TESTIMONY: FREEDOM IN PRISON

My son, Christoff, became a Gideon at the end of 2018. Just before Christmas another Gideon, doctor Chris Thirion, took Christoff with him on a prison Bible placement. While Christoff was praying for the Bible placement, God showed him the image of a prisoner with a large scar beneath his left eye. For seven years the Gideons were not allowed to place Bibles at Harrismith prison. Only since 2019, the Gideons were allowed to visit the jail and hand Bibles to inmates. They could never hand out more that 50 Bibles at a time. Christoff and Chris walked from section to section, but could not see any prisoner with a scar underneath his left eye. At the last section the person with a scare suddenly appeared before them. “I don’t want a Bible from you!” he said. Christoff turned to the man and said: “But I have a message from the Lord for you – will you please forgive your mother?” Suddenly this hardened criminal fell to his knees and grabbed Christoff by the legs. He started to cry. He could forgive his mother! Suddenly the other inmates rushed forward to receive a Bible. That morning in December, just before Christmas, 476 Testaments were placed. What a wonderful gift for them who were dejected, without hope and vision, confined to the prison cells. Since then Chris and Christoff visit the prisoners every second Saturday and then bring a message of hope and encouragement for the men. As Psalms 107: 10 & 13 says: “Some sat in darkness and in the shadow of death, prisoners in affliction and in iron… Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress.”

Mom’s turning point from the claw of drugs and abuse by Mel de Bruyn

I grew up with a sister two years younger than me. My parents were always happily married and are still married today. Our family was never well-off financially, but we had all our needs met. I was raised in a Christian home where my mom taught us about God and His love. Despite this, I always felt like an outsider and ended up experimenting with alcohol in high school.

A shame to my family I fell pregnant at the age of twenty and it was a huge crisis for my family to deal with as I was not raised to be so irresponsible. My son was born healthy and he changed
my life forever. I ended up getting engaged to a man I thought I was in love with. He was not my son’s father, but I thought that I needed to have a man in my life to complete my family. This was a huge mistake and I ended up being abused for the duration of our six-year marriage. He broke me down in every way possible – physically, verbally and emotionally. We had two more children
together. He left me twice during the course of our marriage and it was during this time that I discovered drugs.

The wide road of destruction I believed the drugs would numb my pain and ease the emptiness in my life. I felt alone and far from God and with all I had done wrong, didn’t feel that I could turn to Him. My marriage finally came to an end, but instead of turning to my family and God for help, I became even more dependent on drugs. This took me down a very destructive road where I
got involved with all sorts of criminal activity. I ended up getting arrested and spending more time in holding cells than I can remember. God answered my plea for help. On one occasion, I was sitting in a cell on a Sunday morning, crying bitterly. I was desperate for a life other than the one I was caught up in when unexpectedly, the door to the cell opened and a man walked in.
He asked me whether we could have a chat. I was terribly embarrassed about my situation, but agreed to see him. He told me that he represented.

The Gideons and explained to me that despite the crisis I found myself in, God’s infinite love and mercy made it possible for me to experience His grace and acceptance, if only I would turn my life, including all my problems, over to Him. I cried a lot, sitting with the Bible he gave me and read it, tears wetting the pages.

A fresh start I still carried on with my life of crime and drugs, but I never forgot that man and his kind words. I eventually realised that I couldn’t continue with my way of life anymore and reported to a rehabilitation facility where I received the necessary treatment. I was cured of my addiction and have been ‘clean’ ever since. I now work at a night shelter where I try to show others that there is hope for rehabilitation and that it is indeed possible to return to a normal, drug-free lifestyle.

God protected me when I was in a dark pit I have reconnected with God and looking back, I can see His hand of protection on my life. In the dark days of my addiction, no harm ever came to me and I came through my ordeal completely unscathed. I truly believe that having lived on the streets and being an addict has given me the tools to be able to help others who are also in the same
situation. I will never forget the kindness and love that the man from The Gideons showed me that Sunday morning, four years ago. He displayed love without any judgment and it taught me to keep persevering and love others who I met in life. Christ made me a new creation All the relationships I thought were destroyed have been restored! I have an amazing family, three beautiful children and parents who are proud of me today. I am currently investigating the possibility of further study and to enroll for a degree in psychology or counseling in order to better
equip me in the pursuit of my dream to help others in their fight against drug abuse. It is a great blessing to see the joy that a word from the Lord can bring to the people I get to work with. Thank you Gideons for the work you do!