My name is Shaun Milford, I am 35 years old and I am from Nababeeb, a mining town in Namakwaland, South Africa. I’d like to share with you how God saved my life.
I grew up in this town. My grandparents brought me up and they tried their level best to instil the fear of God in me. Although I regularly went to church with them, I never had a relationship with Jesus, neither did I ever encountered Christ on a personal level.
As a teenager I became rebellious and this led to me experimenting with different substances. I know many will disagree with me but I know that alcohol is a very dangerous substance. I refer to alcohol as a drug, a very dangerous drug because this is where my addiction started – with alcohol. This eventually led to me experimenting with stronger drugs like cannabis (dagga) and mandrax.
I was a very good student at school but due to the drugs my school work deteriorated and with that my dream of one day becoming a pilot disappeared. The drugs, together with bad friends, really stole the future I had envisaged for myself. Because of this I became so depressed and I therefore adopted a real “never mind” attitude. I couldn’t care less for anything or anyone.
Neither my parents nor my grandparents could understand how this child of theirs, who they have raised with Biblical principles, could turn out so bad. This led to them cursing me and speaking really negative things over me, for example they would refer to me as “drug rubbish”. This really hurt. I didn’t know how to handle it and, being where I was with my life at that point in time, the cursing just took me from bad to worse. Eventually I found myself on a path of self-destruction.
During this time I lost a close friend to death. This incident really got me thinking and I was confused. I could not process it. I struggled with the concepts of life and death. Typically, being an addict, I turned to the strongest drug that I could lay my hands on – we call it “tik”- thinking that this would remove my fear of death. Because of the “tik” I could not sleep at night and I continued to wrestle with this thing of life and death. I wanted to understand what had happened to my friend after his death – in my mind he must have ended up in hell because he led the same life I did. I have heard people saying that people who live this type of life will surely end in hell. This worried me seriously and again I fell in a state of depression. This time I realised that hell is not where I want to end up and neither was this the type of life that I wanted any longer.
One day, after someone had yet again cursed me for who I was, I was on my way home when I met an uncle of mine. His name is Joey. At that point I was so depressed that I really considered suicide. By then it must have been 10 years of me being a drug addict but I always thought that I had full control over my addiction and that I could stop at any time if I wanted to. The fact of the matter is that I have tried many a time to stop but I could not succeed. Uncle Joey could see that I was at my whit’s end when he said to me: “Why don’t you try Jesus. If you really want to change your life, that is the way to go”. My immediate response was that he should not talk about Jesus because I have tried to speak to Jesus when I was a child and He never responded, why would He suddenly care now?
My suicidal thoughts became more intense as time went by. I could hear the devil speaking to me saying: “why don’t you hang yourself, then all these bad things and all these struggles would be gone. Your own people don’t even care about you anymore”. One Saturday I decided to make an end to it all. I started walking, not knowing where I was going, but at some point in time I walked past uncle Joey’s house and at that very moment I asked myself: “Shaun have you really tried Jesus before?” I realised then that I have not yet asked Jesus to set me free from the bondage of the drugs on my life. I have not yet given Jesus an opportunity to save me. Uncle Joey’s words of: “Why don’t you try Jesus” re-played in my mind. I walked into Uncle Joey’s house and I told him that I urgently needed Jesus in my life. Suddenly something wonderful happened. I felt the Lord putting His arms around me and telling me: “I am right here, right now. You have made the right choice”. The tears started flowing freely from my eyes. This was on 01 October 2009. I went on my knees and I told Him that if He helped me, I shall follow Him all the days of my life. One of the amazing things about Christ is that He sometimes answers immediately. He knew those thoughts of suicide that I had and therefore He answered immediately by telling me that He had forgiven me. I knew I hurt many people due to my addiction, I even stole from them to fund my addiction. Right there in Uncle Joey’s house God told me that He loves me and that He had forgiven me. I could feel His love and I realised then that Jesus is alive, He is real. Here I was, feeling His embrace for the first time.
I was so grateful that this all happened in the presence of Uncle Joey because he was the witness – he saw me giving my life to the Lord and he was the one who initially suggested Jesus as the answer to my problems.
At the time I was unemployed, I had a child born out of wedlock, whom I loved dearly but I was refused access to because of who I was. All of this changed. Initially people could not believe the change that they saw in me – how could this be? How could someone who swore at his mother yesterday come beg for forgiveness today? But the Lord placed His love in me that day and this helped me to reconcile with others. I realised that there were more important things than only caring for myself. I had to make right with others. I was blessed to marry the mother of my child and she also gave her heart to the Lord. We are now a family unit.
I recently had a setback. Satan used people in the community to spread bad news about me because those people still couldn’t believe the change that took place in my life. In the Biblical story of Job he said that what he feared would happen to him indeed did transpire. This came true in my life. I listened to those stories of others and eventually fell very ill and ended up losing my job. These things brought fear and doubt back into my life again. I was worried about supplying in the needs of my family. I was ashamed and started withdrawing from those same people, our Pastor and the church family, who have been carrying me and caring for me; those who built me up since I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I avoided contact with them.
Soon I found myself smoking cannabis again. Although I initially thought that I was doing this in secret I soon realised that God was watching me. I knew I was again disappointing Him. I think many people make that mistake, they think that they can hide things but one cannot hide anything from God. This bothered me. This time I knew that I was in the wrong and that I was letting Jesus down. If Jesus was prepared to hang on a cross for my sin, to be humiliated for me, who am I to let Him down after what He had already done for me?! I gathered enough courage to speak to Pastor Peter and he advised me to come clean with the congregation because the rumours were already rife. I asked God to forgive me and again He did. Once again I could feel His love for me. He helped me to stand in front of our congregation on Sunday 20 September 2015 and to admit that I have again fallen short but that God once again came to my rescue. It was not an easy task to do but Christ strengthened me.
This time round God told me not to worry about providing but to trust Him for that. I know that He even knows all my thoughts and my concerns. The Bible verse that I base my life on is Matthew 6: 33: “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well”.
I have fallen by the way side but God picked me up again and gave me yet another chance. I want to tell those people who think that there is no hope once you have lost the plot, that God is a god of second, third, fourth and many more chances as long as you are sincere in your approach to Him.
I can testify that our Lord is one who will come to the rescue of those who call upon Him, even when we stumble, He will again and again reach out to us. Therefore I shall be His child for all of my days. I know it is a process but I trust God to support me and to guide me in my walk with Him. I will continue to hand over all my fears to Him, knowing that He will take care of it. I know that drugs tried but God denied it from controlling my life!
I am so grateful that God brought Testimony Treasures Ministry to our church this week because I now understand that my story needs to be shared to bring hope to others who are facing these same challenges that I have faced. God indeed works with a plan. Amen.
Footnote: When Stephne and I arrived in Nababeeb on Saturday 19 September 2015 we drove through this small town to explore. As we passed the Assemblies of God church, two gentlemen came walking out. We stopped to enquire about the time of the church service and it was then that Shaun approached us with his vibrant personality. He was just too happy to provide us with all the information and to invite us to their church. Stephne and I attended the service on Sunday and it was such a blessing to worship with a church full of God-loving people. They had a visiting missionary form Netherland called Erica, who led the service. The theme of the service was: “God’s provision is much bigger than our needs”. We met Pastor Peter on Monday and he invited us for supper at his house on Tuesday and requested that TTM lead the Bible study on Wednesday evening. We really felt so at home among these people – what a blessing!!
If and when this Testimony has spoken into your heart, please go to the Commitment page.