Breaking strongholds of alcohol abuse
Karoo farmworkers are being encouraged to overcome alcohol use by accepting Jesus Christ as their Saviour and being reconciled with God.
According to Duleigh Douman, of Nehemiah Ministries alcohol abuse is often so ingrained that is has become a cultural practice that leads to immoral, promiscuous and violent behaviour that alienates people from God. “As the prophets of old had to prepare the way for the first coming of Christ, so the Lord is calling a remnant to prepare the way for the second coming,” says Douman. “The purpose of Nehemiah Ministries is to raise the standard and reach the mark of God, which is righteousness leading to holiness. “Just like Nehemiah had the tenacity to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem in the midst of ridicule and opposition, so the Lord called us to rebuild and restore what has been torn down by moral decay and godlessness.”
Douman says one night, while praying; he asked the Lord where He wanted the ministry to go next. “That night I dreamed of a massive boardroom table on which a map opened and a finger pointed while a voice said, ‘You must go to the Karoo’.”
Hosea 6:1 calling
“God called us to minister Hosea 6:1 ‘Come, and let us return unto the LORD: for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up’.
“We need to live God’s culture and how He commanded us to live,” says Douman.
As the Lord would have it, about the time Nehemiah Ministries first started exploring the possibilities of ministering in the Karoo, Pieter and Noeline Vorster who farm at Conway, between Middelburg and Cradock, had been discussing with their Christian fellowship group, which consists of neighbouring farmers, the need for spiritual sustenance for their staff.
“We started the Conway Mission through which we invited missionaries and speakers to minister to our staff. One of the speakers introduced us to Nehemiah Ministries.
“We organised a get-together for all the surrounding farms at which Nehemiah Ministries ministered,” says Vorster.
Douman said while there were only about 10 people at the first meeting by the end of the week the venue was totally packed and two pastors thanked them for coming to the Karoo to minister among the farmworkers, which was the vision God had given him.
Vorser says Nehemiah Ministries have been so caring and loving towards the staff that they eagerly look forward to each of their visits. “They have done wonderful work among our people, the way they keep coming back and caring for us. They know most of our staff personally and we have seen significant changes among staff members. He mentions Hans and Mina Arries, an elderly couple, both addicted to alcohol, who had next to no possessions when first they were first employed. “We nearly had to fire them on a number of occasions, because of alcohol abuse. Yet, today, although they went through a relapse, they no longer drink alcohol and their lives have turned around completely. “Firstly, they attend church and have personal relationships with God. Secondly we have had to build onto their house to accommodate the furniture they have acquired. The quality of their lives has improved dramatically,” says Vorster.
Vorster shares that alcohol abuse is probably the biggest staff problem that farmers have in his area with over 90% of farmworkers being dismissed because of alcohol abuse. “The sad part about it is the people that are harmed are most often the ones that are closest and most loved by the people that are drunk. There have been many cases of husbands beating their wives and there have also been a number of murders. “However, the most severe problem is that children grow-up with such examples and repeat the pattern of their parents, which is the reason Nehemiah Ministries work is so important; to break the alcohol stronghold.”
Besides ministering on the farms Nehemiah Ministries takes the farmworkers out of their normal environment on a camp to Jeffries Bay to try and break new ground in the workers’ lives and their relationships with the Lord. “We get them out of their comfort zones and extend their boundaries by showing them there is a different life,” says Douman.
He says the Nehemiah Ministries team is very excited to work in the Karoo, because they can see change in people’s lives and they love the work that God is doing among His people. The team can see they are succeeding in breaking practices that had become the norm and a stronghold.
“In the last couple of years we have married 16 couples, which is a miracle, because so many young couples from the age of 14 upwards merely stay together – children having children.
“Now, people are not merely falling into the same cultural practices of their parents and those around them, but measuring their lives and choices by the plumb-line of God’s Word and His standard to which they are starting to adhere to.”
Douman says the tragedy of so many of the poor in the Karoo is that they merely follow a behaviour patter that has beomce a cultural habit and they don’t know any better. “This is where God is calling us to educate. When you are dealing with a stronghold it is necessary to break and change behaviour patterns, particularly among the youth, to set the stage for the next generation to see that they break the destructive patterns of the past.”
Vorster says the biggest drawback is the distance Nehemiah Ministries has to travel from Pretoria, which means they don’t visit the Karoo as often as farmers and farmworkers would like. Yet they do keep on coming back.
Much more to do
Today, Nehemiah Ministries is working with 18 farms in the Karoo. However, Douman believes there is still much ground to break.“We would like to have a base in the Karoo, for which we are trusting God. We would love to have a full-time worker and continuous presence in the area.”
Nehemiah Ministries works totally by faith. “We do not peddle God’s word for profit in any way. We don’t send out letters asking for money in any way. God has called us to a life of faith.
“We totally wait on God for all our needs. If people bless the ministry it is their prerogative, we do not ask for anything, nor borrow.
“We rely on God for all.”
Vorster says Nehemiah Ministries not only blesses the farmworkers with spiritual sustenance, but with material provisions too. “They seldom come without trailer-loads of clothing and every year just before Christmas they arrange a party for the farmworkers and their families during which every child receives a gift that consists of clothing and toys.
“The work of Nehemiah Ministries is a blessing to this community that we never even dreamed of,” says Vorster.
When visiting the Karoo Nehemiah Ministries also minister to the prison in Middelburg, the Emmanuel Child and Youth Care Centre, local schools and hostels.
Nehemiah Ministries’ calling is broader than farmworkers and includes reaching out to individuals, youth groups, schools, Christian organizations and churches by a range of methods, from discipleship and marriage seminars to prayer workshops and teaching Godly principles.
For more information contact: Duleigh Douman 072 085 2904 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org