“I went into the water as an addict and came up instantly delivered from twenty-two years of addiction.”
Lizanne, South Africa
Finding out I was adopted was a heavy burden for a five-year-old and I had so many questions like, “Who am I?” and “Where do it fit in?” As a kid, I was a bit of a tomboy and I recall a family member saying: “People will say you look like this because you’re adopted.” It made me feel different. Not accepted.
When I was eighteen, my adoptive father passed away and I got angry with God. I questioned if there really was a God. I stopped going to church and started partying. At twenty, I got drunk for the first time, but it was more than just social drinking, I became an alcoholic. When a friend introduced me to rave parties, I started taking drugs: ecstasy, cocaine, and acid. At twenty-four, I met a guy, we got married and I fell pregnant. But I was a bad mother. I neglected my son. I’d wake early to attend to him, snort a few lines and drink for the rest of the day. Many times, I left my son with his grandma or others so I could get my fix. By now, I was addicted to crystal meth and cocaine.
The marriage eventually crumbled and then a year after our final separation, my ex-husband got custody of our son and moved to Cape Town. I had made such a mess of my life and I was out of control. To sustain my habits, I pawned my belongings, maxed out my credit cards and blew my inheritance. At the age of thirty-five, I checked into a Christian rehab centre, and it was in morning chapel services, I learned there is a God in heaven who loves me. But shortly after leaving, I relapsed. In 2012, I spoke to my son for the first time in three years. We began rebuilding our relationship over the phone and then I moved to Cape Town.
One morning, in July of 2013, my now eleven-year-old son asked me to take him to church. He had been going to Hillsong with his dad. Each week, I sat up the back with my arms folded. Sometimes I stayed in the car and read the newspaper. I was still very bitter and rebellious and often flew into terrible rages. It all stemmed from feelings of rejection. But as I sat under the word and worship each week, my heart softened. One Sunday, instead of being angry, I got up, lifted my hands, and worshipped. It was the start of a new life.
In 2014, my ex-husband’s mother, bought me a ticket to the Colour Conference in Cape Town and that’s where I had a God encounter. On the Sunday night, the delegates and the church converged at the GrandWest. At one point, the worship team led the song, Oceans. When they got to the part where they sang, I am Yours and You are mine, I stood there with my arms raised to heaven as tears streamed down my face. I gave Jesus everything: My rage, my brokenness, my rejection.
After that, I went to church every week – sometimes two or three services a day. I was so hungry for Jesus. In that same year, I was baptised at the Somerset West Campus. I went into the water as an addict and came up instantly delivered from twenty-two years of addiction.
I started serving in church with the Welcome Team, then New Christians and attended Evening College for three years. In 2019, we started a recovery group at Somerset-West. During this season, I got a vision of an African watering hole — like the ones I had seen growing up in the northern part of South Africa. In the vision, I saw lots of animals coming to the watering hole from a dry place. Our recovery group is a watering hole for anyone who struggles with addiction, but it’s the Living Water that sets them free.
I still had was one more mountain to conquer: My weight. When I began going to church, I weighed 150 kg. As soon as I told friends at Hillsong I was going to start walking, they rallied around me. Some joined me on a park run each week and whenever I was tempted to quit, they’d walk on either side and distract me. Now we walk in the nature reserve, in the mountains and at the beach. I am learning how to become healthy — both spiritually and physically. Already I have lost 40 kgs.
In the Hillsong community, I have learnt how to be vulnerable, I’ve acquired new skills, I’ve made so many friends who love me just the way I am, and now I freely share my testimony with anyone who struggles with addiction. I am in a good place. I have joy. I have peace. I have purpose and I am accepted in the beloved.
If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction, please click here