I have to edit myself heavily here so as to present a letter, and not a book. I choose to share a portion of my life with you that will illustrate just how instrumental this ‘cult’ has been in making me live a – for lack of a better word – big life.
Thanks to growing up on the mission, I was able to speak 4 languages by the time I was in Grade 1. When I matriculated in 1999, I got involved in a project the mission had begun to help the youth of South Africa combat the AIDS crisis, called True Love Waits, originally started in the USA. At 18, I began travelling across the country, visiting schools, hostels, universities, hospitals and churches – anywhere we could get an audience – and, believe me, the doors were open. Over time I got better at public speaking, and soon became involved in writing press statements that got published numerous times a year and being interviewed on radio and television and in print media. I loved being able to travel so widely and got exposed to so many different cultures and people and ways of thinking. I even was invited to join TLW groups touring Europe a lot of times over the years. In all this time I – gasp! – teamed up with men!! I toured with them, travelled with them, was housed with them, lectured with them, and yes – conversed with them like a normal human being.
All my life, and especially during my TLW years, Rev Erlo Stegen played a huge role in supporting me personally. He was my champion and emotional guide through some very difficult times. I had the privilege of having an open door to him, and he was the kindest of listening ears and wisest of advice givers. Aside from that, he and KwaSizabantu financially supported a vast amount of the travels I and the TLW teams undertook over the years we were active. He always gave us a platform, both financially and literally. In the latter part of my pubic speaking years, I had the special privilege of traveling with Rev Stegen throughout South Africa and through parts of Europe. I will never forget it.
During this time, I worked at the community radio station on the mission. I started in 1998. In that time, I learned to present, produce and direct programs. I got to work with a publishing house, offering reviewed books to our rural community weekly. I have taught at the high school on the mission and gone on to lecture at the teacher’s training college. I got my degree and have been able to have years of working experience at the same time.
I have told you only a portion of my life, a tiny part of it. I have lived a truly ‘big’ life, a remarkable life that many can only dream of, and it is thanks to KwaSizabantu and Rev Erlo Stegen – the mission and the man that news24 has so willingly vilified and smeared as cultish and evil. To tell you what Rev Stegen has gone on to do for me since then – well, words fail…
Now, tell me – what a tortured existence!! What a terrible life! How constrained! How sheltered! How cut off! Poor thing! She should be rescued! Help! (do read the sarcasm)