Alcoholism – The Spirit overcomes the spirits

In 1997, I, for the very first time, admitted to myself and others that I have a problem with alcohol addiction. I attended a clinic for alcoholics and was discharged 2 weeks later. It went well for approximately 6 months after which I relapsed. My father’s brother heard about a Christian counsellor, Aunty Kotie, who treats alcoholics and advised my father to make an appointment for me. Upon arrival in the morning, she told my dad to leave me with her and to only fetch me around 4 in the afternoon. After anointing me with oil she started questioning me about my background and my life in general. Hours later she began praying for me. At that stage of my life I did not believe in the power of the Holy Spirit; things like being slain in the Spirit was totally foreign to me. During her prayer this happened to me and for the first time I felt the reality of the power of the Holy Spirit.
On our way back, after this appointment, I did not tell my dad about this experience; I did not share it with anybody because I was unsure about what had happened and furthermore I did not believe in these kind of things because of my upbringing. It was only years later that I shared it with my wife.
After this counselling I was clean from alcohol for approximately 2 years. During this “clean” period I was chairman of the Show-committee. One afternoon I accompanied some employees to return a slide that was used during the annual Agricultural Show. After the day’s work I rewarded the guys with a beer each. I made the mistake of drinking 2 beers with them and this led to me slipping back to my old ways again.
I recall how Aunty Kotie, the counsellor, told me that if I were to slip back to drinking again it would mean that I have allowed the evil spirit to return. She explained that the Bible teaches that in that case, the evil spirit would return seven-fold. Today I can vouch for that because by now I was no longer going to pubs for a drink with friends but was buying bottles of alcohol and I would drink it neat, all by myself. This was really bad.
Upon insistence of my family I attended 9 clinics, all without success. It was so bad that when I walked out of the clinic I would go straight to the liquor store to buy booze. There were times when I smuggled the alcohol into the clinic or I would slip out of the gate, after greeting my wife goodbye after a visit, to go buy alcohol. I would drink it outside and then wait for the gate to open again for the next visitor and so I would return to the clinic. I told my family that there is no clinic that would heal me from this addiction because I did not want to be healed. Once I visited Aunty Kotie again, she prayed for me and I was clean for a while but then slipped back once again. Every time things would be worse than before. By now I would “down” 250ml of neat brandy, whiskey or vodka as a single shot. It got so bad that, after having had my fix, I would wash my mouth with petrol to hide the scent of the booze.
There was a time when I was under the influence for 24 hours a day. I would pass out in the evening and wake up early the next morning because of withdrawal symptoms. I would wait for my wife to go shower, slip out of bed to quickly down a glass and be back in bed by the time she was out of the shower. I would hide away the liquor in 500ml Poweraid bottles and would finish such a bottle in minutes.
One Christmas day we were about to visit my parents for the day. Before leaving that morning, I drank so much that I passed out. My wife and kids left me at home and joined my folks for Christmas lunch. My father contacted me and demanded that I be at his place at 06.00 the following Monday morning. He took me back to Aunty Kotie – she prayed! You know what, that brought the end of my addiction! Praise God!
Thinking back now I realise how God’s hand of protection was over me and my family during my time as an alcoholic. There were times when I drove the car being completely under the influence, sometimes with my whole family on board and never had we been in a serious accident – that is His protection. In hindsight I see how God carried my family through this ordeal. I recall how a phycologist told me that I had one last opportunity to restore the relationship with my son because by then he was a teenager. This got me thinking and I worked hard at it. By the grace of God this relationship had been restored and my son could finally again look up at his dad and believe in his dad. I still wonder whether it was part of God’s plan for me to walk this path but I know that my family and I have learnt some hard lessons from my alcoholism. I also know that it was not the clinics that healed me but it was God. I recall the doctors confirming that my liver had serious damage because of the booze, but God healed that too.
Desire added: As his wife I often wanted to take the children and leave because I felt that we deserved better. All the pain and embarrassment that we had to endure. I threatened him with divorce, we moved out of the house but every time he would beg us to return with promises of stopping, but to no avail. I often asked God why it had to take so long. But you know, after 10 years of suffering, God granted me complete forgiveness and I thank Him for carrying our family all along. If it took this drastic intervention to lead us to the most wonderful relationship that we as a family now have, it was all worth it. It is only God who can make such things happen, as we read in Romans 8:28. Apart from giving God all the honour and glory, I can honestly say that I absolutely love my husband and I am so proud of him for overcoming this addiction and for becoming the husband and father that he is today.
Nico Continued: I have been clean for almost 13 years now and I can honestly say that I have not had any desire to have alcohol at all. But God is still busy with me; He uses me to help others with similar problems. For example, He led me to cross paths with an old school friend who was an alcoholic. His name is Hennie. I convinced him to attend a clinic and offered him to live and work on my farm afterwards. I still remember that on the day I fetched him from the clinic we got news that my brother-in-law committed suicide. We had to attend to this sad situation first but still managed to fetch Hennie from the clinic. Upon arriving back in town, Hennie had to fetch some things from friends. They invited him to have a drink with them but fortunately he refused. He passed Test 1.
Hennie shared with me how his children have rejected him and how much he wanted those relationships to be restored. I told him that it would only happen if he stopped drinking. He also told me how bad things became for him during his time of alcoholism – I could absolutely associate with that and could therefore advise him accordingly – been there, done that. Hennie lived and worked on the farm for approximately 18 months during which I could help him to recover fully. The relationship with his daughters had also been restored.
There are various other men that I have since helped to overcome their addictions, some with success, others not. I have learnt that it starts with the individual – once the individual admits his addiction, expresses the desire to stop and hands himself over to the Lord, victory is there for the taking.
Today I can state that it was only by God’s grace that we can sit here today to share this testimony. He continues to bless and keep us, even during the most challenging times. As a family we shall forever be grateful to our Heavenly Father.
Nico Grobler
Bultfontein, Free State

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