I was born in Mariental, Namibia, to a policeman father and a nurse mother. We moved to South Africa when I was about four-years-old, and my father started working at a mine. As a result of my dad working his way up in the mining industry, we relocated many times. I attended five schools in total; for a little girl, this was devastating. Each time we moved, I would arrive at a new school where friendships had already been forged. Loneliness and the need to perform for others’ approval had a major impact on me. Not only was I the new girl, but I was also extremely overweight! So I was the fat, new kid on the block!
After I had matriculated in Potchefstroom, I stayed there to study graphic design. I lived there for eight years, the longest amount of time I had ever lived in one place up to that point. It was a small town, and I knew loads of people. I had an extensive circle of friends there.
At this stage, I was Godless, to say the least. I mocked people who went to church, and thought the whole reborn-Christian-thing was a sect whose essence was based on a myth. I once attended a charismatic church where they baptised people in what looked like the biggest aquarium you have ever seen. I laughed so much at these people with their white cloaks that the other people in church thought I had been ‘slain in the Spirit’–which only made me laugh more.
To take the edge off my depression, I fell into smoking dagga. This progressed into smoking joints every day, and eventually, I knew I was emotionally dependent on the drug. It would give me a high, but on the way down, I would find myself just seeking to get back to the high again. Like all drugs, it provided an escape and created a space to hide from life. To say that I was trapped would be the truth, because my behaviour continued like that for more than two years.
In the meantime, my parents had moved to Cape Town, and it was decided that I would follow them there after completing my studies. When the time came, I relocated to Welgemoed: no job, no friends. I couldn’t find a job. The graphic design industry in Cape Town was very competitive for someone who came straight from a university in a small town with insufficient practical experience.
After six months, my parents knew I was in a deep, dark place, and they literally nagged me to go to church. I was so weak and lonely that I just decided to go. It was so weird. I remember watching people during worship and realising that these people really meant it; it intrigued me. What did they know that I didn’t? Who were they connecting with?
After a few visits to church, Louis du Piesanie invited me to the “White House”–the ‘commune’ he shared with the Year of Your Life students and certain church staff. He took us on a tour of the commune, and I remember him showing us his room, saying that it would be the room he and his wife would live in one day. I recall thinking, “Who would be stupid enough to marry someone without a salary, while hiding in ‘ministry,’ and staying in this room?!”
Well, as it turns out, I was that girl.
After some weeks, Louis and Mary* led me to the Lord and I was radically transformed! Mary* gave me ‘Jesus lessons’ every Thursday evening. She would visit me at work and became a lifeline for me. Louis just so happened to go on outreaches with his students for the next six weeks, and the commune was empty and quiet; so, I spent more time visiting there than usual.
I fell hard for God, and I loved Him so much!
I got baptized (which is a funny story for another day). I was Spirit-filled and happy for the first time in years, maybe even ever.
When Louis came back from outreach, we became friends. He even took me on a date with another girl. Afterward, I told him we needed to talk. I took out a cigarette and asked him, “So, who is the date, and who is the chaperone?” He said neither and that he just wanted friends.
So, we became really good friends. I even went on holiday with him and his family. In fact, we became such good friends that Louis counseled me out of a relationship with another guy, and then asked me to marry him the very next day. I remember that when he asked me, I truly saw myself in his eyes.
Unfortunately, Mary* turned her back on me at this stage as she was offended by my relationship with Louis. It was my first knock in the Kingdom. I felt confused and hurt. I remember telling God, “Lord this feels a lot like my life before Jesus.” To make matters worse, an influential member of the Bible School wrote a letter to the senior pastor stating that I would destroy Louis’ ministry. The senior pastor told us that he would only believe our relationship was ‘from God’ if we survived ten years of marriage. I was devastated.
I had made myself vulnerable by serving Jesus. My defenses were down, and I was getting one blow after the other. I held onto those hurts for years. I could remember that letter, word for word. When I first met Louis and Edna Els, I struggled to open my heart to them, fearing that they would only see what the others saw. I feared that they would confirm that I was, indeed, a threat to Louis’ ministry.
But the relationship I shared with Louis and Edna actually unlocked the process of me being SET FREE. By consistently loving me and teaching me how relationships work, they opened my eyes–not only toward restoring my relationships with people, but to helping me understand God’s unconditional love for me. They helped me understand that