Keith Hickman and his wife Sharon lead a vibrant life group at their home in Cape Town where Keith says they worship God with fellow believers “like they did in the early Church days, breaking bread and fellowshipping”.
“And the amazing thing is that God is adding to our numbers daily,” says Keith.
It wasn’t always that way. Keith used to be an angry fighter with no interest in God. But then he moved to a new house — next door to a lifestyle evangelist who led a church in the neighbourhood. And well…here is Keith’s story, in his own words:
“I am a 55 year old, born and bred in Cape Town, the youngest of four, which might have had something to do with me having to fight for everything my whole life.
“At a very young age — probably around thirteen or so — I discovered that putting your fists up and hitting first earned me a reputation, which become my ‘drug’ of choice.
“The fighting became an adrenalin rush for me and this was my fix. The fighting was so bad that friends would not go out with us, as it usually ended in a physical fight with someone.
“This continued and became so bad that my wife, who was also my high school sweetheart, threatened to leave me.
“My fighting did slow down but now came the anger issues and would fly off the handle at the drop of a hat.
“In December of 2000 we moved into a new home and Wally [Wally Gerstmeier — see his story] was my new neighbour. My wife started going to Life Changers Church [then led by Wally and Shirley Gerstmeier] and Wally started talking to me about Jesus. at every opportunity.
“Wally would ask if I had made right with God and the standard answer would be: ‘Leave me alone Wally, I do not need religion in my life.’
“On one occasion I was working on some old timber to build a bar and Wally asked if I enjoyed doing this. I told him that I enjoyed taking something that had been thrown away by someone and making something new from it, to which he replied that Jesus could do that for me. This started me thinking and asking questions about Jesus.
“On 4th November 2008 Wally again asked if I had made right with God. I told him that I had not but that it was something I should be doing. He then said: ‘How about now?’ To my absolute shock I replied: ‘OK, let’s do it.’ So over the wall Wally prayed with me for my salvation and bingo it was done. I have never looked back.
“Wally now had his work cut out as the questions and arguments were plentiful. Luckily I had Sharon my wife and Carrie my daughter to help me along the way.
“The amazing thing is that God took away from me the anger, drinking, fighting, swearing without me even having asked for them to be taken away. These were obviously important to Him and He did an immediate work — no waiting or praying about it. This was a real highlight for me.
“One of the things I used to say often in my BC days was that people always turn to Christianity when they are at their lowest point and have nowhere else to turn. Well, at this stage I was at the top of my game, had everything my heart desired and needed for nothing. How amazing is our God that he should save me at this time.
“One of the challenges I had initially was learning how to ‘do life in community’ as all my life it was me, myself and I. I had to learn how to ask for help and accept blessings when they arose, and there certainly have been plenty of those.
“The other challenge I had was being able to forgive myself for what I had done to others. I knew that I had been forgiven by the blood of Jesus but found it very difficult to forgive myself.
“The biggest lesson that I have learned in my walk is DO NOT WRESTLE WITH GOD, you are going to lose. He will always lovingly correct you and the quicker you accept His ways the better for you.”