Early marriage and poverty was the life of most women in the village of Julukuqu but Yandiswa Ngqame's great job as a military librarian came after hard work and a life-changing decision.
"Children were not allowed to attend school, as it was seen as a place for lazy people. Girls once they reach teen age were forced into marriage, and boys were sent to the mines to dig gold," Yandiswa explains of her village.
Following marital difficulties between her parents, at age ten Yandiswa's mother could no longer support her, so she lived with family friends, extended family and older sisters.
Her parents were Christian church leaders and encouraged her to see the importance of putting God in charge of her life.
Yet Yandiswa rejected her village's values as well as God and says she "became stubborn like any other teenager", causing difficulties between her and her family.
Her mind changed about God after she turned 16, because she says, "I did not see myself escaping from poverty and (an early) marriage."
"I remembered my father's teachings, as he often quoted Psalm 46, 'God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.'
"I decided to 'seek the Lord while He may be found', as my parents taught me from Isaiah 55, verse 6."
Based on what her parents had shared about God's goodness, Yandiswa and her niece visited a nearby Christian church tent-based meeting.
They heard a testimony of God's goodness from a teenage girl who quoted Joshua 1, verse 5.
This verse reads, "No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you."
"In this verse," Yandiswa explains, "God is telling Joshua to have courage, and gave him a promise to protect him and take care of him."
She shares that after this testimony about God taking care of those who trust Him, "I felt something happening in my life."
"I had a dream of becoming educated one day, getting a better job and providing for my family.
"That evening I trusted in Jesus as Lord and Saviour. I started a new journey with Jesus in control of my life."
Circumstances did not suddenly change, yet Yandiswa says God miraculously changed how she responded to difficulties.
"Things were different (in my life) because I would remember what God promised in His Word and meditate on His words in the Bible."
She obtained a university education and was glad to be able to pray to God for help when her varsity assignments overwhelmed her.
"In Psalm 50, verse 15, God says to call upon Him in the day of trouble and He will deliver us and we shall glorify Him."
Yandiswa was encouraged to push through her difficulties and came out of university with her qualification.
Today she is the principal librarian at the SA Navy's Warfare Training School in Simonstown.
"My journey with Jesus has been so marvellous," she says enthusiastically.
"I am a living testimony that God is a provider, and all things are possible with Him."
Yandiswa explains that it is only God's undeserved kindness that has protected her from harm in the Navy.
"When I saw close friends of mine die in front of me, I felt privileged in God's eyes (for his protection)," she continues. "I am here today because of God's everlasting mercy."
Before her father died she recalls that he was proud of her and the godly woman she has become.
"Today I am among highly respected people in the military culture because of God's love upon me," she adds.
"What God has done in my life He can do for you," she wants to share with others.
"God blessed me with this job, and He continues to bless me. Today I am so proud to regard myself as a woman of God."•