Jannie’s decadent lifestyle was traded for lasting peace
From a typical "Afrikaner" upbringing in South Africa, Jannie Viljoen was thrilled to escape his parents' religious restraints and abandon himself to "wine, women and song", while still believing he was right with God.
As he began his twenty-year career as a teacher in the 1970s, Jannie admits that a regular salary led to alcohol dependence.
"I could not function without alcohol in my system," Jannie says. "It was destroying me and I did not even realise it!"
After a decade of his decadent lifestyle, Jannie recalls that a woman showed him through her words and lifestyle that his personal beliefs and actions were contrary to the teachings of Jesus Christ in the New Testament.
Until this "true Christian" entered his life, he confesses, "I was recklessly moving headlong on the road of destruction to eternal hell and heartache."
It dawned on him that he had no desire to obey Jesus' teaching saying, "I was still under the judgement of God."
"The fact that I grew up in a Christian home, was baptised as an infant and even confirmed in the church, could do nothing for my sinful nature," he explains.
His Christian friend shared Jesus' words: "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me."
Ultimately, Jannie recalls "I confessed to Jesus that I was a sinner, acknowledged that He died for my sins and asked Him to come into my life as my Saviour." Jannie refers to 1 John 1:9, Isaiah 53:5, and John 1:12 as important in his understanding of knowing Jesus personally.
Immediately after this genuine prayer he remembers, "I felt spiritually 'clean'."
"I also knew that God had forgiven me, made me His child, and I was now a 'new' person, as the Bible says in 2 Corinthians 5, verse 17."
"The Lord also brought a Christian girl across my path, who has been my wife now for over 30 years," he reports gladly. Initially, Jannie wanted to become a missionary but when he was no accepted he realised God had a different plan for him so he began theological studies by correspondence.
As a school teacher, Jannie gladly lead many fellow teachers and children to faith in Jesus Christ, and ultimately became a school principal.
Then his voice suddenly left him in 1996.
"I could talk for only a minute before my voice would 'disappear'. A brain scan showed that a virus had somehow entered the brain stem and had destroyed the nerve centre of one of my vocal chords."
“With God all things are
possible”Then, after he left teaching the following year, his voice started to return.
"Three specialists in Pretoria examined me and said that they couldn't understand it but that their tests show that the damaged vocal cord was strengthening."
Jannie believes this was evidence of Jesus' words: "With men it is impossible, but not with God; for with God all things are possible" (Mark 10:27). After completing his theological studies he was asked to pastor a church, which he did for the next 16 years.
"Life has not always been easy, even as a Christian," Jannie concludes, "but I have not once experienced that He wasn't near me and that He couldn't meet my needs.
"I can with full confidence today say that His promise is true: 'I will never leave you, nor forsake you' (Hebrews 13:5)." •