I was raised in a family who did not know God. I was constantly broken down by negative words which led me to have little or no self-esteem. On my 14th birthday a friend encouraged me to try cocaine. Little did I know then, that this would be the start of a 12 year drug addiction – and I would eventually start using it everyday of my life to help me get by. I tried to stop so many times but I just couldn’t push through and always gave up, becoming more and more dependent on drugs with every failed attempt.
In January 2015 I was hopeless and tried to end it all by overdosing on drugs. I was shocked to find that I had survived, but now feeling even more alone, even more ashamed and more angry than ever. For some reason I ended up calling my cousin who lives in Sydney and explained to her what I had done. She shared the good news with me. She shared that Jesus is alive and could save me and free me. I said the salvation prayer over the phone, “that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9).
Straight after we had hung up the phone, my cousin called Hillsong Church South Africa, who then within that very same day contacted me. Christiaan was the amazing Powerhouse Pastor who called me. We arranged to meet that night and I remember sitting at the coffee shop telling him everything I had been through. I was shocked by the kindness and love shown towards me. He had so much compassion towards my story and cared about every little detail.
I remember his eyes welled up with tears as he told me that God loves me and that He has a huge plan for my life and that my story matters to God. I was so overwhelmed. All my life I had negative words spoken over me, and what he told me that night really changed the course of my life forever as he encouraged me with the truth of who God says I am.
Chosen. Victorious. Free. Leader. Conqueror. Loved. Restored. Accepted.
This was a turning point. I decided to surrender relying on the empty ‘high’ drugs gave me and instead rely on Jesus and seeking Him to fulfill every part of me. I started attending Hillsong Church Pretoria, and from the moment I walked in… I knew I was HOME. I had found the love and acceptance that my heart had so longed for, and within a week I decided to commit to volunteering for church. Shortly after Encounter 2015, I felt God direct me to trust Him and move to Cape Town. So I did and found work immediately. (Isn’t it funny how He works.) God told me to save up all my money, which I did and 3 months later at the Heart for the House miracle offering I felt God urging me to trust Him again and sow all of my savings into the miracle offering, which I did. The very next week my cousin from Sydney called me and said that she felt prompted by the Holy Spirit to pay for me to do the internship at Hillsong church South Africa in Cape Town– an entire year would be paid. I couldn’t believe it. The faithfulness of God and His plans and purposes far exceed my expectations.
Looking back at my life, knowing where I came from to where God has brought me, I cannot believe the person I have become. After 8 months of being part of the internship, I have changed and grown so much! I am so thankful for the love of Jesus and for my church family. If it wasn’t for the love and compassion that compelled someone to care for me and walk a journey with me, I would not be where I am today.
Words cannot describe how grateful I am for a Church that has a heart for people and a heart for this nation. My Heart for The House is to continue building His House and continue loving people, no matter what it takes.
Richard Dalton // Hillsong Church Cape Town