I gave Sharon Chasa (40) a lift to Plettenberg Bay on my way down from PE to Cape Town last year September. From the moment she stepped into my car, I knew that I had picked up a passionate Jesus follower. She had just been on an outreach and was on her way back home. In the short distance we shared the road, she told me her testimony – of how God saved her from a life of prostitution, alcohol, gangsterism and violence. And how God is using her to help others find Him.
Though we kept contact, we only recently met again when she was the guest speaker at a Women’s Day prayer gathering in Kleinskool, Port Elizabeth. It‘s evident that God is using her. Many women shared afterwards how they were touched by her testimony.
Nancy, as she prefers to be called, comes from the Tsitsikamma area, but spent many years in Plettenberg Bay, where she made choices she regrets. She was an abused and emotionally neglected teenager and believed that she was only worth to “serve” men in what they wanted. At the time she did not know any better. Drinking helped her to cope with a miserable life of eating out of bins and sleeping under the bushes. During this time on the streets she had two daughters and later married a man only because he could give her a roof over her head and food – and drink with her.
Nancy said she had no idea how to raise kids. “They just came. I didn’t think about it. I was 17 with the first one and at the time it was just something that happened.” So the two daughters were neglected of much needed proper care and attention. The eldest eventually also took to the streets.
The turn around
One night, lying drunk in her room after visiting a tavern, it felt as if her bed was burning. There were no flames though and she got really scared because she thought she was dying. She tried to wave to people passing her window, but it was long past midnight and no-one saw her. They also did not hear her calling to them. After some time she remembered that her grandma prayed to a God and that there were women in the area praying throughout the night. She went to them and gave her life to Christ. Her journey with God began.
“It remains a journey,” she says. “Though I’ve worked through many things, the memories are still painful at times, but there is more and more healing.”
Yet there were other challenges.
“When you get pulled into the church, there is lots of warmth and love. But once you’re in the church, you don’t feel that warmth and acceptance any more. So it is hard not to go back where you came from, because there is a feeling of belonging out there where you come from. The gangsters take care of each other, they accept each other. Also the prostitutes have a sense of belonging between them. And that acceptance, almost unconditional, is what makes it hard to resist the temptation to go back. Even if it’s a hard life that awaits you. That is what you know and where you’ve always felt at home. That’s why new converts often fall back into their old ways.”
Nancy had two more daughters; her conversion happening about a year before the last one was born.
“With the younger two daughters my eyes were opened and I realised the responsibilities of motherhood. So many children experience what my eldest two had to go through. I wish those mothers could know how their children need their time and attention.” she says.
It’s been 10 years since God has given her new hope, a new identity and self-worth. At times she desperately struggled financially, but it was also a time in which she experienced how God could provide miraculously. “At one point I had to go without income for six months and we only had salt left in the house. For about three days I would put salt on my daughters’ tongues and let them drink water. That was their food. Then some women in the area were prompted by the Holy Spirit to bring us food. And shortly after that time I got a monthly amount of money in my bank account for six months that, up to today, I do not know where it came from. That is how God can provide.”
In January Nancy felt a calling to move to Clarkson, between Humansdorp and Kareedouw, where she started “Christ the Solution” ministry.
Starting there on her own has not been easy. The daughters had to adjust to their new school and surroundings and the hardship of the people around her is sometimes too much for her.
“The people are so poor and there is a lot of drugs and alcohol abuse. The people are also not really open for God’s Word, yet the church has grown from six members to 36,” she says. “But we need lots of prayer for the area. God can do big things.”
And a week after addressing the women at Kleinskool, Nancy’s eldest daughter gave her life to Christ and visited her mother for the first time in a very long time.
“I am just crying with joy. We spoke and shared and I am just so overwhelmed. God has done so much in my life. I just want to do more and more for Him!”
Nancy can be contacted on cell no. 084 539 6120.