Christian, Minister, Woman, Wife, and Mother. The core of these monikers always remains with me, clear and precise in my mind. My identity on a DNA level, so to speak. My name is Azelda Joubert, and I am getting a low-cost college degree at the Christian Leaders Institute . I am a born again Christian, ordained minister, and live with my husband and three children in Johannesburg’s northern suburbs in South Africa.
In many ways, and by many definitions of the word, I have lived a “charmed” life. I grew up in poverty but was noticed as early as in grade school for my sharp mind, creativity, eloquence, and drive. This remained a defining characteristic of my school years. I was recognized for many achievements, most considered extraordinary due to or despite my family’s financial hardship, spiritual bankruptcy, and moral ambiguity.
A woman I loved very dearly and, to this day, she influences me though only in memory. She once told me that we choose how we define the things that happen to us and through us in life. She told me the following:
For some people, a pot of burned potatoes is just that, burned potatoes. To be laughed at and to try again. They see no hardship or tragedy, just the reality of a failed pot of mashed potatoes. They try again and move on.
For others, a pot of burned potatoes is a tragedy that has the potential to derail their world with regret, reproach, and recriminations. These are the people who allow life to overtake them with the inertia of insignificant details, often stuck with a pot of potatoes beyond use.
The third group sees every tragedy in life as burnt potatoes, never understanding consequence, accountability, or impact. They treat their own participation in or cause heartache and tragedy as nothing more than others would a pot of burned potatoes.
Her adamant demand of me? See your life for what it is, learn your lessons, grow when you can, and always remember to check the potatoes!
Why do I tell this story? Because the next part of my story is hard to tell. I do not share my early childhood’s hurt as it has no value beyond the lessons it taught and the empathy I am gifted with.
In my early teenage years, my faith in God, tiny as it was at the time, was harmed by the callous unthinking words of a minister. I had no grounding in faith or biblical literacy to refute his statement. So, I decided to turn my back on the Christian faith. I could not serve or believe in a God capable of cruelty. So, I carried someone else’s pot of burned potatoes as my personal tragedy for more than a decade.
I turned to a modern form of paganism, Wicca, as a solitary Wiccan practitioner. I soon caught the attention of a coven and moved through the ranks rapidly to the office of a high priestess. Again, I believed my life to be quite literally “charmed.” It was a time in which I gradually became intimately familiar with the darkness, the trappings of sin, and the fear that resides in the abject absence of God in one’s life.
The details serve no purpose in my testimony other than to demonstrate the enormity of God’s Grace. Often, one act of defiance or sin leads you down a path that grows in darkness and regrets. It seems almost impossible to turn around and seek the light your soul so desperately needs. My new “charmed life” had me proclaiming my spiritual tragedy as nothing but burned potatoes masquerading as the uninformed opinion of others.
In 2003, I was pregnant with my daughter. By this time, the religious practices of my pagan faith had me fearful and stressed. Therefore, I believed the only way this precious baby would be safe was for me to denounce all belief and to go through life alone. Ironically, I was too afraid to stay home alone on Sunday mornings. So, I tagged along with my parents as they attended a local church. It was in this church that the Love of Christ confronted me! It came through scripture and testimony, and mostly, an outpouring of love by Christ’s body. By the time my daughter was born in early 2004, I was a believer though not yet saved.
The church I attended participated in an Easter Camp that year. It was during this camp, in a humble prayer room without much in the way of comforts or furnishings, I came to know Christ – not only as God but as my Savior. I surrendered my life with all its ugliness and beauty, all the sin and goodness, to the One who died for my sin, conquered death, and reigns with the Father for all eternity.
With this salvation, this miracle of forgiveness, I also received my calling: Preach the Word!
2 Timothy 4:1-5: I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears, they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
In 2005, I enrolled at Theological College and started the most remarkable journey of my life. I met my husband, a Godly man with a solid Christian faith. I married him, had two more children (boys), and completed my National Diploma in Theology. Then, I did my practical training in a local church with an excellent mentor. In January 2011, I received my ordination.
Remembering that I have a calling, I continued my corporate management career. I still served where I could, learning and growing in Christ. I served as a youth pastor, assistant pastor, private school principal, and guest teacher for undergrad students during my bi-vocational ministry years and am grateful for each experience.
Purpose Through a Promise In 2009
The Greatest Commandment for us was Deuteronomy 6:1-12. Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.
You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. Bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and your gates.” (Deut. 6:4-9)
We have taught our children the ways of God, loved God above all else, and witnessed this in our everyday life through words and actions and behavior. In our 15 years of marriage, we have faced many storms and mountains. It has been an amazing journey of growth, discovery, and divine provision from God to fulfill his remarkable promise to us. We have made some mistakes along the way, but always the grace of God has been sufficient for us. We endure, grow closer to each other and God, raise a family, and serve where we can. Today by Grace, I see burned potatoes simply as burnt potatoes.
Study at CLI and a Low-Cost College Degree at CLI
Three years ago, when full-time ministry seemed far out of my reach, and financial demands kept both my husband and me working full time far from home, I was diagnosed with FMS. It forced me to become a stay-at-home mother for the first time in our married life. We decided to find the God-centric purpose of this also. I started home-schooling our children. We went from a double income family to a single income family almost overnight. This change had real implications. Now I had the time, but not the means, to complete my studies, realize my calling, and complete the task so keenly placed on my heart. Once more, without a low-cost college degree option, my study was on hold. My dream of impacting the spiritual health and growth of the body of Christ, in truth, had to wait for another season.
Three years of prayers and faith have now placed this dream within reach. I have the possibility to complete my studies through the generous and inclusive opportunity of the Christian Leaders Institute. A low-cost college degree at the Christian Leaders Institute is perfect. I will not only grow in readiness and preparedness but also fulfill my calling.
Doctrinally sound apologetic teaching is the church’s armor against heresy, apostasy, and false teachers. My life and my salvation stand as proof that the word of God does not return upon itself empty. My calling demands that I reproduce and teach this to a world lost and broken.
“Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little loves little.” Luke 7:47
nterested in a low-cost college degree? Check out the Christian Leaders Institute.