44-year old Reen Naicker from Phoenix has been healed of his addiction of 30 years through CAST in partnership with Project Exodus, and partner church, Cornerstone Community Church (CCC). Reen’s journey out of addiction began with attending a weekly support group meeting at CCC. This was made possible through the meeting of the leadership of Project Exodus and CAST at the Ibandla Malivuke Conference in 2018 which led to the formation of a partnership that has gone on to help many substance abusers in the community, like Reen, as well as their families and supporters.
For Reen, he testifies that it was only through the grace of God that he has been set free, able to overcome his addiction and is now four months sober. Before this, Reen had been in suffering since he began using substances at an early age. His habit soon developed into an addiction, but Reen felt that he had it under control, so much so that his wife and child were not even aware of his problem.
This was until Reen moved onto more potent drugs like heroin and whoonga. His life took a drastic turn and he began spiralling downwards, losing his job, his house and those closest to him. He stayed with his sister for a while and was allowed to bring his daughter over regular visits, but his desperation took hold and he began stealing from his sister’s house to feed his addiction. They soon withdrew their support, and Reen had nowhere else to turn to but the streets, feeling that people had given up on him and was too ashamed to face his child.
His health deteriorated, growing weak and thin, and he contracted Tuberculosis. While on the streets, Reen would only mix with other addicts. Lying and using foul language became second-nature to Reen. He had lost who he was and would cry out to God, praying for answers. “I couldn’t see the glory in all of this,” he says. “God had his hand upon me, but I never saw it. I always thought I was fighting this battle on my own. I thought God left me.”
On his way to a tuckshop one day, Reen came into contact with a Pastor who told him of the support group meetings at CCC, and was referred to Raheel Govender, the CAST Phoenix Community Co-ordinator. Reen went to see Raheel and asked to be registered for the programme. Even in taking this step, Reen did not feel that others took him seriously given his history with relapsing. Regardless, he pitched up to the meeting, late, with the expectation of receiving medication that would make his pain and withdrawal symptoms go away. But instead, Reen discovered that it was much more than that as the trained volunteers from the local church and Project Exodus were heavily invested in the holistic transformation of each addict in recovery, offering support groups for both the recovering addict as well as supporters of the addicts.
Reen attended the meetings in faith, learning more and meeting people who he felt supported by. Pastor Clement Moses of CCC asked Reen if he really wants to change his life and if he would be willing to go to Jump Youth Mission, a centre for the rehabilitation of addicts using a Christ-centred approach to treatment. This was the answer to Reen’s prayers. Without hesitation, he took the opportunity and went. Conrad and the team from Project Exodus played a vital role in acquiring funds as well as care and support for Reen to be accommodated at the Mission house.
Although he is still on the journey to full recovery, Reen now feels he has been set free from the addiction. He has cleaned up not only his physical well-being, but feels emotionally and spiritually strong as well, and has been tasked with the responsibility of overseeing the kitchen and looking after the centre when the Pastor is not there. Part of the programme also sees Reen doing outreach on Sundays, cooking for people in the communities, and ministering to those in need. From living selfishly and arrogantly, Reen now puts others’ needs before his own and carries out his duties at the centre with a sense of humility.
Reen’s sister now visits him at the mission and has opened the door to support him when he returns home. Reen has also improved his relationship with his ex-wife and daughter, who he looks forward to seeing every Thursday at the support group meetings at CCC, where he is encouraged to share his testimony with others who are still in the grips of addiction.
“God is working wonderful things in my life. I broke a lot of relationships and hurt a lot of people. Now that I’m in recovery and the spirit of the Lord is upon me, I’ve learnt to be a responsible person, a father. I serve others for the glory of the Lord. I live honestly, lying is now the most difficult thing for me. If I go wrong, I ask for God’s forgiveness. It’s a journey.”
As of July 2020, CAST is proud to officially partner with Project Exodus, with a mission to “provide sustainable solutions, and harness the transformative power of the networked Church to make expert recovery resources accessible for all South Africans.” The programme will be implemented in three more of CAST’s partner churches namely: Kingdom Connect Ministries in Mariannridge, Mount Zion Church in KwaDabeka, and Home Ground Westville Baptist Church. If you would like to contribute towards the expansion of this programme, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call +27(0)31 2668830.