wall or thrash myself against the floor. I was in sheer, undiluted pain! What was worse is I could not pinpoint the source of the pain. It started deep in spine and while they tried massaging my back, the pain would suddenly shoot up one of my arms and when they tried focusing on that arm it would suddenly be on a leg.  It seemed like my body was turning against itself and against me.

I remember one of them fetching a glass of water, praying for it and trying to get me to drink it. A drop had barely hit my lips when I screamed in agony as it felt like boiling lava was being forced down my throat. They held me down and tried to get me to drink a little more. I cannot even describe the pain that followed for what felt like eternity after that. While I lay on the floor, resting my head on one of them, I remember things suddenly calming down. I felt my heart slow down so much it felt like it would surely stop altogether. One by one it felt like my organs were shutting down. I could suddenly feel organs in my body that I had only seen on a biology chart in school. I was convinced that that was it, that was the end of my life on this earth. When we talked with my friends they admitted that at that point they had not known what to do and as I had started calming down they thought I was slipping away, that I was dying in their arms. But it was not to be! It was not commissioned by God!

In the still of it all, the light started returning. I could feel the air filling my lungs once more. The first thing I said when I opened my eyes was, “I can see the light again”.  I looked at the watch, I had been “out” for over three hours. Despite all the commotion my Bible was still snugly in my one arm and in the other a rosary that one of my friends had placed there after she’d arrived. I looked at both of them and they had been crying. Even to this day, I have never seen the fear that I saw in their eyes but somehow they had remained strong for me and had not left me. I sometimes wonder, if roles were reversed would I have done the same? Would I have walked straight into a battlefield knowing I was fighting the unseen? 

“We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” These words from Ephesians 6:12 became very real to all three of us on this day.

I remain so grateful for being blessed with these wonderful women. Were it not for their presence, their prayers and strength I would not be here recalling the events of that day. It was a year ago yesterday but even as I think about it now I am in awe. Not at the works of the devil but at the works of my Lord, my God. He said no. He refused to let me go. As much as it sounds weird but I am grateful for that day. That was the day the devil was defeated once and for all. That’s the day he was unequivocally taught that my life is not his for the taking. Nothing will ever happen so long as it is not commissioned by God and God alone.

As I was writing this I couldn’t help but smile as I thought of a Bishop TD Jakes sermon that I heard a few weeks ago. He was talking about how we should never run away from the mess that God creates in our lives because out of our biggest messes are our greatest blessings born.  As much as I did not have the luxury of time that most of my colleagues that I was writing that board exam did, I had one thing on my side….The ruler of heaven and earth. God turned what was supposed to be a disaster into something tremendous. Friendships were cemented on the 13th of November 2009, faith renewed, lives rebirthed. Because my Father is a show off, I passed my exam. He could have taken me around the red sea, but he took me right through it!