Elreza Mulder has been a committed Christian for over 60 years, but she remembers a time when she was using all her God-given talents for her own glory.
She grew up in "an extremely happy home" where "you bumped against Jesus around every corner". Her parents were pastors and evangelists and Elreza remembers talking to God from the tender age of 4.
But as a young teenager she started following the leading of her friends, drinking alcohol, smoking in secret and swearing.
"I became very rebellious," she confesses.
However, she was also a very talented individual and was not only Victrix Ludorum at school, but the fastest runner, the lead in the school play because of her singing ability and captain of the netball team.
"But I was so unhappy because I was serving myself," she recalls. "I longed for peace. I saw all these people getting saved in our home and crying for joy and I wanted that too.
"My parents, older brother and grandmother were all praying for me to give my life to Jesus."
Elreza had heard the gospel often through her father's preaching and during daily family Bible readings but it was only when her rebellion started to cause unwanted consequences that she turned to God.
"In Year 10 I was the top runner at school. Two weeks before a major athletics meet, which I was expecting to win, I went swimming with a group of friends in the Vaal River, in defiance of my dad's instructions.
"Someone pushed me into the water and I dislocated my knee, ending my chances of competing."
That humbling event led to Elreza looking up at the Southern Cross one night and realising that "I had murdered Jesus with my sins. I crucified Jesus! My heart broke before the love of God that He would forgive me."
She felt particularly drawn to the verse from Isaiah 43:1 where God says "I have called you by name, you are mine."
Since giving herself to God, Elreza has had two passions – Jesus, and caring for and praying for missionaries. Since their retirement, she and her husband, who was a major-general in the army, have been serving with the missionary organisation Back to the Bible, which goes into 30 different countries telling people the good news about how Jesus paid for their sins on the cross.
"The greatest celebration, the greatest victory and adventure in life is belonging to Jesus Christ," declares Elreza joyfully.•