My name is Louis Fourie and was born in Johannesburg in1963. I was raised in a “Christian house” in South Africa, where we went to church every Sunday morning, as was the tradition. My parents were Sunday Christians, but come Monday, they forgot all about God, until the next Sunday.
They were Christians but without the power of the Gospel. My father smoked pipe and, I think, they read their Bible and prayed, at times. One of the things I remember so clearly was that every Sunday, we went to church in my dad’s Chevrolet 4.1.
My dad was always smoking and puffing away on his pipe. My mother was fanatical about her hair, and the windows of the Chevy were always closed to prevent any breath of wind entering the car and disturbing her hair. I was one of two children and my brother and I could not breathe in the stuffiness of the car. When we arrived at church and got out of the car, it looked as if the car was on fire. My brother and I were always coughing and sucking in fresh air, as clouds of smoke poured from the open doors.
There we sat in church, between our parents, not allowed to breathe hard, or even move. If you moved or just looked around you would be pinched or be jabbed with the elbow. While the “Dominie” preached, I sat there impatiently. I could not wait for the end of the service, so we could go home.
That was how I grew up. Church was all but an exciting event in my life. It was rather dull, boring and bothersome. I knew some things about God, but God was not a reality in my life at that time.All I knew was religion.
Growing up, I learned the “catechism” doctrine of the church. When you reach a certain age you complete your training, (your indoctrination), you are then accepted as a member and you are considered saved by keeping the customs and beliefs of the church. You now have your ticket to heaven. I am thankful for all the Word knowledge I learned in that church and I know today that God had a purpose in raising me in such an environment.
God has a purpose for all churches and it took me a while to realise that.
I wrote Matric (Standard 12) in 1981 and began working in 1982, at the age of eighteen; I went to the army for two years, got married and moved out of my parent’s home, as it was necessary for me to get married, because my girlfriend was pregnant. Two children were born of this marriage, but my salary was not sufficient to support the four of us. This resulted in us struggling. I remembered during this time, that I was a member of the church I grew up in, so I found out where the local church was and asked for help.
The preacher of this church said we should come see him on Monday and so off we went. He started by counselling us on marriage, but we told him that we needed food, not counselling. To make a long story short, we received no food but lots of counselling. Later, we went on our way, very disappointed because we had heard that God’s children (the church) are always helping the needy. We were really in need. I realised that the people in that church were mostly well off, judging by their cars and clothes, but they had nothing for the needy.
Matthew 19:21: Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, go and sell all you have and give the money to the poor, and you will have riches in heaven; then come and follow me.”(GNB)
James 2:3-6: If you show more respect to the well-dressed man and say to him, “Have this best seat here, but say to the poor man, Stand over there, or sit here on the floor by my feet, then you are guilty of creating distinctions among yourselves and of making judgments based on evil motives.
Listen, my dear friends! God chose the poor people of this world to be rich in faith and to possess the kingdom which he promised to those who love him. But you dishonour the poor! Who are the ones who oppress you and drag you before the judges? The rich! (GNB)
During those days the Lord carried us, even though we vented our anger at the Church. We were not prepared to go to church or serve the Lord; but still the Lord took care of us.
We moved after I got another job. The money was still not much to live on, so I started stealing things from work like tools etc. and selling them. I started picking up scrap metal and selling it and then I stole aluminium cables, for the purpose of selling. At that point of my life I was lost and if I had to die then, I would have gone to hell.
I knew deep inside that I was lost and that I was a “thief”. My wife and I started to fight a lot, mostly over money. I started drinking, whenever one of our clients gave me liquor. The fighting would become violent and we would start to scream and throw things at each other. This was my lifestyle and God had no place in it.
Proverbs 30:8-9: keep me from lying, and let me be neither rich nor poor. So give me only as much food as I need. If I have more, I might say that I do not need you. But if I am poor, I might steal and bring disgrace on my God. (GNB)
My brother never came to my home because he was gay and I did not want my children to be exposed to his lifestyle. He was working as a data Clark and did not earn much, less than me, but he drove an expensive BMW and he had the most expensive clothes and furniture, and imported curtains, etc.
One day he just came uninvited and he asked to see me. He told me that he was sick and did not have the heart to tell my parents. On leaving he could not drive his car and I saw that he was really sick.
We took him to the local hospital and they admitted him immediately. We learned then that my brother had H.I.V. and that the sickness had already developed into full-blown AIDS. He was dying and nobody on this earth could save him. I was devastated and so were my parents.
My mother could not stop crying, and my father was a hard man but I could see that he was a broken man. I did not know which hurt him more; the fact that my brother was gay or that he had AIDS. My mother could not come to terms with it either until recently, because if you talk about Andre, she still starts weeping. My brother Andre was the first AIDS patient in Garden City Hospital in Johannesburg.
In that stage (1991) nobody really knew much about AIDS in South Africa and so the staff of the hospital was very weary and careful around him. They would wear protective clothing with masks and gloves. They looked like aliens from a scary movie and it started to affect us, as well as my brother.
We were there the whole time, supporting and helping him. People soon learned about the fact that my brother had AIDS and would come at night or even when we were home and throw stones on the tin roof of our house and shout threats at us. We found threatening letters in our post boxes, even death threats. People did not understand and neither did we. Andre lived for 2 weeks from the time he was admitted.
The first week he would get upset and he would say to us that he saw my Grandfather that had died a few years ago and that he wanted to come and take him away, and that he was lost and that there was no hope. He would say that he saw my grandfather, standing in the door, waiting for him. He did not want to die, and he said to me that he looked for life and had found death; he wished that he could have been like me.
At that stage, like I have said, I had few earthly possessions, and was not serving the Lord. I was a thief and a poor, lost and perverse man. I did not understand how he would like to be like me.
1 John 2:15-16: Do not love the world or anything that belongs to the world. If you love the world, you do not love the Father. Everything that belongs to the world (“what the sinful self desires, what people see and want, and everything in this world that people are so proud of”) none of this comes from the Father; it all comes from the world. (GNB)
Andre had a relationship with men and with a young woman who had a small daughter. The hardest thing for him was that he slept with her just as he became sick and he had also infected her. She did not know he had AIDS and I did not know if he had told her.
He asked us to go and look for her, but we couldn’t find her. All his so-called friends had fled from him. A mental thing happened to my brother and he started to realise that he was dying and that his life was an abomination to the Lord. He knew that he was a sinner and that his sin would send him to hell. None of us told him that because we also did not realise that. It could only have been the Holy Spirit working in Him.
John 8:9: And they which heard [it], being convicted by [their own] conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, [even] unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. (AMP)
He asked us to get the “Dominie” or Preacher to come and pray for him. He wanted to make things right with God before he died. So we went and phoned the “Dominie”. After 7 attempts we gave up on him because we could hear that he did not want to come. His kept making excuses not coming to the hospital.
Andre’s body was busy decaying and when you came into the passage that led to his room, you could smell him. That smell of death and decay has been burned into my brain forever. The hospital had put him in a private ward at the end of the passage. He was alone in a ward. The doctor came daily and he was shocked and amazed that Andre was still alive.
I think God kept Andre alive for the sole purpose that his soul could be saved.
1 Timothy 2:3-6: for this [is] good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour: Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth? For [there is] one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus: who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time. (AMP)
On a day a stranger stepped into the room and he said that God had sent him to pray for the sick (Andre). I thought to myself, what! This man is insane, how can God talk to a human and send him here. He is a fake, he knows that all people in Hospital are sick, so what’s his story?
He then said that he must see to Andre’s wound, to put on some ointment. Nobody knew about the bedsore that Andre had, but the staff of the hospital and us. I was shocked and amazed all at the same time.
He started touching Andre and wiped away his sweat. The bedsore on Andre’s back was big and his bodily fluids dripped out of it, through the bedding onto the floor. My father tried to stop this stranger because of the fact that AIDS is contagious through bodily fluids but the man said that no sickness will come upon him and even if he drinks poison he would not be harmed.
He was so calm and there were some sort of authority and power around him. He had authority but still the love shined out of him, so visible, you couldn’t but notice it.
2 Corinthians 8:24: Show your love to them, so that all the churches will be sure of it and know that we are right in boasting about you. (GNB)
The stranger led Andre to the Lord Jesus Christ thought Romans 10:9-10 and Andre gave his heart to Jesus, by confessing Jesus as his Lord and he believed in his heart that God the Father raised Jesus from the dead and he was saved from hell. God forgave him all his wrongdoings and all his sins.
Andre also forgave himself. It was a simple prayer that they prayed together and the stranger prayed peace over the family. The stranger left and we were glad that my brother gave his heart to Jesus.
My brother now had peace for the first time in his life.
I couldn’t understand what had happened to Andre. He wanted us to read to him out of the Bible the whole time especially Psalm 23. After he gave his heart to Jesus, Andre had a hunger for God, which I did not understand then. He started laughing and even sticking his tongue out at us and asked why we were so depressed. I found that strange because he was in such a lot of pain and busy dying. He asked us why we were depressed, we must be happy.
Afterwards he said that he saw green landscapes with big trees near water streams and that he heard the wind blowing through them, it was so peaceful.
The “Dominie” came to see Andre for the first time; a couple of days after Andre gave his heart to the Lord. Andre would say that the “Dominie” was crowding him because the stood next to him and that he should sit down. The Dominie was all over the place and he knocked all the articles off the hospital cupboard next to Andre. He scrambled to pick up the fallen things and was an embarrassment to himself and to us. It was obvious he was scared to come too close or even to touch Andre, the opposite to the stranger that led Andre to the Lord. The difference was so obvious that it made me to think.
Andre started coughing up pieces of his lungs as thick as a thumb. He was on full oxygen all the time and his nose; eyes, ears, fingers and feet were blue, due to lack of oxygen. He was so weak that he couldn’t move anymore and couldn’t eat due to the fact that his mouth and throat was full of white sores. It was too painful for him to eat or drink anything. The doctors couldn’t give him any painkillers because they believed that it would have killed him instantly. My brother died from pain, as his death certificate stated.
His face was peaceful, almost as if he was smiling. He looked happy, the only way you could see that he was dead, was by his colour. My father shaved him and left a small goatee. Andre looked so calm, he looked as thought he was sleeping. He had made peace with God.
We buried Andre and went back to our old lives. It bothered me to think about it, that my brother received something spiritually on his deathbed that I did not have. I wanted what he had and I needed Jesus in my life.
Was Andre’s death my catalyst to a better life?
That stranger also had what I was looking for, was it Jesus I longed for?
I was now ready for the rebirth stage in my life, but as days went by, I started to go back to my old ways, forgetting what I have seen. God did not forget me and sent me to a place where I could meet Him.
Jeremiah 29:14: Yes, I say, you will find me, and I will restore you to your land. I will gather you from every country and from every place to which I have scattered you, and I will bring you back to the land from which I had sent you away into exile. I, the Lord, have spoken. (GNB)
I was called up for a three-month camp in the army and off I went, got to the army camp and there we waited for 3 months, doing very little. I started asking questions and there was nobody that could help me with the questions I had warring inside of me.
I went to the “chaplain” (he was the army’s preacher) and he couldn’t help me, because to him it was a just job that he had taken so that he did not have to go into the battle zone himself, so it seemed to me. I saw one of the troops preaching every Sunday and I was on my way to him, after plucking up the courage and I was almost in his tent when I saw him stealing food and giving it to the other troops that were there.
I decided that he was definitely not the guy to ask about the Lord because I couldn’t trust a thief. I thought about who I could trust for a long time. After several weeks of living in conflict with myself, I found that we were on our way back home. I was a driver in the army, and I thought that if I had an accident and died like my brother, I would go to hell. I did not have that “thing” that my brother had.
You can lie to a lot of people, but not to yourself.
I just knew that my life was not right with God. So I started to pray out loud that if there is a living God that He must come into my life and that He must come to save me.
A strange thing happened; I started weeping, the first time in many years. I was brought up in a generation that are taught that a real man never cries. I started singing in the truck, and that was also a first. I got to base in Bloemfontein and that night we had to sleep in a hanger on the rough cement. The only way I knew how to get through the night was to drink and to pass out, and I did just that.
The next morning, I had a hangover and I thought that God would not forgive me because I had sinned again. I got home and after a few days my wife started asking me why I was different and strange. I felt the same and I could not see any difference in what she saw. I did not pray or read the Bible at that stage. My wife said that this army camp was really good for me because I was a different person all of a sudden. I did not know what she was talking about.
Ephesians 2:1: In the past you were spiritually dead because of your disobedience and sins. (GNB)
I realised later that it had to be the fact that I (in my own way, not the Bible way) accepted Jesus into my (live) heart. I prayed my first real prayer and said to Jesus that if He had come into my life that He must also save my wife. A strange thing happened, I got a telephone number from a person at work and he said I must phone it and I thought it was strange because I did not phone strange people.
I got home and told my wife what had happened, and she said, So! Let’s phone. We phoned but the person was not there and they gave us another number to phone.
The lady at the other end of the line said we must come over right now, to her home in a well-known suburb and so we went. When we arrived, I saw that these people were well-off and that they were “high society”. We went to the front door and rang the bell.
An old lady came to answer the door and she grabbed my wife, hugged her and kissing her, said, “Welcome, my child”. I thought that it was family of hers, but then the old lady turned to me and wanted to grab me. I started to flee down the stairs, and she said lovingly; “come, my child”. I said to the woman that she must’ come with this hugging story. I did not know what it was like to be hugged and kissed. I did not know what it was to receive affection, even less to be hugged by a stranger.
The kind lady invited us in and she treated us as if we were old friends, making us tea and visiting with us. She asked us if we knew why we were there, we answered “no”.
She then asked if we knew Jesus, and we said “of course”. She then asked if we had ever invited Jesus into our hearts and if we had ever confessed Jesus as our Lord and Saviour. Quoting, Romans 10:9-10.
“If you shall confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and shall believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you shall be saved. For with the heart man believes unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”
We were confused.
This Lady did not understand that we were confirmed in our church, taught and raised in the church. Of course we knew who Jesus was and believed that He was the Son of God.
She explained the Kingdom of God to us, why we had to repent from sin and that we must be reborn, or we will go to hell. After she explained more carefully, we realised that we had never invited Jesus into our hearts or confessed Jesus as the Lord of our lives. We were not reborn as she explained to us.
John 3:2-8: “unless one is born of water and Spirit, he/she cannot enter into the Kingdom of God”. (ESV)
She led us through the salvation prayer and invited us to her church.
The next Sunday we went to church, and as we walked into the church all the people were like the old lady. They all wanted to hug and kiss. We did not understand what it was with all these people, loving us, even though we did not know them. We were strangers in the church, so we hid on the balcony of the church.
The service started and the people were singing, and some were dancing and others were crying. We did not understand what was going on, because where we came from, you were not allowed to move in a Church service and here the people were free in serving God.
We liked the peace that we experienced in that church, the music, and the freedom these people showed and the joy that they had.
Then the strangest thing happened. After they had sung, I heard a person speaking out loud in another tongue. It sounded like the person was speaking in Japanese. I looked at my wife and she looked at me. I did not want to be in a church were there were Japanese speaking people that I couldn’t understand.
The next moment everyone was quiet, and I saw a man in the band take off his musical instrument and he looked up into my face. He prophesied and he said. “Why are you hiding under the bushes, and why have you removed your wedding ring?” and he said some other things, but I couldn’t remember it all.
It was as if the living God spoke directly into my soul.
1 Corinthians 14: 22: therefore tongues are for a sign, not to those who believe but to unbelievers; but prophesying is not for unbelievers but for those who believe.
The words were simple, and I did not really understand them, but something happened inside my soul. Later God showed me that He wanted to have a Covenant with me.
A covenant is like marriage, and the ring is the symbol thereof.
I started to weep uncontrollably, and my children and wife were totally stunned and confused. They have never seen me weeping before in their lives. The next thing I could remember was that I ran down the stairs into the prayer room. When I got there I fell down on my face and wept uncontrollably and then other people also came into the room and every body was weeping and praying.
The old lady came to the prayer room and she prayed for me again and I believed that’s where I gave my heart totally to Jesus.
Go read : https://hubpages.com/relationships/Yeshua-Forming-me Yeshua forming me, My life’s story continuing.
I was reading your testimony with tears in my eyes. What a awesome God we serve!! What happened to Andre, could only have been God Almighty…nothing else explains it. I’m so happy for your family.
Blessings from a fellow south african.
Thanks, Yes God is good, where in SA?