Natasja Barnard works at a place of safety for women where she teaches a Christian-based recovery programme.
What is remarkable about this young woman is that not so long ago she was addicted to drugs and involved in prostitution.
She has come a long way with God in a relatively short time.
She became an addict and prostitute after experiencing abuse and rape at a young age.
When she was using drugs her self worth was low, she didn’t care about herself and people rejected her. She tried to commit suicide three times. There was a point where even her mother and sister closed the door to her and she thought about suicide. But instead she listened to an inner voice that told her to go stay at her uncle’s house.
Her life took a positive turn after her brother accepted Jesus while he was in prison. Barnard realised she needed to follow her brother’s example and she accepted Jesus as her Lord and Saviour at an altar call during a church service.
After her decision for Christ she went to stay at Bet Sheekoom House of Restoration, a Port Elizabeth shelter and rehabilitation centre for women in distress. She gave up drug use and prostitution but found it difficult to give up alcohol at first.
Barnard gave her life completely to God on January 1, 2012, the same day her sister’s baby boy was born. She says the birth of the baby made her realise she had to clean up her act. After her complete surrender to God she was able to give up alcohol.
Natasja did the Lifelink recovery programme at Bet Sheekoom under Kimberly Grayson, a missionary counsellor who drowned in January last year.
Barnard says that God showed her in a dream that she must teach the programme which includes life management skills, character development and communication skills. She has been teaching the course for the past year and is a valued member of the staff team at Bet Sheekoom.
She says that she is able to do a lot more now and believes in herself. She says Gary and Shelley Koekemoer, who run Bet Sheekoom are like father and mother figures to her.
“They have been an amazing support,” she says. She says the couple took her back even after she relapsed for a second time. They told her: “You’re a overcomer”- and she certainly is one.
Barnard recalls that things started to change for her when a church friend said that she must be grateful for all the blessings that she has and accept her changed life. Her goal is to get her learner’s and driver’s licences soon so that she can offer more assistance at Betsheekoom. She is also about to start a four month lifeline counselling course, and she hopes to study psychology or social work in the future. She would also like to take the Lifelink course overseas to women who need it, perhaps in India or Singapore.
Betsheekoom House of Restoration is a place of safety that can house up to 16 women (and some children). It pays for all the women’s expenses. They have to turn people away every week because they don’t have room to house them. They aspire to getting larger premises. They depend on sponsors and donations. Sponsors can call Gary on 041-5823321.