From plenty to prison to praise

Rehlwe Madihlaba

Rehlwe Madihlaba had everything: a bright career, a happy family, big pay-checks. Now, most of that has been stripped away and she is behind bars. She was a part of the Ponzi scheme, a fraudulent investment scam.

She should be miserable and wallowing in self-pity but she isn't. In fact, she has described her experience in prison as "the richest time of my life."

Rehlwe begins: "I was brought up by a single parent. My mom always wanted the best for me. I have been to the best schools and have obtained my BA degree in psychology. I have worked for various companies. I was at the peak of my career and chased after wealth. I was always concerned about being the best. Being an only child, I was taught to be a high achiever."

Rehlwe's life was cultivated around the idea of "you have to be number one in everything."

She has a background in Christianity. When she was younger, she was taken to church by her mom and she even received Jesus into her heart. She admits, though, she did not take it too seriously.

"I was just too familiar with playing church," she tells Challenge. "Church was a place where I went to kill time or see my friends."

"By the time I was 23, I was living on my own. I went clubbing, drinking and smoking. I was very arrogant. I thought I had done it all on my own, not knowing God was in fact the one enabling me to achieve everything that I had."

Then, Rehlwe's life came crashing down around her when she was arrested for unknowingly participating in a pyramid scheme. She was charged with fraud and is currently awaiting trial.

"Although I didn't know it at the time, coming to prison was a part of God's divine plan," she affirms. "I reflected back and realised that I had really wasted time and that I had turned my back on God."

Rehlwe had always heard about the Gospel [the good news of Jesus saving us from our sins] but now she knows how precious an intimate relationship with God really is.

Jesus has
Himself so
real ... he
is my rock
of help

"I rededicated my life to God," she smiles. "I confessed Jesus to be the Lord of my life. I want Him to be at the centre of my life. I want to be found at His feet all the days of my life. I want to live for Jesus and the rest will follow. Jesus has proven Himself so real. He is my Ebenezer [my rock of help]."

She goes on to say, "I am not playing church anymore. I know God now. It is an awesome experience. I have a peace that surpasses all understanding. I have realised that all that I am, all that I have and going to achieve is all because of God. To God be the glory!"

Rehlwe's favourite passage from the Bible comes from Lamentations 3:22-23: "Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness."

"Jesus is real and He forgives. We often look for more, not realising we have abundantly enough," she states. "I know my God will restore. He is faithful and all things work together for good."

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