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Testimony of Martin van der Merwe

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I can remember that from an early age I spent many hours in front of the television, I virtually grew up in front of the TV. To me the TV was a source of training on exactly what I should do when wanting to sin, and how to hide my sin from people. Early in life I started lying to my parents, and sometimes stole small things. One day at a church service I felt that I wanted to give my life to the Lord Jesus, and I prayed a sinner’s prayer. It didn’t last long and I soon started doing all my old sins again. I continually watched TV and loved movies and worldly music. More than once did I pray the sinner’s prayer, and once after such a prayer I really tried hard. In the evenings I used to go from home to home handing out tracts, being about st. 3 at that stage. I started learning the Bible and sometimes led people on street to the Lord with a sinner’s prayer, but it was all bluff. At home I still lied and deceived my parents. At school I eyed the girls. Initially I hid my sins well. On the outside I looked pretty neat and deceived people. In st.6 I tried to live irreproachably and had a good name with the teachers. I remember how I always said that smokers were bad people, not my kind.

Then I made friends with someone who smoked and suddenly I started attending the school dances. I was a ringleader. I also started drinking, my whole attitude changed and I ruined my reputation. At the end of st.8 I left school, an absolute rebel, then already an alcoholic. I went to the Technical College in town, but also there I dragged my name through the mud. Due to my misdeeds I was often ashamed to look people in the eye. I didn’t believe that I had a problem with alcohol. I left that college after a year and moved to my grandparents in another town, where I attended a new college and tried to turn over a new leaf. Before long I had a reputation at this college as well, with some people calling me "Bachus". I had friends who used drugs and later joined them in drinking cough mixture. Later on I started working and sometimes arrived at work drunk. I loved dancing and frequented the discos, listened to "heavy metal" music and wore jeans, leather jackets and belts with studs. I smoked dagga and despised black people, associating myself with the so-called Wit-wolwe (White wolves) and BAT – Boere aanvalstroepe (Afrikaner attack troops). Fortunately I never really joined these groups. When we wanted dagga the black people were suddenly good enough again - we bought dagga in their locations.

My sins started to catch up with me.

I was depressed and saw no way out. One day at work I stole the firearm of my boss and decided to take my own life. I was sitting in a small toilet at the back of the shop, behind a closed door on the cold cement floor. The next moment like lightning, it was as if I heard a voice, "What about your parents?" I don't know how long I was there. My handpalms were wet with sweat, and I realised that I must take my life now. The next moment the door opened and my boss was standing in front of me. It was an embarrassment. Even this experience did not change my life.

I resigned my job and moved to Namibia with a friend. About 9 months later I returned to South Africa and knocked on my parents’ door with only two suitcases of clothing in my hands. One evening I stood on the veranda of my parents’ home and decided to go to the city and become a tramp. I was tired of trying to live right and couldn’t carry on anymore. I just wanted to say farewell to my parents and disappear.

When I looked up at the stars the next moment, with a cigarette in one hand and a mug of coffee in the other, my life started appearing before my mind’s eye like a film. All my sins appeared before me, and how my parents had prayed for me, and how I had crucified the Lord Jesus with my sins. Previously I had been hard and couldn’t cry even if I wanted to. That evening, however, with the realisation of what I had done to the Lord, and what He had done for me, I wept like a baby. Everything in me broke down. I thought I would die since I had seen my sins passing before my eyes. I went into the house and confessed all the sins I had seen to my parents, and apologised to them. Broken, I then went on my knees and pleaded with the Lord for mercy, I confessed everything. After this I went to KwaSizabantu Mission and once again came under the conviction of sin. Just the people’s singing brought me under conviction of sin. Once again I saw sins in my life which I hadn’t seen the first time, and openly brought my sins into the light. One of the missionaries prayed with me and the Lord set me free from smoking, drinking and drugs. Now, since the beginning of 1997 I can

testify with confidence that the Lord Jesus still carries and keeps me every day, and I want to live for Him till the end. May His Name alone be glorified.

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