Religious and Sinful Jannie Viljoen.

Religious and Sinful A PERSONAL TESTIMONY Jannie Viljoen

I grew up in a typical religious “Afrikaner” home. I was baptized as a baby, went faithfully to Sunday School, catechism classes and was eventually, at the age of 16 years, confirmed as a member of my church. Although these things made my parents proud, it had no spiritual impact on my life, and after leaving my parent’s home at the completion of matric in 1972, I overthrew with complete abandonment all these religious “restraints” that I grew up with. During the following year as I did my compulsory military service and afterwards as a college student, I embraced with full abandonment the world and its sinful ways and all things that Satan presented to me as “pleasure.” Because of my religious background I still saw myself as a Christian, but the Bible, prayer and the church was not a part of my existence. These things would only be a hindrance in my life of “wine, women and song.” Little did I realize that the Word of God warns that: “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death”  (Proverbs 16:25).

At the beginning of 1977 I started as a teacher at a school in Northern Kwa-Zulu Natal. Because I now received a salary, I had the means of falling deeper and deeper into the trap of lies that Satan had set for me. Alcohol became more and more a part of my daily life and later, in my late 20’s, I could not “function” anymore without a certain amount of alcohol in my system. During this time I was blind to the warning of Jesus in His Word that states: “The thief (Satan) comes to steal, kill and destroy” (John 10:10). Because I was spiritually “dead,” Satan had already stolen my life with his lies and was now in the process of destroying me – and I did not even realize it!

Then during 1980, while I was recklessly moving headlong on this road of destruction to an eternal hell and heartache, God in His mercy brought a true Christian across my path: “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2Pet. 3:9). What I saw and heard in her life made me realize that my own “Christianity” was based on ideas that were contrary to the Word of God. The fact that I grew up in a Christian home, was “baptized” as a baby and even confirmed into the church, could do nothing for my sinful nature. The Holy Spirit, through the Word of God now started to convict me in my heart that I was a lost sinner, that I was under the judgment of God and that my only hope of salvation was to be found in a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, who died for my sins: “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.’ “

With this conviction in my heart, during the early evening of 16 January 1981, I took my dirty and sinful life to Jesus (Rom. 3:23), confessed to Him that I was a sinner (1John 1:9), acknowledged that He died for my sins on the cross (Isaiah 53:5), and by faith asked Him to come into my life as my Savior (John 1:12).

The moment after this prayer, as I got up from my knees, I felt spiritually “clean.” I also knew in my heart that God had not only forgiven me and had made me His child, but that I was now a “new” person: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2Cor. 5:17). I was immediately, at that moment, delivered from the curse of alcohol never to desire it any longer to this day: “Therefore if the Son (Jesus) makes you free, you shall be free indeed” (John 8:36). It wasn’t long after this that the Lord also delivered me instantly and permanently from cigarette addiction. The Lord also gave me this Christian girl, whom He brought across my path, as my wife and she has been a faithful companion and spiritual support in my life for more than 30 years now.

After my conversion, a deep longing sprang up in my heart to commit myself to full-time service for the Lord. During 1984, in response to an advertisement in a Christian magazine, I applied for a position in a mission organization. When my application failed I realized that I was trying through a one sided decision (my own) and under my own strength and effort to enter God’s service. After this experience I realized, even as a young Christian, that when it comes to full-time service for the Lord, we cannot make it our own decision – we have to wait for the Lord to open the door if it is His will for our lives. I therefore “said” to the Lord that I will trust Him and wait for His time. And if He wants to keep me in school teaching for the rest of my life I will gladly serve Him there. I now started theological studies by post through a Bible college.
As a school teacher I had many wonderful opportunities to witness to the pupils as well as the teachers about salvation in Jesus Christ, and the Lord granted me the privilege to lead numerous children and teachers to a living faith in Christ over the years as a teacher and later as a school principal.

Then during 1996 I started having problems with my voice while I was teaching a class. It got worse and later my voice would “disappear” while trying to teach. I was referred to a throat specialist and after a thorough examination, which included a brain-scan, I was told and shown from the scan that a virus had somehow entered the brain stem and had destroyed the nerve centre of one of my vocal chords with the result that I could talk only for a minute or so before my voice would “disappear.” The specialist further told me that there was nothing that could be done medically and that it means the end of my teaching career. This was a great disappointed in my life, not only because it meant the end of teaching, but also because it would mean that I would not be able to minister in a full-time capacity. But in the midst of this great disappointment, I experienced God’s peace with the realization that He never makes mistakes: “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).

Three months after having left teaching during 1997 I realized that it seemed as if my voice was getting stronger. I immediately made an appointment with a throat specialist. After three specialists in Pretoria examined me as well as looked at the scan charts and medical reports of my first examination, they informed me that they couldn’t understand it, but that their tests show that the damaged vocal cord was strengthening. “But Jesus said, ‘With men it is impossible, but not with God; for with God all things are possible’ “ (Mark 10:27).

At this time I had just completed my theological studies and it was not long after this that a group of Baptist believers asked if I would pastor their church. This time I realized that when God calls us into full-time service, He does it His way and that He does it in His own time: “And though the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction … your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it’ “ (Isaiah 30:20, 21). I have now been in full-time ministry for the Lord by His grace and mercy for 16 years. Life has not always been easy, even as a Christian, but I have not once experienced that He wasn’t near me and that He couldn’t meet my needs. I can with full confidence today say that His promise is true: “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” (Hebrews 13:5).

Dear reader, have you ever come to the place in your life where you realize you are a lost sinner on your way to hell? Jesus can and wants to save you if you flee to Him with an open and honest heart. Jesus said: “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out” (John 6:37). And if you are a born-again child of God, trust Him each day with your very life, regardless of your circumstances. He IS in control! With God all things are possible. Glory to His Name!

Leave a Reply