As a nine-year-old growing up in Bloemfontein not too far off 50 years ago, Mariette Schlebusch was a happy little girl.
“A lot of us children would play together in the street — you could in those days without any security fears — and it was a lot of fun,” she now recalls. “I was from what I suppose you could say, an average Afrikaans family, with parents actively involved in church and I remember our family gathering around God’s Word every evening.
“We’d all go around to one another’s houses and play in the gardens as our mothers wanted to keep the insides of their houses tidy, until this one lady invited us into her house to teach us a game … as long as we didn’t laugh, because then we’d have to go back outside.
“We were pretty excited and she led us down the passage into a dark room where this man in a suit was lying on the floor with his eyes closed and his arms crossed.
“My seven-and-a-half-year-old sister was with me and she started to laugh as did some other children, and they had to go out. I was the youngest of the children remaining in the room.
”As the older children followed the lady’s directions without anything happening, I said to myself it will work when it is my turn — although none of us knew what was supposed to happen.”
Introduced to the world of the occult
Unknowingly, innocent little Mariette was being introduced to the world of the occult and the practice of levitation.
She followed the lady’s instructions and to her surprise the man lifted from the floor and hung in the air.
“I couldn’t believe what was happening,” she now recalls, “and the feeling of the power in me being able to do this was immense like I was bursting up through the roof.”
To cut a long story short that was Mariette’s introduction to the kingdom of darkness where she was to remain trapped for the next 11 years.
“That lady taught me a lot about the occult and although I didn’t realise it at the time I had become possessed. I had always been a good little child but as the years went by I became very naughty and rebellious.”
Once, when her young sister wouldn’t fetch her a colddrink she got so angry with her that she attacked her with a garden fork, although to this day she cannot remember anything about picking up the fork. When her father punished her severely as a result, she actually wanted to kill him. That’s how bad it became.
Although never part of a coven, she was taught by demons in her room at night after she accepted satan as her king.
In high school and then university, where she studied political science and communications, she was able to wield a great deal of power. She’d go to shopping centres, for instance, and place curses on everything that was for sale, but also on water and electricity going into houses. At the age of 20 she was able to transfer demons onto people with her eyes within seconds.
The power of Jesus’ love
Mariette’s story is a long, very involved one with much detail but in the third term of her third year of study she was standing in front of her university residence trying to transfer demons, but as this young man in front of her was covered with fire, she couldn’t break through.
Then she heard this soft, beautiful voice: “You are standing in front of the power of my Son’s love.”
God had intervened in her life and she was overwhelmed.
“For 11 years I believed the empty cross meant satan had conquered Jesus, but then I experienced this mighty force of grace and love much stronger than the power I had and I knew the message of the empty cross is, instead, the power of God.” (and Christ risen and alive!).
“All I felt was His love and I wept and wept and made a decision and promise to turn away from the darkness and into God’s wonderful kingdom of light.”
That was the start of Mariette’s remarkable Christian journey for the next 35 years up to the present day but it hasn’t always been easy.
“I got married and had three children one on top of the other in quick succession. My husband was working away from home and in May 1987 I had to have a hysterectomy. I was depressed and desperate, even wanting to take my own life. On the operating table I pleaded with God to let me die during the operation.
“When I woke up I was sorry I was still alive but then this incredible, incredible light entered the room — nothing to do with the drugs the doctors had given me — and this was the time that I was truly reborn, and baptised in fire and the Holy Spirit. God gave me the word in Matthew 10:39 (Whoever finds his or her life will lose it, and whoever loses his or her life for my sake will find it) and up to this day I am still on the journey to lay down my life for Christ to become more in me for the glory of God.”
So in a sense God did let Mariette ‘die’ on that day, die to things she didn’t need in her life.
Unstoppable in her witness for Jesus
So that’s what happened to Mariette up until that point. The Lord has since made a way for her to enter full-time ministry and today she is unstoppable in her witness and work for Jesus across South Africa and beyond the borders to countries like Tanzania.
Of great importance in her ministry is warning and helping parents to make sure their children are not allowed to play in the devil’s territory, which can be so subtle and seemingly innocent.
On an ongoing basis she works and counsels with rebellious children, drug addicts, people involved with the occult, gangsters, the poorest of the poor and the richest of the richest.
With the Lord’s guidance and power, her prayer is for people to be set free and enjoy the fruits of Christ’s life, as they no longer live, but Christ lives in them (Galatians 2:20).
“The Lord opens doors all the time, and I’m always waiting on Him making my way,” says Mariette who attends the Lewende Woord church in Bloemfontein where the head pastor Neville Goodchild is always happy to release her to travel southern Africa with missionary zeal to spread God’s word and bring hope.
She has written a book in Afrikaans, in which she chronicles her journey from the kingdom of darkness to God’s wonderful kingdom of light.
She says two of her children are worship leaders and the others are “actively involved in God’s kingdom to bring glory to His name”.
Health-wise, it hasn’t been at all easy for Mariette. Way back in 1992 she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, a debilitating disease she fights to this day.
“It’s been tough,” she admits, “and it often makes me weak. But by the power of the Lord I will not be stopped; I’m living in victory.
“So I am well pleased with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, and with difficulties, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak [in human strength], then I am strong [truly able, truly powerful, truly drawing from God’s strength] — 2 Corinthians 12:10 (AMP).”
Mariette Schlebusch can be contacted for ministry purposed by calling Lewende Woord Church in Bloemfontein on +27 51 451 9999.