PE man’s descent to tik hell, and return as anti-drugs crusader

Reeze Telling leading souls into the Kingdom.
Reeze Telling leading souls into the Kingdom.

Anybody observing  Reeze Telling  coaching young cricketers, counselling  juvenile drug abusers, or introducing school learners to the Lord Jesus Christ would conclude that he is a young man with a passion to serve and disciple young people.

It would be hard to believe that just two and a half years ago he was a gaunt, broken, tik addict who repeatedly stole from his family and friends to support his habit, scrounged in refuse bins looking for food scraps, and made several attempts to kill himself.

It would also be a challenge to picture him as the ambitious 21-year-old Reeze Telling of eight years ago who played provincial cricket, had lots of money for his age, and seemed on course to achieve his ultimate dream of playing for the Proteas.

God using bad for good
Telling has his own perspective on the three different versions of himself: “God is using the bad that I did for the greater good of His Kingdom.  And I believe that I was not meant to become a professional sportsman. I was meant to become a star for God so that He could use what He did in my life so that I could bring my fellow brothers and sisters in my area to Him.”

In the past year Telling has co-founded two organisations that are respectively taking on the evils of drug addiction and human trafficking, been appointed cricket coach for the Gelvandale Centre of Excellence,  and is partnering with other Christian activists in taking back the streets and the parks of Port Elizabeth’s Northern Areas from gangs.

I chatted to him this week about the twisty road he has travelled to the place where he now serves God and his community.

His father died when he was nine years old and he was raised by his mother and grandmother who did their best to provide him with a stable start in life. He was sent to good schools but left school in his Grade 11 year, at the age of 18, deciding to pursue a career in cricket, a sport in which he had already shone in provincial age-group sides. He enrolled in the Eastern Province Cricket Academy and later grabbed an opportunity to fast-track his career ambitions by transferring to Northerns Cricket where he was soon selected to play for the Titans.

Reeze Telling coaching at the Gelvandale Centre of Excellence.
Reeze Telling coaching at the Gelvandale Centre of Excellence.

Telling pushed himself as a frontline batsman and bowler and paid the price by tearing his left calf ligament. He aggravated the injury by continuing to play, doing his best to hide his agony from his teammates. When he finally saw a doctor, by which time he had signed a contract with a club in England, he was told than unless he took a complete break from cricket for seven to eight years his leg would have to be amputated.

He returned home to Gelvandale, Port Elizabeth where he was initially happy to be reunited with his family. But as he saw his former cricket teammates on television he became depressed as the reality of his broken dreams sunk in. He began to hang out with young people who spent their time riding around in taxis. There were pretty girls and he enjoyed a certain celebrity status because of his sports achievements and his money – he still had an income from sponsors with whom he had signed a two-years contract.

Desperate to be accepted by his new friends he offered to pay for everybody’s admission and drinks costs when they went clubbing. He was introduced to ecstasy and cocaine and started to drink heavily. One night when he did not want to go home to his family because he was drunk he booked into a hotel, inviting his friends to party on with him. That night he was introduced to tik – a drug which he now calls the devil. And certainly his next few years took on a hellish direction.

Lost everything
“When I looked again I had lost everything — all my money and my family. Within the first two years of starting to smoke tik I started to steal from my family and lie to them. Decent friends would invite me to house parties and I would look around their homes for things to steal.”

 Tellings’ descent into drug addiction was frightening. He stole his mother’s wedding ring and sold it for R250 – it was worth R5 000. He also borrowed a friend’s laptop and pawned it, claiming that it was stolen by gangsters. Towards the end of his tik nightmare he stole and sold his mother’s fridge. 

“I found myself in jail four times. You would hear guys screaming at 1 or 2am because they were being raped,” he said.

Things got so bad that he sold drugs for dealers accepting  tik as payment. Sometimes he went for four to five days without eating because he had no appetite as as long as he had drugs. When the drugs ran out he would beg and scrounge for food.

He deceived and manipulated his doting 82-year-old grandmother, getting her to go out and borrow money for him. Late one night she was attacked by dogs and broke her leg while out soliciting money for him. His family moved away leaving him living in the garage of the family home.

Tellind and his Canadian fiancé La Derrah, who are tackling drugs and human trafficking in Nelson Mandela Bay.
Tellind and his Canadian fiancé La Derrah, who are tackling drugs and human trafficking in Nelson Mandela Bay.

During his last of several attempts to commit suicide by taking an overdose of pills he trashed everything in his room and while in a dazed state wrote a letter in which he asked God to take him out of his terrible situation, promising that if God would give him a better life he would give his all to Him. The letter reached his uncle and a pastor who subsequently came to see him. They persuaded him to get help at a Christian drug rehabilitation centre in Cape Town.

In Cape Town he had doubts about going into the rehab programme but had a change of heart after he turned on the car radio to what he thought was a secular station and heard a gospel song that spoke to him. The song was ‘It wasn’t easy but it was worth it’ by Cece Winans.

His mother had to pay R4 000 upfront to admit him in the programme. The team at the centre began to minister to him and he told them he wanted God in his life.

Salvation
“On that day, the 16th of March 2011, I accepted Christ into my life. That is the day that I received my salvation. You know God has been so good to me. While in rehab I was delivered from years of drugs and smoking and alcohol addiction without any withdrawal symptoms.”

During his six months stay in the centre he said God spoke to him saying he needed to go back to Port Elizabeth where people knew him and his sporting history, and where he should try to get people out of their involvement with drugs.

He managed to get a job in Port Elizabeth and joined a cricket club where he earned the ‘batsman of the year’ award.  God had healed his leg and he developed a love for cricket again but no longer desired to become a professional cricketer.

A year later, prompted by God he quit his job to make more time to accept invitations to share his testimony at schools. MEC Christian Martin provided him with office space for counselling young people battling with drugs.

Through God’s grace and righteousness, he says doors have opened for him to reach out to many young people.

He has been appointed as coach for the Gelvandale Centre of Excellence, a project of the Eastern Province Cricket Development Programme, where he coaches cricket and ministers to youngsters through his life story.

Together with his Canadian fiancé La Derrah he established A Fighting Chance (AFC), which tackles drugs, gangs and human trafficking issues through a range of community interventions. The two are also part of a group of people which founded the Nelson Mandela Bay Justice Coalition, which deals with human trafficking.

Incredibly, AFC recently received its Non Profit Organisation number just a week after applying.

“That is God!” said Telling of their great bureaucratic favour. “It is confirmation to us that we are doing what God wants us to do. He is opening up doors that no man can shut and God deserves all the honour and all the glory for what is happening.”

Drugs crisis at schools
Telling says the drug scene at schools in the Northern Areas is critical. During one two weeks period one school referred 20 children to him for drug counselling. He investigated and found that learners were selling drugs at school, including dagga laced with tik to make it more addictive. He said he also found that Christian societies were weak or non-existent at many schools and so he has taken steps to re-establish Christian groups at schools.

One of AFC’s short term goals is to establish an affordable drug rehabilitation centre somewhere outside of the city.

“I was fortunate going to rehab in Cape Town. But most of the kids here could not afford the cost of rehab,” he said.

He is excited about an innovative programme that AFC is launching at two Northern Areas schools next term. The schools have agreed to stop suspending learners for drug offences and instead to refer them to a lifeskills programme that will be run by AFC at the schools. Suspending children puts them on the streets where they are at greater risk, he said.  Teaching them lifeskills offers them a chance.

He is also fired up by a partnership between AFC and like-minded Christian group, Truth Squad, in which they host ‘block parties’ in Northern Areas parks using music and dance to attract young people. Five hundred young people came to the last ‘block party’ in a Gelvandale park.

“At the end of the evening people shared testimonies and we saw young and older boys and girls crying and committing their lives to Christ,” he said.

He said gangsters have made parks unsafe for children. “But we are claiming the parks back for the Kingdom. We are taking it [the area] back, street by street, park by park, block by block for Christ.”

32 Comments

  1. If only society had more Reeze Tellings. I knew Reeze when he was still hooked but still testified the Lord’s work. Well done and God bless.Gracious God and loving Father, thank you for sending Jesus to save Reeze when he wasn’t worthy of his sacrifice. Thank you for doing what I could not do. I praise and thank you. Amen.

  2. Thank God for a place like Teen Challenge. Bless you brother

  3. To God be the glory. May God bless u as u do His work Reeze and La.

  4. Reeze you are really amazing, God is using you mightily my friend! Stay as blessed as you are and keep doing God’s work!

  5. Great news! This is a powerful testimony of God’s amazing grace! God bless you two in the ministry that you are exercising among a really needy people! I thank God for folks like you!

  6. I am so proud of you Reece. Reading this article brings tears to my eyes, i never knew all this. May God Almighty bless you always…boeta

  7. All honour & glory to God _
    All the best Reeze, so proud of you.

  8. So encouraging to hear how God is using you Reeze and La! Sending prayers from Canada for God’s continued blessings, protection, and effectiveness against evil.

  9. Wow this testimony made me cry, because I’ve been like this and God also changed my life. Thank you Jesus we love you

  10. I have a son who is backslidden & who is also addicted to drugs. He has really lost his way. I am always encouraged when I hear testimonies of young men who have turned to God & are now delivered and serving God. I know only God can deliver my son and restore his life. Hopefully he will be able to tell his story also one day. Pray for him Marvin Horswell. Thanks Dolores

  11. Amen Dolores, there is hope and when there is hope the is love. GOD CAN. THANK U LORD FOR MARVIN HORSWELL I PRAY THAT HE IS DELIVERED IN JESUS NAME. WHO THE SON SET FREE IS FREE INDEED.

  12. Thank you everyone for all the encouraging messages. To God all the glory and honor. It just motivates me more.

  13. Keep on fightin the good fight Reeze, really blessed by your testimony! Christ has already won the battle…Luke 10:19. I declare Gods favor and the heavens opened ova ur life and ministry in Jesus Name!!

    • I receive it in Jesus name. Thank you so much appreciate it

      • I know where you have been and know where you are now and all that I can say is god has blessed you and keep it up and remember the devil did not want you and threw you out and you went back to god where you belong forever
        Love Fred

  14. Reeze.I only want to thank you for reaching out to our troubled youth in the Northern Areas.Thanks to you and your team always willing to assist at any of the events of the Health Department. You are only continuing what your Gran set out to do for so many years through the love of GOD.. Mariandah

  15. Reeze ur testimony made me cry, cos I knw u 4 a long tym. God is the greatest of all I’m very proud of u keep it up.

  16. That is very encouraging Reeze. It probably wasn’t easy to go through everything, but seems totally worth it now! Best wishes to your ministry.

  17. Well done to you my brother…extremely proud of you! Keep it up…

  18. God bless you Reeze as you continue to do his work. Your story truly touched me.

  19. This is such an encouragement…Keep up your good work…God CAN work miracles!!! Amen & Amen, to God be the Glory. Stay Blessed

  20. Wow Reeze, i never knew this side… How amazing God is… You have such a bright future with Jesus at the centre…

  21. Tears fell as i read this Reece God love you so much thru his grace you are his son today your life story is heartsore bt so true if every 1 can do what u did to change praise be to God stay by his feet

  22. Hi Reeze. Through your trials and tribulations, God is using you to win souls and help those who are fighting the battle against principalities and powers. My husband was in prison for 7 years and God used that time to not only preserve his life, but bring him closer to God. Like you, he is sharing his testimony. It is through each person’s testimony that we draw people back to God and I commend you on the good work you are doing in PE. May God’s glory and favour continue to be upon you.

  23. Hi Reeze….God works in wonderful ways…training you through your life in sport and on drugs…in order to reach out to those who are now in the situation you were in. Use it my brother, and keep at it…it’s GOD Who does the real work – so lean hard on him and He will accomplish His purposes through you!

  24. Extremely proud of you Reeze, inspirational indeed. We need men {soldiers 4 Christ} to take back our streets. Awesome is our God!!

  25. Hi Reeze, Man of God. I am honoured to have known you. You are doing a great job using your testimony to do God’s work. I am proud of what you are doing. Everything happens for a reason, God knows why you had to go through all you have been through. I am so thankful to God for saving your life so that you can save others.

    I pray God’s favor, grace, mercy, blessings and protection over you and your wife. May He continue to use you mightily to do His work.

    To God all the glory, all the honor and all the praise.

    Be blessed my brother and sister in Christ Jesus.

  26. Robin Pesencie

    H,Reez first time I hear about your story but I give God the honour for using your brokenness to His glory.You are like an olive that went through the olive press and now we enjoy the oil(anointing)that flows from your life !

  27. My daughter is an addict. She just turned 31. I don’t know who or where to turn to.