I am Edwin Phathenyana Molematsela, a middle aged man who resides in the Khekhenye Village, Central Kalahari Desert, Botswana. I grew up in the village of Tshwaane, about 50 km from Khekhenye. Our family was big, I had 7 siblings. My parents were very strict with us and I was scared of them.
At a young age I got addicted to alcohol and later marijuana due to me hanging out with the wrong friends. These guys had money and thereby sustained our addiction. I recall myself disappearing for days, not even knowing where I was and how I got there, because I was under the influence of these substances. Although this scared me it was not enough to convince me to give up on my bad habits. As a matter of fact things just got worse. The drugs changed my behaviour to the extent that I became very aggressive when I was drunk. I assaulted many people for no reason. I realised that I was on a path of destruction but I simply could not control my behaviour nor my addiction.
I was the only one in my family who used alcohol and smoked marijuana. Because of my fear of my parents and the fact that I knew that I was a disgrace to them, I decided to rather move away and eventually settled in Khekhenye village. The sad thing is that I could run from those who cared for me but I could not run from my addiction – it followed me to Khekhenye.
I met a girlfriend who was concerned about my bad habits and therefore tried to convince me to stop drinking and smoking. Once she told me that she will pray for me and she invited me to attend church with her. Initially I was reluctant to do this. However, during my girlfriend’s pregnancy I tried numerous churches but never felt the call of God in any of these churches. I remember attending the Seventh Day Adventists Church one Saturday. During this service it felt as if the pastor was speaking to me personally – this scared me so much that I decided to rather not attend any church again and to rather just stay intoxicated.
My girlfriend and I had a second child and the social grants (child support grants) that we received from government I used to sponsor my addiction. This caused a lot of unhappiness in our family. On top of this I became very ill, my blood started oozing through my skin. My wife said that it was the marijuana that was killing me. Not even this could convince me to stop using the drugs. I was at a point where I believed that stopping would kill me – it would be like committing suicide. Again I had to run away from those who loved me – my wife and my children.
I took the money we had (600 Pula), bought a bag of marijuana and fled to the cattle post where my family could not find me. I happen to also have a packet of cigarettes with me.
Knowing that my wife has never stopped praying for me, I thought that, whilst hiding there in the bush, I should perhaps also try to speak to God. Initially I prayed “small” prayers. I recall asking God to help me overcome this very serious addiction that was destroying my relationship with my family as well as my health. Suddenly I got this idea of praying to God every time I had a craving for marijuana. Instead of smoking marijuana when the cravings came, I prayed and then smoked a cigarette. By the time the packet of cigarettes was finish my craving for marijuana had reduced drastically. Seeing that I had no more cigarettes, I simply continued to pray whenever the craving for marijuana came – I was now praying four times per night and even more during the day!!
During this time many questions arose in me:
• How was the universe created?
• Who am I?
• Is there really a God?
I decided to return home to tell my family that I have overcome my addiction through prayer and to find answers to these questions. Whilst sharing the good news with my wife she said that she always knew that God would eventually lead me home because she never stopped praying for me. I happen to have a Bible at home that belonged to my mother. I started reading the book of Genesis and there my question about creation was answered. I knew then that the other answers will be unveiled as I continue to study the Word of God.
I joined the church in Khekhenye early in 2015 and was baptised in June of that year. Later in the same year there was an outreach by missionaries in Gopong village. I attended this and felt the Holy Spirit working in my life. God was giving me back my strength and my health and soon I was able to learn some new skills and this enabled me to earn an income for my family. God has already blessed me with a car and I am in the process of buying a second car so that I could grow my business.
Although I have been living with my partner for many years we have decided to start saving money for a wedding because we believe that we should get married like Christians are supposed to do.
I thank the Lord for rescuing me from my bad life, for giving me a partner that never gave up on prayer and hope. If God can change the life of a man of a small village in the middle if the Kalahari Desert, then surely He can do it for anyone by His grace.
Edwin (Khekhenye, Botswana)
If and when this Testimony has spoken into your heart, please go to the Commitment page.