Psalm 116: 5-9
The Lord is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion. The Lord protects the unwary; when I was brought low, he saved me. Return to your rest, my soul, for the Lord has been good to you. For you, Lord, have delivered me from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before the Lord in the land of the living.
I think that it is the most beautiful thing – knowing that there is a higher power who is this grand-master puppeteer. And, even though he has billions of stings to pull in so many directions, every second of every day, somehow, he makes the time and effort to tug on your string in the most perfect way. That right there, is God unfailing. And the ability to trust that even though he controls all these strings, there is still space in the palm of his hands for you – well, that… that right there is faith.
I think I can safely say that I am a very career-orientated individual, and I pride myself on where I am today. I can also say that I am a strong Christian woman, who prides herself on purpose. However, I can’t exactly say that I chose it all from the start. I went from wanting to pursue medicine, to forensic science (I blame CSI), to medical science, then getting my degree dropped to biological sciences for under-performing, to ending up in the water and sanitation sector. I mean I play with human faeces and intestinal worms for a living! It is an ugly, dirty field, and honestly, I would not have it any other way! I am currently completing my first year of PhD studies in chemical engineering, moving from a Master’s in biological sciences. I have been able to travel to 4 countries thus far for conferences and training of laboratories and have published 3 scientific papers. I have encountered the best mentor and have learnt so much whilst accidentally finding this field – it really doesn’t feel like much of an accident any more. So how did it begin?
I have also not always known Christ. I was born and raised as a Hindu, though not a very religious one. It is tradition to follow in your father’s footsteps, and so my dad did not have that guidance being estranged from his father since he was around 4 years of age. There was therefore no real footpath for my mum, my siblings and I to follow. My parents basically winged it! But somehow, something never quite sat right. I know personally, I observed for the sake of observing, and prayed because it was the right, dutiful thing to do. We did not fast, we ate what we wanted to and we observed the bare minimum. I partook in the rituals because everyone else did, but never did quite understand what exactly I was doing, what it all meant, and why I was doing it.
Don’t get me wrong – I am in no way trying to say that I just knew that following Christ was my destined path. It was in fact just the opposite of that, as I was that despicable human being that ridiculed Christianity. I am not ashamed to say that I mocked the praises to God that I just could not fathom, and laughed at how entranced I believed people became at the mention of Jesus. In fact, my entire family did! I can now see how blatant ignorance swayed my point of view. It is easy to point fingers when you don’t truly understand.
So how did the Naidoo’s embark on this enthralling quest? Well, life happened. This story could fill up the pages of an entire book, but I will try and sum it up. And I speak of “us” throughout, as this story does not belong to one of us alone, but to each of us individually and as a whole, as we each felt the pressure and shed the tears. Each one of us have had to deal, and we were forced to mature beyond our years. We are a family of 5 – dad, mum, myself, my little brother Damian and the smallest being Denali, my sister. My parents have been entrepreneurs for the longest time. From running an insurance brokerage, to a take-away and bar, to a salon, to a logistics company – they have done it all. The breaking point that almost crippled my family, was the fall of their logistics company. Honestly, we have always been a financially stable, and well-off family. My parents have worked so hard to make sure that we are well provided for all the time. We had our ups and downs throughout life, but we still had all that we needed and more. And then it all came to a startling halt in 2013. Money came in and fell through the cracks like water – it just never lasted. Nothing seemed to work, and a very thick darkness settled over our home. There was always anger and despair, with each member constantly fighting with one another. We then started selling possessions for the quick buck, to make ends meet. Everything that could go wrong, did go wrong, and that is no exaggeration. We grew so frustrated that we basically quit faith and pushed God out of our lives, literally. I remember feeling like prayer was a waste of time, and that every time I tried to talk to God, there was a black wall in front of me, and so it went nowhere. We tossed every godly possession out of our home. I saw the visage of a broken, weary woman in my mum, with nothing more to give, and no space left for further disappointment. We felt abandoned by God, and went further so as to question if God really existed? What kind of a sick joke was this?
Before we knew it, banks were after the roof over our heads, and the cars we drove. We almost lost our home on a few occasions, and that is the scariest thing one could possibly encounter. We saw my mum’s car get repossessed. Seeing your parents’ spirits break so irreparably is shattering. We reached a point where we did not know where the next meal would come from. We borrowed from whomever we could – yet they still made sure we remained in school and university. The financial situation worsened, and so the darkness at home thickened. We all felt so lost and lived each day for the day – we just got by. After months and months of nothingness, I came home one day in July 2014, to my parents saying, “sit down, we need to talk.” And I was told that they have reached a point of complete hopelessness, and they have decided to visit the local church up the road. They said they needed a change and some light, and this was the only thing that came to heart. We were told that we would not be forced into following them, but we all then decided to take these steps together.
We attended church for the first time in 2014, and I cannot say it has been an easy journey since then. Our faith has still been tested thoroughly, with days o raking coin together to buy food still rearing its head. Days where we would be stressed about our electricity being cut. But for the first time in years, praying did not feel like a forced practice; a sham. That day when I stepped into the church, I felt very out of place, but also, so peaceful as this presence washed over me, and by the end of the service, I realised that this is where I am meant to be. We had a lot to learn, and I did feel disadvantaged at times, not growing with Christ from a child. However, it has only been a path of growth and development, where we now understood our bond with God. We still had obstacles to overcome. My dad had many health scares – one being a heart attack resulting in him flatlining. But He came through strong and fighting. Our financial state is still sometimes very shaky. There are extreme highs and there are extreme lows, but through it all, we have learnt to trust in a higher power. Finally, there was some light in this home again. We moved churches, and in 2017, we found a home at Rivers Church (Durban North). It took some time, but I eventually partnered with the church two weeks ago and have decided that it is time to get more involved by serving. This journey has only begun.
My “God’s Not Dead” Moment:
I think it is important to speak of a very special moment that we experienced as a family after we started our walk with the Lord. I personally believe this was a miracle from God, despite how small and insignificant it might seem to others. We were at a point where there was literally no money left in the household. We were pooling every cent and rand to come up with a meal for dinner that night and realised we had used up every last bit. We were at one of our lowest points. Feeling completely dismayed, my parents sat with their heads in their hands, wondering what to do or who to ask for help. And just like that, on our staircase in the middle of the day, R70 was found. It was just lying there. We asked every person in the house who said it did not belong to them. With how dire the situation was, we would know if we even had a R10 to spare. Nobody else had access to our home. The money just appeared out of thin air, and that night we were able to buy bread, tomatoes and tinned fish, and had a hot meal before bed. Apparently making bread and fish go a long way is a favourite of the Lord’s. This was a defining moment for my entire family. God always comes through!
5 Things I Have Learnt On My Journey…
1) Family over everything! People will come and go in your darkest hours, but family will stick it out, and you will come out on top.
2) The journey with Jesus Christ is never a straight road – It is not quick fix and does not mean your problems disappear. However, it does mean that you learn how to deal with the fact that you are not in control – the outcomes have already been written for you.
3) Struggle makes you stronger – Difficulties build you as a person and also solidifies your faith. If you can trust God in the darkest hour, then walking with him is never a problem.
4) Struggle makes you smarter – Learning to live with minimal teaches you that counting your cents on a daily is a very good principle to live by.
5) God will never fail you! He is able, and he will always be by your side, even when all hope seems lost. We have had so many instances where we felt completely desolate, yet God made a way even at the very last hour.
Every time I have done something in an act of faith, God does something right back! I do not and never will regret my decision to follow Jesus Christ. I feel a sense of purpose that God has put in me as a scientist, to somehow better His world. I have met beautiful people along my journey, and I know there is so much more to come! Thank you to each and every person who gave this post their time of day. And thank you to Crys for allowing me to share what I hold so closely to my heart!