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A Tale of Two Druggies

Towards the end of the 90’s, an ocean apart, two men were living lives ruled by addiction. Both men were headed on a steady path to destruction and premature death.

Peter and Diana Huyser
on honeymoon

But God had a different plan. A plan for these two men to meet, against all odds, so they could live a life that would glorify God, helping addicts find freedom from slavery to addiction, through the love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ at a place called Manumission.

In late 2008, in Cape Town, South Africa, Shaun was a drug dealer selling Tik (also known as methamphetamine), to addicts and dealers in the ghettos of Cape Town. This seems difficult to believe. He had been a businessman living a comfortable life with his family in one of Cape Town’s wealthiest suburbs. At the age of thirty-two he picked up his first drug, and so the downward spiral began.

Shaun’s partner in crime had recently been arrested for the murder of a notorious hit man and the gangs were after the business. One Friday afternoon four armed men burst into his flat with the intention of killing him. He escaped by jumping out of the window and never went back.

“Soon I ended up living under a tree. Amazingly, I did not think I had a problem,” he said.

By the grace of God, he ended up going to a Narcotics Anonymous meeting and read a sign that said “There is no chemical solution to a spiritual problem.” The next day, for the first time in years, Shaun prayed.

“God spoke to me. He asked me to go and confess my sins to a former employee of mine. This was a very difficult thing to do, but I was desperate, so I did it. Within minutes God had answered my prayers and I was on the road to freedom.”

This road led Shaun to a discipleship program where he was greatly helped and mentored by an older Christian brother. During this time Shaun had a dream in which God told him to create a community for former addicts where they could recover and grow so they could be free from slavery to addiction and live a life that glorifies God.

“I knew this would be impossible for me to do – I had no training or qualifications, I was only eight months clean and I had no financial resources. Still, I started working out all the details and the requirements. I knew it would take a lot, but I was convinced that this was my calling. I prayed daily only for a knowledge of God’s will and the power to carry it out.”

Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, in Orlando, Florida, Pete was heading for disaster. Pete had a Christian upbringing, but after his family left Cape Town for the USA, his family was torn apart through the schemes of the devil. Pete rebelled and started using drugs at an early age and progressively sank deeper and deeper into a life of drug abuse, drug dealing and crime. After a string of criminal acts at the age of 19 Pete was arrested and found himself in the county jail facing a life sentence for committing 21 felony offences including armed home invasion, assault with a firearm, false imprisonment and grand theft. Pete was in a lot of trouble and had no idea what to do. So he did what most people do when they are in trouble, he cried out to God trying to get what he wanted, but wanting God to help him without a true repentance. Pete wasn’t broken yet. As a result of his crimes Pete was sentenced to 13 years in State Prison.

As soon as Pete got to prison he went right back to his old ways and forgot all about God again. He continued to use and was soon running the drug distribution and gambling in his prison. These activities led to him spending nearly 7 of his 13 years in solitary confinement!

During this time Pete realized that his life was in a mess. In his hour of desperation he turned to God; this time with a truly broken heart and with real sincerity.

He said, “I decided, ok, I’m tired. I’m tired of being sick and tired. I’m tired of being worn out all the time. I’m tired of looking over my shoulder. I’m tired of hurting people, tired of hurting myself, and I’m tired of hurting God. I came to true repentance and I asked the Lord to save me.”

A miraculous change overcame Pete, and in spite of his circumstance he found what he had always been looking for.

“I’d never been happy on the street. I’d never found fulfillment on the street. Now I was in prison and I felt fulfillment. I felt joy. I felt peace and I felt contentment. God was at work in my life,” he went on to say.

Manumission staff: Front Peter and Diana Huyser. Back: Sean Shelley and Darryl Joubert

Pete now spent his time in prison studying the word of God and trying to educate himself as much as possible. Incredibly, while in prison, his mom introduced a lovely lady involved in mission work to Pete through correspondence. God started creating a bond between Pete and Diana. A beautiful courtship developed as two people followed a path that God had set them on.

On the 25th of April, 2010, 21 days after Pete was released from prison and deported back to South Africa, they were married.

Around this time Shaun decided to visit the farm where he had been discipled. The owner, Darryl, casually asked him if he had any ideas for the farm. Shaun presented his vision and in June 2010 Manumission was launched at Romeca Ranch, just outside Stanford, Cape Province.

Pete and Diana were on honeymoon in Gansbaai, a South African fishing village and popular tourist destination, and were invited to attend the local English church. During the service the pastor shared what was happening on the farm with the establishment of Manumission. Pete and Diana knew that this was what God had brought them to Gansbaai to get involved in.

“God laid a burden on my heart for other people I could relate to.”

An arrangement was made for Shaun and Pete to meet at the next service.

Shaun describes how he knew that God had led Pete to Manumission: “As I arrived at the church service, I laid a fleece before the Lord and asked him that if Pete was to be involved in Manumission, within the next 24 hours Pete would share one of three scriptures that had confirmed the Manumission vision to me – one of those being Psalm 107. I just smiled and thanked God when Pete interrupted the service to share Psalm 107 with us!”

God has blessed the ministry at Manumission. Their aim is to free addicts from slavery to addiction so they can live a life that glorifies God. They offer the Biblical teaching, training, counseling, skills development and the love and support of a community and fellowship to those who are desperate to be free of their addictions.

God has brought two unlikely candidates together to fulfill His purpose for their lives; to the glory of God. In spite of their best efforts Pete and Shaun are exactly where they’re meant to be!

As Pete says: “By the grace of God, I have the gift of happiness, joy, contentment and peace and I can show you how I got that. I can live by example and I can share with you the gift of God.”

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