Stephanus' Testimony

I came to a knowledge and deep conviction of sin and my desperate lack of righteousness and of Christ’s righteousness and holiness and judgment in March 1992.

After coming out of the military in 1991 I had started catching wild animals with a team of game catchers. On one of these trips while catching Impala in the Northern part of South Africa, I got malaria without knowing it. A week later I got sick. I got worse and worse and then one morning very early in the morning my Aunt took me to the doctor and he diagnosed me with malaria (our home area of South Africa does not have malaria so most doctors are not even looking out for it and often the malaria then goes so far that people die from it). Coming back from the doctor that morning, I was in the passenger seat laying down, looking at the majestic sandstone cliffs on the mountains in our area. The sun was just coming out behind the mountain that was still covered with a blanket of clouds now turned golden yellow with orange and red and a silver edge to the cloud. It was a beautiful sight and at first I was appreciating it as anyone would. But then in one moment it was as if God himself shone a light on His awesome creation and I laid in awe as I sensed God’s Holiness of Character, purity and beauty in all this. It was an amazing touch. The very next moment while I was still in awe about this the same light turned and shone into my heart. Immediately I came under such a deep sense of conviction of sin and unrighteousness. I saw the most horrible corruption & rottenness, so opposite from what God is.

In the light of this revelation I did not try to look my best. I knew I was utterly lost and hell bound. I started crying right there, without being able to help it, as a 21 year old man, with the reality of eternal death in my face because of my sin-cursed life. I told the Lord then, “Lord, just take my life and do with it whatever you want. I made a mess out of my life, I messed it up. Just take it and do whatever You want with it.” I was so thankful that He did not take my life while I was sick with malaria because I was not ready to meet Him face to face.
 
I responded well to the malaria medication and soon I was better again. With the passing months I had a new awareness of God’s reality but it was not the rebirth yet. Today I know it was just the process towards the New birth. I didn’t have any true Christians around me at that time, only Nominal church goers, so I had no Christian help.

About two months later I met 2 ladies that spoke to me about my life, sin, Christ, the lukewarm church, the falling away of pastors, etc. While they were talking to me the same feeling of unrighteousness and lost state came over my entire soul. I knew I was headed for hell and often when I was alone I would just start crying because of my soul’s condition.

I tried to read the Bible for answers but I found no solution for my state of sin and the reality of hell that burned in my heart. I knew that God was not in my life. But in fact, His Holy Wrath was burning against me. I tried to make contact with Him reading Bible, pray, etc but all felt useless. The more I read the Word looking for answers, the more I got convicted of sin. For 2-3 weeks I cried whenever I found myself alone and thought about my lost state. Finally I called one of the ladies and told her that I needed to talk to her because there were things that were not right in my life and I needed answers. She responded by inviting me to come over to their farm for the weekend and then we could talk.

That Saturday night we sat down and she explained the scriptures to me. She spoke a lot that night and I remember very little of what she said except for the scriptures she used which will forever remain with me.

1. You can keep quiet now but one day your sin will be shouted from the rooftops for all to hear.
2. Your sin will find you out. (and I knew it)
3. Num 23:19 God is not a man that He can lie. He will not say something and not do it.
4. I John 1:9 “If you confess …”
5. And he promises never to think of it again.

She pulled out piece of paper and a pen and said, “Start writing down all that sin, confess it to the Lord.” And I did. I did not care about feeling ashamed any more. I wanted to come clean. I didn’t even care if she read it, as long as God would forgive me. I started with the worst, rotten thing I could think of and worked my way through all the things on my conscience. When I was finished, she took it and read it. Then she burned the paper in the fireplace and said , “As you confessed it, God forgave it, and forgets it. He will never remember it again. He says in His Word that as far as the east is from the west so far will He remove our sin from us."

After that I knew I had obeyed God as far as I could but I still didn’t feel right with God. I still felt lost and still had turmoil going through me. Maybe it was for others but God is not interested in me anymore. I thought I’ll be lost forever and I cried my heart to pieces. I had gone outside late at night because I just wanted to be alone. I was in the cattle crawl my burden still not lifted when all of a sudden something struck me. That it was impossible for the devil to be saved any more. But I saw how God made every effort to get through to me - showing me my own sin, the people who could help me, and the truth that can set free. I recognized the devils attack and the fact that I leaned on feelings too much (we are so apt to want to feel when we should be standing on God's promises) (others want to stand on promises before they have dealt properly with the depth of their sin problem as the Lord said they should).  I realized that it was too late for the devil to ever be saved but I saw and recognized how God had made personal time and effort to reach out to my lost soul and help me to obey and believe Him.

Immediately when I saw this I started to thank God for His mercy and rebuked the devil and his attack in Jesus name. The burden rolled away and I found myself praising God in a way that was like fresh morning dew for the first time in my entire life.

I went to sleep that night with all the peace in the world combined with a brand new life and all horrible sin pardoned forever. What a GOD we serve! Words can never express that free feeling that kindles our love for the Lord. The next morning I was scheduled for another class that I knew nothing about. But this experience would become foundational in my relationship with the Lord. I woke up and an ocean of doubts and guilt was flooding my mind. I could've cried. I asked for the Lord but I could not feel his peace or hear his voice. Again I doubted that it was meant to last for me. Maybe for others but I'm too weak too useless for God. As soon as I could I went outside to a dry creek where there was only sand and some willow trees on the edges. Here I was sitting on a dead willow log and I just cried with tears running down my cheeks because of my doomed state and useless life that would be my fate forever and there's nothing I could do about it. Right here it happened -- the mind blowing revelation that became my foundation over the years. Something so personalized that I can never go through any difficult time or situation without some or other time thinking of this again. Through my blurry eyes filled with tears of a hopeless useless life God gave me a vision of my Savior hanging on that cross and instantly it swept over my mind that this is the man that saves me from my hopeless useless reality. And that it's not about me it's about HIM. It's not about my righteousness but all and only about HIS. It was like God branded me with this revelation. It burnt so deep into my being that I can never be the same again. This was my morning of mornings. To Him be all glory! And about these truths I can never be quiet again. There are too many others still in the condition I was in.

Before this experience I could not pray in public. On my 20th birthday my Dad asked me to ask the blessing for the food and I could not. In fact, I said, ”No, I don’t want to” with tears in my eyes. That night, when I obeyed Christ and confessed my sin, for the first time I could pray publicly with that lady that led me to Christ and later anywhere else.

I started reading the Bible all day and into the night, sometimes through the night, even getting up at 2 or 3 in the morning, just because I could not stay away from the Bible. This carried on for about 3 months until I found that I knew the Word of God better, only then could I start relaxing. My family started warning me that I must not get involved in a sect. I remembered how I would try to have regular quiet times in the morning and evening with an unregenerated heart but never had a real interest and anyway, I couldn’t understand God’s word. But now, after Jesus came to me where he found me laying in my own blood and said, “Live”, now life was bubbling up within me without me having to do anything. It was a gift from heaven.

Immediately, the Lord started speaking to me about some of my habits, worldly loves, relationships, etc. I had a girlfriend in this time and the Lord spoke to me about how it was impossible for me to stay pure in my mind and heart as long as I was in a relationship with the opposite sex. It was soon broken up completely and I never got involved in a relationship again till the Lord gave me a wife through the guidance of brothers around me. Like Adam was asleep while God prepared his wife for him, I wanted to be asleep towards the opposite sex. This was very difficult at times. He showed me how Isaac was in the field busy with the things of the Lord when the Lord brought his wife to him. I wanted this too. In my heart I knew God gives the best to those who leave the choice to Him.

He spoke to me about my clothes and how I chose my clothes. I felt it on my heart to take the clothes I had chosen so carefully to present my body to the opposite sex in the best way possible, and burn it in a fire.

I did the same with my music. Country, pop, rock, and oldies, I burnt it all for it proclaimed not the Lord but the love of the world. My music had been a big god to me.

The Savior of my soul also asked me to flee the lusts of the youth in dancing.

I also saw if I sat before the TV how my love for Him cooled down and I left that too. Magazines that had indecently dressed women, humanistic articles in newspapers, places where there were indecently dressed women (like swimming pools and beaches) - these things I felt that I should flee.

I threw out the liquor collection I had started. I stopped going into bars and liquor stores.

The changes in my life brought a huge gap between me and my family and friends. They could not understand my new convictions.

I felt the Lord would have me write down all the names of the girls I had had immoral links to and write all of them a letter in which I asked their forgiveness for tempting them into fornication.

I had to take things back to people I had stolen from. I wrote letters asking forgiveness to all I had bad relationships with because of arguing and past conflicts.

I had to take stuff back to the military which I had made disappear because I wanted it.

I had committed fraud with an insurance company and the Lord led me to go back after 4 years of silence and give back what I stole. They kept referring me higher and higher until I sat in the office of the head guy over our state. They made a payment plan for me to pay it back and asked if they could publish it in their monthly newsletter.

On and on I could continue. Some were a struggle before I obeyed the Lord’s commands and wishes. It was hard to finely burn the worldly things I loved, but I did it because it could not compare with the love of Jesus for me and I knew He would not allow me to have both. I had to firmly choose between Himself or the world’s things and ways. I still today can not understand how people can be worldly while claiming to be washed by the blood of Christ.

Today I know Jesus got a hold of me because of sovereign mercy and I had nothing to do with it.

I was baptized in May 1992 by one of the older ladies that led me to Christ.

After I got saved in March of 1992 and immediately I had an overwhelming conviction and zeal to share what the Lord has done for me with others. The first night after the Lord helped me to find Him. After I confessed my sin to the person who shared the gospel with me, I prayed for a friend after which in the next few days he made his life right with the Lord. This was an incredible experience after the Lord just used a simple prayer. I simply became aware that the Lord will work when our lives are clean and pure. No fame is needed, no incredible background, not even academic prestige, plain and simple - holiness and simple obedience to the voice of our Lord. As the months rolled past, the feeling of sharing the gospel increasingly became stronger until I could not resist obeying the Lord’s voice to commit myself in ministry. At this point, I had no idea what a missionary was or even what to do so I joined a mission organization that one of my old military friends told me about for one year.

We did some practical training in evangelism to Muslims and street work in the inner cities, confronting people on the street with the gospel, seminars, giving Basic Gospel seminars from village to village, preaching, teaching, etc., film and tract evangelism. In this year we also pioneered a work into war torn countries where there was constant fighting between the Communist government and anti-Communist rebels. After I completed my year with the organization, I continued the work on my own. I mainly assisted the persecuted church who had not seen a missionary since 1974 when the war broke out. I assisted them with smuggling Bibles into the rebel areas and preaching and teaching in their churches. Here I learned under persecution, how the true church unifies and silly arguments disappear.

This I did until July, 1998 when I got married to Rose.

Since then besides preaching and teaching, we've done a lot of one-on-one counseling and some marriage counseling.

Since we have had seven children the Lord has also given us opportunities to speak about what He has been teaching us about training godly children.

Our desire is to be a blessing to others in small way who are either awakened to it or are busy growing in the same convictions. 

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