Testimony of Wayne Strauss from CYPSA
I greet you in the wonderful name of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is an honour and privilege to stand here. My heart overflows with joy and gratitude when I look back on the past five and a half years of my life. When I arrived on the mission on 24 December 2013, I was close to death. I will share shortly where I come from and what the Lord has done for me.
My name is Wayne Strauss. I come from Kimberley where I was born into a Christian home. My mother is a born-again Christian but my father was an alcoholic. I was taught Christian values from a very young age. I understood what was right and wrong. At the age of six I gave my life to the Lord because I wanted to do it and I wanted to please my mother. The devil was not happy with the decision I had made and soon after that I was introduced to pornography. I hid this sin from my mother and my dominee (pastor). I started following the ways of the devil. I lied. I stole even when I did not need anything. My mom never noticed because I was sly. The devil taught me that. As a teenager I started smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol. It soon escalated to the use of marijuana. I was a good boy at school so I could hide my sin from my family. I was in church every Sunday. I was even a Sunday school teacher. I attended Youth every weekend while I lived a secret life of sin. At this early age I began living an immoral sexual life.
By the grace of God I matriculated but my drug use escalated and I moved onto harder drugs. Miraculously I was able to complete my studies and I qualified in 1993 as a teacher. By 1998 I was a full-blown drug addict because earning my own money allowed me to support my drug habit. In this year I realised that I needed help and I booked myself into a rehab centre. There I was allowed to smoke cigarettes and I was prescribed other drugs. I was diagnosed as manic depressive and put onto numerous anti-depressants, mood stabilisers and other medication. I spent two months in the rehab but the day I was released I returned to smoking crack cocaine. Two months later I attempted suicide for the first time. I slit my wrists and ended up in the psychiatric ward of a hospital where I spent about two weeks after which I returned to my lifestyle. Many years of heartache and pain, drug abuse and sexual immorality followed.
I became estranged from my family because I blamed them for everything I was doing, however, I had a praying mother who prayed for me daily. In 2002 I reunited with my family, my granny was 98 and I moved back to Kimberley. I stopped using hard drugs but I still smoked cigarettes and marijuana and drank alcohol. I did not allow God into my life.
In 2004 I went back to my drug lifestyle. Everything I had been doing before worsened. In 2008, after another short stint in a rehab centre, I attempted suicide again. I drank all my prescription pills with alcohol. I woke up in hospital where I was tied to a bed. I had machines attached to me and my heart had stopped while they pumped out my stomach. My mom tried to convince me that this was the turning point in my life. I needed to change because God has a plan for me. I agreed with her to a point but I was caught up and I could not rid myself of this lifestyle. After a short while I returned to my old ways. I cried and I prayed many nights, asking the Lord to help me but it seemed as if nothing went right for me. I started teaching again but once I had money, things went from bad to worse. My mother never stopped praying. Every opportunity that she got, she spoke to me about the Lord and that I needed to change my life. But I knew all the answers and I knew that I would change sometime.
In 2013 things spiralled out of control. The previous year my mom sold the house we lived in because she no longer felt safe with me in the house anymore. For the first time I was asked to leave a job because of my drug abuse. Then I felt that I was the biggest failure. I blamed my family for everything I was going through and decided to have a third attempt at my life. I thought I would be ‘third time lucky’. I got myself enough sleeping pills and my plan was to take the pills on 24 December 2013 so that for the rest of my family’s life they would remember me and that I took my life at Christmas time. But the Lord intervened in a miraculous way. A few days before Christmas my mom showed me a letter in a ‘Joy’ magazine of a young man who had been to KwaSizabantu Mission for help. My eyes opened and on 24 December I arrived at KwaSizabantu Mission – this prodigal son returned home.
The night I arrived I made my life right with the Lord. The following day we started services with CYPSA at 10 am and 3 pm. I heard about confession of sin. I questioned why I should confess my sins to a person when I could go to the Lord myself? For a few days I battled with this issue. On the fourth day I went to one of the ladies and asked her to tell me where it says in the Bible that we should confess our sins to a person. Her response was James 5:16. From then on I poured out my sins. I felt I would not have enough time to confess all the sins I had done over all the years. So every time I went my sins poured out. The Lord reminded me of things I had forgotten which I could lay at His feet. The weight on my shoulders was no longer there. Then the Lord allowed me to help in the CYPSA office. Today I am truly blessed to be part of the teaching staff at Domino Servite School.
Many psychiatrists and doctors could not help me because they did not have the Lord. But at KwaSizabantu Mission and the Concerned Young People of South Africa I received the help I needed. There are hundreds of young men being helped here every day.
I am truly honoured that I can say thank you to Reverend Stegen who is here this morning for his obedience to the Lord in starting this place. I thank Miss Dube for her obedience in initiating CYPSA. I give all the glory and honour to the Lord for what He has done in my life. To those who have had an impact in my life with the changes that have been wrought in me by the Lord, I say ‘thank you’ to you. Thank you that I could share this with you this morning.
Service: Albu van Eeden
Friends, before we start with God’s word, allow me to address Reverend Stegen as Uncle Erlo, a term which indicates fondness and great respect. Uncle Erlo, we are so blessed that you have joined us for the service today. We are encouraged and built up by it. This is the man whose obedience God rewarded by sending revival in 1966. Not that he laboured for it or deserved it but God honours obedience. It is wonderful that he is here with us today. If at any stage, Reverend Stegen, you would like to stop me and say something, we would be happy.
And Jesus having returned to Capernaum, after some days it was rumoured about that He was in the house [probably Peter’s]. 2 And so many people gathered together there that there was no longer room [for them], not even around the door; and He was discussing the Word. 3 Then they came, bringing a paralytic to Him, who had been picked up and was being carried by four men. 4 And when they could not get him to a place in front of Jesus because of the throng, they dug through the roof above Him; and when they had scooped out an opening, they let down the [thickly padded] quilt or mat upon which the paralyzed man lay. 5 And when Jesus saw their faith [their confidence in God through Him], He said to the paralyzed man, Son, your sins are forgiven [you] and put away [that is, the penalty is remitted, the sense of guilt removed, and you are made upright and in right standing with God]. Mark 2:1–6 (AMPC)
These men took radical steps to get a lame man to Jesus. They were so aware of the importance of this man’s soul that they went against the rules of society. We should be desperate to reach Christ in order to receive forgiveness of our sins. Are we so desperate? How radical are the steps that you have taken for your soul to be saved? Nothing in this world can compare to the value of your soul. There is no money that is worth the value of your soul. We must be radical in order to have our souls saved, to be washed from our sins and receive forgiveness. All the money in this world is not worth the value of your soul that you carry around in your bosom. Nothing in this world should be too precious for you to let go of in order for your soul to be saved. Get rid of that thing that stands between your soul and heaven. Get rid of that cell phone. It will cause you eternal loss. That cell phone with which you keep relationships alive and talk to people who do not bring you closer to God but who draw you to the world. Stop that communication. Block those numbers. If necessary, break it with a hammer and destroy it. Your soul is more important than that. No employment position is as important as your soul. Leave that job if it is necessary to save your soul. If you cannot handle the money that you earn, if money makes you stumble and sin, resign from your job. It is nothing in comparison to the value of your soul. Break that relationship that is dragging you down. Bring your sins to Christ that He can wash and cleanse you. Break from the world.
Whenever God works in revival this is what happens. Are you still concerned about the respect of people? Are you still concerned that they say nice things about you? Forget about that. Let them despise you. Let them gossip about you. Let them look down on you but make sure that you get right with God.
When revival broke out under Paul’s ministry some tried to imitate Paul. At this mission we have had men who have come and gone, who have tried to imitate the man of God here. But a counterfeit copy does not work in God’s kingdom. Some men attempted to drive out demons in the name of Jesus. The demons said, “Paul we know. Jesus we know but who are you?” Through the years the demons have said and they still say that they know Reverend Stegen. The demon possessed man violently attacked the sons of Sceva and they fled. 17 This became known to all who lived in Ephesus, both Jews and Greeks, and alarm and terror fell upon them all; and the name of the Lord Jesus was extolled and magnified. Acts 19:17 (AMCP)
This is revival. Preachers nowadays no longer fear God. God is love. He wants to help you enjoy life. But after this incident the fear of God fell upon them and 18 Many also of those who were now believers came making [a]full confession and thoroughly exposing their [former deceptive and evil] practices. 19 And many of those who had practiced curious, magical arts collected their books and [throwing them, [b]book after book, on the pile] burned them in the sight of everybody. When they counted the value of them, they found it amounted to 50,000 pieces of silver ([c]about $9,300). 20 Thus the Word of the Lord [concerning the [d]attainment through Christ of eternal salvation in the kingdom of God] grew and spread and intensified, prevailing mightily. Acts 19:18–20 (AMCP)
This is what we experience when God comes down. It is precious to us. We have to stand together with our leader and support him so that God may continue to work graciously in our midst. Our souls are the most important. 12 And from the days of John the Baptist until the present time, the kingdom of heaven has endured violent assault, and violent men seize it by force [as a precious prize—a [a]share in the heavenly kingdom is sought with most ardent zeal and intense exertion]. Matthew 11:12
These four men climbed onto the roof. They broke open the roof and lowered the paralysed men in front of the Lord Jesus. I wonder whether they took these men to court and accused them of being violent, out of line and going too far. What about the people who had been waiting in line to see the Lord Jesus and now they do this? Violent men who take the Kingdom of God by force. He that will take possession of the kingdom of righteousness, peace and spiritual joy, must be in earnest; all hell will oppose him in every step he takes; and if a man be not absolutely determined to give up his sins and evil companions, and have his soul saved at all hazards and at every expense, he will surely perish everlastingly. Adam Clarke
The four men who carried this paralysed man realised how important, how critical it was for him to meet with Jesus Christ. They carried him in their desperation to reach Christ. Do you realise how important it is for souls to be saved? You will become violent in order to get souls into heaven. Those who are in the Lord’s work, are you so determined to help souls reach heaven? I would like to share a testimony which I have seldom shared, and never from the pulpit. In 1983, I was working at Benedictine hospital in Nongoma where there was a very sick man. He had seen specialists who had prescribed all the medication they could to help him but he was ill to death. He was told to return home so that his bed could be freed up for other patients. We did not know how long he still had to live. I wanted to take this man to KwaSizabantu Mission before he died. So I spoke to him. I discharged him on a Friday afternoon, put him on the back seat of my car and drove to the mission. At that time Hluhluwe and Umfolozi game parks were separated by a road which we used. Suddenly out of the blue, a rhino walked into the road. I drove passed and then stopped to look in the rear view mirror because it was very close. But the sick man on the back seat suddenly sat upright and said, “Hamba, Baba, hamba, hamba!” He attended one service on Friday evening and immediately after said that he wanted to speak to someone. As we read in Acts. He poured his heart out and the counsellor prayed with him. After the following morning service he asked the counsellor to bring scissors to cut off the skins and fetishes from his wrists. He poured out his heart again. When he had finished, he stood up and fell over backwards, dead. My heart nearly stopped. I chided myself for being too eager in this situation. What would the family say? They would say that I took him out of the hospital and killed him. They will say that KwaSizabantu is a bad place because our father and grandfather was killed here. I was a young doctor. I had no money. I had just started working. My hands were tied. I was helpless. I went to Reverend Stegen where I thought he would rap me over the knuckles but he was so delighted. He said that God had snatched this man’s soul from the enemy and saved him just before death. He said that I should not worry and that they would do everything so that souls can be saved. They would return the body to the man’s family. I said that I did not have money for petrol to do that. His response was that money was nothing and it would be done. He said that he would send some co-workers to speak to the family. Reverend Stegen offered to cover all the funeral expenses. I was amazed that after all the years of preaching, he still had the fire of God burning in his heart! I had thought it disappeared as you become an older Christian. His reaction was one in which the first love was still burning. The family asked KwaSizabantu to conduct the funeral, as a result his daughter was converted and lived for the Lord for many years here.
Reverend Stegen, do not stop doing that. You serve God fearlessly. All these years you have been willing to carry a man onto a roof and break the roof down in order for a soul to reach Christ. Do not grow tired of this. We are with you. People can say what they want, they can complain about you breaking down the roof. People in the crowd surely said, “These men are ridiculous!” Reverend Stegen, let them say you are ridiculous. This is the Spirit of Christ which is willing to pay the price for a soul to be saved.
Did the four men do this in order to get honour for themselves? No, they were out of the picture. They were on the roof. The man was before the Lord Jesus. It was not for their honour that they did it, it was for the glory of God and for the saving of a soul. Friends, let us strengthen our weak knees. We are not here to care for ourselves and make life comfortable. We are sold out for God and His kingdom. To do whatever He expects of us.
6 Now some of the scribes were sitting there, holding a dialogue with themselves as they questioned in their hearts, 7 Why does this [d]Man talk like this? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins [[e]remove guilt, remit the penalty, and bestow righteousness instead] except God alone? 8 And at once Jesus, becoming fully aware in His spirit that they thus debated within themselves, said to them, Why do you argue (debate, reason) about all this in your hearts?
10 But that you may know positively and beyond a doubt that the Son of Man has right and authority and power on earth to forgive sins—He said to the paralyzed man,
11 I say to you, arise, pick up and carry your sleeping pad or mat, and be going on home.
12 And he arose at once and picked up the sleeping pad or mat and went out before them all, so that they were all amazed and [h] recognized and praised and thanked God, saying, We have never seen anything like this before! Mark 2:6-12 (AMPC)
(What these four men did is the duty of a counsellor. Do not make people dependent on you but bring them to Christ. Help them to come to Christ.)
This paralysed man came for healing but the Lord Jesus spoke about sin. He said, “Your sins are forgiven.” You say, “Lord, you do not understand what my problem is, I am not concerned about my sins, I just want to be healed.” This how some people come here – for healing but then they hear about sin. The Lord Jesus spoke the words that no other man on earth had the power to speak. He said, “Son your sins are forgiven.” And then He said, “so that you can see I have the power to forgive sins”, “Stand up, take up your mat and walk.” Some churches only speak about miracles and healing but that is the wrong way around. With Christ the most important is forgiveness of sins before anything else and if God wants to heal you that is secondary but not most important. It appeared as if Christ was not aware of his problem. Friends, we may not realise to what extent our sin – the lies, the lust, the fornication, the adultery, the evil tongue, the gossip – is the problem.
When some come to the Lord Jesus they are so busy with the crowd standing about the Lord Jesus. They try to impress the crowd or they become upset with the crowd. Do not allow the devil to drag you there. Keep your eyes on Christ. You are here to meet with Christ. People cannot see when your sins are forgiven but they can see when you pick up your bed and walk – your life changes – the old anger is no longer there, if the weakness was with women it is no longer there. The Lord said, “Take up your bed and walk.” He could have said, “Lord, you do not understand. I cannot walk. Do you know how many times I have tried to walk? It is impossible for me to walk. I cannot do it.” The Lord often does this when He meets with you. He tells you to make restitution but your life is already at rock bottom, nobody thinks anything of you, everybody despises you, your family is separated from you and God tells you to make restitution. It seems as if the Lord leads you into greater difficulties. When the disciples caught no fish, He stood on the beach and told them to go into the deep. Go deeper. Go deeper with Me. Be obedient to what I am telling you even though it does not make sense. That is when they caught fish. You may feel you will end in prison if you do what Christ tells you but He who has the power to forgive sins, commands you.
I do not mind that if in the process we have broken holes in the roofs of some people. But as long as the Lord Jesus is with us, as long as we see people pick up their beds and walk, as we heard in the testimony today, it is sufficient. Let the world go crazy, let them gossip, let them tell stories, let them try their best to harm us. We are made happy when we bring souls to Christ so that they can hear these words: your sins are forgiven. Reverend Stegen, we want to stand with you in this, cost what it may.