Officer Rudi’s awakening

I was not prepared to die, says former cop

Rudi Van Zyl
Rudi Van Zyl admits his life was “dominated by alcohol abuse and fighting”

Rudi Van Zyl was a police officer who loved to party and drink with his friends, yet a fear of the judgement of death remained.

"Every time I looked at a deceased person in my job, I heard an inner voice ask me where I would be if I was dead," Rudi explains.

Although he was raised as the son of a church pastor he confesses he had a combative attitude, which resulted in his attraction to the police force.

"I had the intention of becoming a successful, dedicated hardworking cop," he recalls.

However, he says his lifestyle was "dominated by alcohol abuse and fighting".

"From childhood I loved fighting. I had an arrogant attitude especially when I joined the police force. Lying, stealing, immorality and almost every other sin was part of my lifestyle."

Although his offences were never discovered Rudi could not shake his guilt because when he looked at a dead body a chilling truth came over him.

"I just knew that I was not prepared to die," Rudi says.

"I foolishly decided that when a bullet entered my body I would turn to Jesus!"

Then a convicting voice, which Rudi knows was God, spoke to him in February, 2000.

“I asked God why he killed my brother and not me”"The Holy Spirit asked me, 'When will you turn to Jesus for your salvation?'

"I told God, 'Lord I want to repent, but my friendships and parties have power over me.'

"God clearly responded, 'I am going to speak very loud.'"

The next morning Rudi remembers standing in the mortuary identifying someone very close to him.

"I identified the body of my younger brother who was killed in a car accident. Three months earlier he had believed in Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour.

"I asked God why he killed my brother and not me, because I was living in sin and deserved to be killed.

"God said to me, 'I did not come to kill but to save!'"

A few weeks later, Rudi discovered that these words were written in the Bible.

"I found Jesus said in Luke chapter 9, 'For the Son of Man [Jesus] did not come to destroy [people's lives], but to save [them].'"

Rudi pondered these words about God's undeserved kindness to him even though God knew about all his wrong-doing and evil thoughts. Days later he came to a deep conviction.

"I felt like I was the filthiest person who ever lived on earth. I had the deepest desire to get rid of all my sin.

"I wanted to get right with God, for Him to change me, so I would no longer live in sin and guilt."

Picking up his sister's Bible, Rudi began praying desperately.

"As I became desperate in prayer, I realised that my tears and repentance cannot save me because God does not owe me salvation. So I begged Him for His love which I did not deserve, confessing that I despised Jesus' sacrifice for me for so many years.

"When I asked for God's mercy, I immediately realised my sins were gone! I just knew God had forgiven me."

Since that day Rudi has known he has peace with God.

"I know without a doubt that I will spend eternity in heaven with Jesus when I die.

"God made me free from all the sins I was addicted to, and He gave me a love for His Word the Bible, prayer and meeting with other Christians."

He also had a desire to tell other people about Jesus, not out of obligation, but because he wanted to.

"The Bible verse became true: 'if any man be in Christ, he is a new creation: old things are passed away; behold all things are new' (2 Corinthians 5, verse 17)."

Shortly after his new life with Jesus began Rudi resigned from the police force. Following four years in private work he had theological training and became a church pastor in 2007.

"I know that it is 'God who works in [me] to will and to work for His good pleasure" (Philippians 2:13). And that I must "neither give place to the devil', according to Ephesians chapter 4, and avoid places and people where I will be tempted to sin.

"God enabled me to trust Him for a deeper work in my life so that I can live in spiritual victory," Rudi says gladly.

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