God has been gracious to me. He has done so much for me and my family and in sharing His great deeds in our lives, I find new strength every time I do so. I am from Cape Town in South Africa. I grew up in a religious institution which claimed to be the only way to God. The result is that I blindly followed all its teachings because I wanted to please God and be close to Him. But through a near tragedy, He set me on a journey in which He, with undeserved kindness, opened my eyes to His truth and revealed Jesus Christ to me. I am thankful for another opportunity to share. This is my story:
I have learned two things concerning my testimony. One being that it was written in God’s book even before I was born (All the days ordained for me is written in Your book before one of them came to be –Psalm 139:16b). The other thing I have learnt is that my testimony changes. The facts don’t change, but my understanding of the facts change as my understanding of God grows.
In order to place the events in a context, I will just give you a brief background in which God chose these events to take place. I was raised and grew up in a church which claimed (at one stage anyway) that they are the only continuation of the first apostles of the early church. They alone had “living” apostles. They also claimed sole proprietorship of the Holy Spirit.
If you were not a member of this denomination, there is no way you could have the Holy Spirit. Since they found these claims to raise some eyebrows in the general Christian community, they’ve backed off a little. But they still declare you a “lost soul” if you leave the denomination.
I think they’ve changed that part of their gospel, but then again, they’ve been changing the gospel they preach since forever. It’s hard to stick to one story if you’re not telling the truth. Ironically, although they claimed to be the continuation of the first apostles, they did many things and preached many things exactly the opposite to that of the first apostles. Whereas the first apostles declared, “We do not preach ourselves,” (2 Corinthians 4:5) they preached themselves for salvation. According to them, faith in Christ is not enough to save you. You also had to have faith in God’s “holy apostles” to be saved.
Whereas the first apostles bent themselves over backwards to ensure that all financial matters were handled with the utmost transparency before all believers (see 2 Corinthians 8:16-24), they are very secretive concerning the finances of the church. The first apostles declared that they have renounced secret and shameful ways (2 Corinthians 4:2), but these men embrace secret and shameful ways.
The first apostles refused to use deception and or distort the word of God, while these men arrive at their doctrines by using Scriptures out of context with what the rest of the Bible is saying, and they pervert His word without so much as blinking an eye. There is much more that I can say about them, but I will leave it there.
I was a very dedicated member of this denomination and my husband was a pastor of one of their congregations when tragedy struck our home on 22 August 2003. Our 4 year old son, Jarryd, fell into the pool and by the time we got him out, we suspect about 15 minutes have passed. There was no life in him. His body hang limp, his face was blue as my husband lifted him up towards me with a distraught look on his face.
During his late teens and early adulthood, Hyran was a lifeguard. He has saved many children from drowning during that time. He also knew the signs of being too late. He saw those very signs in his own son that day.
God gave me a special sense of calm during the unfolding of these events. Firstly, I was able to calmly take Jarryd from my husband, lay him down and start CPR. My husband, numb with shock couldn’t even call the ambulance, and I couldn’t interrupt the CPR.
I prayed that God would send someone to calm down my husband and call the ambulance. God did that. Someone, on his way from work that Friday afternoon, decided to take a different route home. He passed our home at the exact time my husband ran outside. He knew us well and seeing that something was wrong, came in and helped to calm him down. Our neighbour called the ambulance shortly thereafter.
The paramedics arrived about 10 minutes later and asked me to step aside as they adeptly went about their task. For all the time I was busy, Jarryd had no heartbeat and no breathing. There was no response whatsoever. About another 10 minutes later, they found a faint pulse.
He was taken to hospital, where he was admitted to ICU. The paediatrician who saw him had no hope for the situation. He had 20 years experience with near-drowning cases and based on that experience and his medical knowledge, he gave us the facts straight. He doesn’t believe Jarryd would make it. But if he should, he will be severely brain damaged. His brain was without oxygen for too long.
By the time Jarryd was discharged into our care, all the signs of brain damage were there. There was no mistaking that. However, I couldn’t see that. I am in the medical profession myself, but was completely blinded to the medical facts. I kept on believing he would recover.
Two weeks later, we found ourselves in the doctor’s office. He examined Jarryd and told us that there is no hope of any recovery. In fact, he suggested that we institutionalize him as that may probably be the best option for all concerned. He will never walk, talk, sit, nor eat independently. He will never again recognize who we are, he cannot hear us and there is a possibility that he is blind too.
It was then that my medical knowledge got the better of my positive attitude. I left there a broken woman. Suddenly all the doctor said made complete sense to me and I looked at my son and realized that there is indeed enough evidence that points to the fact that he will never recover.
My broken heart soon became filled with anger. I was angry at God. I believed God was punishing me by doing this to my son. As everyone made their way to bed that night, and Jarryd was lying on a little bed we made for him downstairs, I looked at him for a long time. Arms and legs were moving involuntarily in all directions. His eyes were floating from side to side, not focusing. He was completely unresponsive to sound and visual stimuli. He was an empty shell. His body was there. His soul was gone. That’s what it looked like to me. Then, I decided to have a talk with God as my anger at him intensified.
For hours I let Him know what I think of the situation, what I think of Him! What I knew about the Bible before this incident, was the limited verses I was taught in church -verses carefully chosen to promote a certain doctrine. But I had the Bible with me.
After I became quiet, my eyes fell on Romans 4 where it is written that Abraham against all hope in hope believed. There was no logical, scientific reason for Abraham’s hope of having a son. He only had the promise of God. He clung to that with all that he had in him and God certainly didn’t disappoint him.
Suddenly I was filled with life. I jumped up. Something happened to me. I just knew that God was telling me that I should in this case ignore the facts and focus on what He can do. I just knew Jarryd was going to be okay from that moment on. God’s word filled me with an energy I cannot explain with human words.
I rushed with the Bible still dangling in the one hand over to my son’s side. I knelt by his bed. The house was quiet. I told him that his mommy will never give up hope on him. And with that, the apparently “deaf” boy became quiet. No more involuntary movements. And above all, tears started rolling down his little cheeks. My baby could hear me! But more than that: He understood what I was saying. I was certain of that.
From the very next day, he started making gradual progress. This steady improvement continued for a couple of months until finally he could walk again. As he reached every new milestone, the doctors were astonished. They marvelled at his progress. Now, my son is nearly 13 years old and perfectly normal. He is a constant reminder in our household that nothing is impossible with God. The Lord’s arm is not too short.
Three years later the Lord Jesus entered my heart. The change was radical. Within days I developed a love and hunger for the Bible and I couldn’t stop talking about Jesus. I could never get enough of His Word. I was soaking it up like a sponge, every free minute I had.
A few months before that day, I decided I wanted to read the Bible regularly. I didn’t get very far. I found it to be a boring and difficult book to comprehend. But this experience only made the change that took place stand out all the more. Now I understood what I read and furthermore, I loved what I read. Both me and my husband left the religious institution soon after and the Lord allowed me and my family to enter into the wonderful freedom for which Christ has set us free.
In conclusion I would like to say: Did you know that the Bible says anyone (irrespective of religious titles or social standing, even angels) will be eternally condemned if they preach a gospel different to the one that the first apostles preached? See Galatians 1:8-9. That’s quite serious. So the inevitable question is then, “What did the first apostles preach?”
Well, let me first tell you what they did not preach. They never preached you are saved by allegiance to a certain denomination. They never preached you are saved by church attendance. They never preached you are saved by having faith in a certain ministry. Here is what they did preach: We are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. The Way to God is not locked up in any religious institution.
The right Way is a Person, namely Jesus Christ who said, “I AM the Way” (John 14:6). He is the way to the Father. Seek Him only and ask Him to help you understand the Scriptures. He will gladly answer that prayer if you believe that He paid the penalties for your sins and that you are made right with God by faith in Christ Jesus and not by allegiance to a certain denomination or by your good works.