In January 2011, I left my home in New Germany to study at Stellenbosch University. Just over a year later – on the 12th of August 2012 – God transformed my interactions with others, daily habits, and even life goals!
Before I met God
I started at Stellenbosch in a state of emotional apathy. My primary goal in life was to succeed in my studies so that I could find a well-paying job and buy a nice car – specifically an Audi – and a large house, with no concerns about financial security. But this goal was empty. Looking ahead at my life, the future seemed bleak.
My relationships with other people were weak to non-existent; I felt that other people were valuable only in as far as they provided amusement, or a service. This came through so strongly in my interactions that, when my second-year roommate told a female friend of his (who later became his wife) that we would be rooming together, she responded with tears and begged him to reconsider!
Although I didn’t yet know it, God had a wonderful plan for me.
An act of obedience
Like many South Africans, I had grown up with ready access to Bibles. I had even been to a few church services, and was sure that God existed – but it seemed like such an impersonal fact. What difference did it make to my life that He existed?
Unbeknown to me, there was a group of young men meeting in my res building, who were on fire for God, praying together regularly. During one of these prayer meetings – right next door to my room! – the group was moved to give me a New Testament Bible, which one of their members rather sheepishly did.
To this day, I can’t pin-point what made me pick it up and read it. I can only attribute it to the work of the Holy Spirit drawing me to God, but pick it up I did, and became completely absorbed! What I was reading was so life-altering that I needed to know as much as I could.
I began intercepting people in the corridors who I knew were Christians, knocking on their doors, and pestering them with questions. Within two weeks, I had sped through the whole New Testament. I think they invited me to church partly out of self-preservation! There, I found a foundations course that would teach me some of what I so desperately wanted to know.
Two weeks after being handed that Bible, I had the joy of phoning my grandmother – who had spent my whole life praying for me – and telling her I had committed the rest of my life to following God. From there, the change was undeniable!
Suddenly, people had value – they were made by God, and I could relate to and feel compassion for them. I made a series of decisions, from attending church regularly and getting involved with courses, to becoming part of a life group. I began telling as many people as I could about God – I wanted everyone to know the amazing truth about Him. This included physically chasing a classmate who was a professed atheist down the street!
Transformation as a process
Some of the changes were not immediate. I was carrying emotional baggage that meant relationships with others were not always easy, and I’m still very introverted! Many Sundays, I had to force myself to go to church, because I had built a habit of avoiding things like “crowds” and “vibes” my whole life through – but I knew that church and small group involvement would be crucial to my spiritual growth, and so I built the habits, continuing them when I moved back to Durban, where I have had so many experiences of practicing hearing God’s voice and acting obediently!
My goals in life are far removed from the purely material ones I once had! I now aim to go where God leads, live in obedience to Him, and love His people. I have the privilege of leading a life group, filled with people who I care for deeply – including my wife, who has her own devoted relationship with God. The future is filled with joy and anticipation, and my life is filled with contentment and awe at the kindness of God towards me.