Left lonely, broke and desperate at Christmas, Ann realised there was only one person who could save her
Ann Mtabati could not sleep without consuming alcohol but she could never admit that she was an alcoholic and a neglectful mother.
"Every month I would borrow from loan sharks and spend large amounts of money on alcohol," Ann confesses.
"I didn't care if my children lacked something. My mom did not give me love, so I must also not have known how to give them love."
To buy more alcohol Ann started selling her house furniture to the point that they did not even have chairs to sit on but says she "did not care as long as I was drunk."
"My house was always full with friends that I thought loved me. People would always come and wait for my husband to come home on his pay day so we could drink together.
"I never recognised that my children were neglected. My life was all about my friends and alcohol."
Then one December day, when the pay packet and the alcohol were gone, people stopped visiting even though it was the Christmas season.
"I thought that this is the time when friends and family should be together but there was no one as I was sitting in my house. I had nothing, no food for my children, no Christmas clothes for them. Just me and my empty house," Ann says sadly.
"I went to my friends to ask for help but no one could help. My family rejected me. I had to look somewhere else for a plan. The loan sharks told me my credit was too high."
"On that Christmas, I got one plate from my sister for my children to share. As I was going home I felt the pain seep inside but I asked myself, 'Who am I going to cry to for help?'
"On the Saturday night, I went to bed at midnight but the bed felt like it was on fire.
"That was when I turned the radio on and heard a woman speak about God. I stood up and felt like I was sinking. I started crying on my knees and called out to a name, but I did not know which God."
Based on what she heard, Ann says she began asking people about what she must do to know who God was and what He wanted from her.
"I started to look for a place where I could serve God. I was driven to seek God. I knew that if there's someone who could help me, it was God."
The next day Ann told her neighbour about what had happened and this neighbour explained that she should pray to God and tell Him that she wanted to surrender her life in obedience to Him.
"I said, 'Lord, I give up'," Ann recalls. "I started saying to myself: I can stop drinking! That Sunday, I began looking for a church and I began praying with another woman."
Finally, Ann says she started crying when she heard a sermon at the church she now attends: "I realised that there is a God who loves me and I stood up and they prayed for me. I was not afraid to tell them my story because I knew that anyone who repents [turns away from their sin] to God will be saved."
"A week later my husband and I decided to be baptised in water as a public declaration of our faith in Jesus Christ. I asked the Lord to fill me with His Spirit. As I was entering the water, I felt the power of God over me. I felt the change in that I was accepted by God."
Ann then asked her children for forgiveness and, along with her husband, they went to buy food and clothing for their children on pay day.
Now she adds that they have new Christian friends who genuinely care and help her.
"Now, I thank God for everything in my life," she says with a smile.