Barrier Breaker of the Month of October 2020
The Barrier Breaker of the month of October Is….
Athenkosi Princess Selani who is originally from South Africa but currently resides in America.
Jois: Chillllllleeeeeeeeeee welcome to the Barrier Breakers Corner. I created this platform just so that when people hear others’ stories they will be like OMG, this person did that, I can do it too, and whatever country they are in, whether young or old they will be encouraged and blessed.
Athenkosi: Chillllllllllllleeeeeeeeee thank you for having me. (we met through Woman Evolve, that’s why the Chillllleeeee)
Jois: You’re welcome. Tell us a little bit about yourself
Athenkosi: I am a South African and a media graduate majoring in marketing. My purpose is to serve others whatever way that may be or look like. It’s definitely just serving whatever way the Lord leads me. I am also the founder of a Non Profit Organization (NPO) ‘Fellowship Matthew 18v20’, well co founder with the Lord being the other co-founder because without Him I can’t do it. It’s a youth organization and when I say youth it does not necessarily mean the specific types of ages but if you feel young, you are part of the youth. My heart is very big and basically serving is what we do through the NPO, and I’m also on a journey of finding myself in the Lord but the one thing that He echoed and put out there was making me serve His people. I don’t know what it’s gonna look like but it differs from season to season. I spent a couple of years in Corporate and after that I was like “I can’t anymore” then the Lord led me in the area of serving. And that’s definitely who I am in a nutshell.
Jois: That’s great. Can you tell us the reason why you started the NPO ‘Fellowship Matthew 18v20’ .
Matthew 18:20 – “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, I am there among them”.
Athenkosi: It was God’s doing. I’ve always wanted to have a non-profit because growing up it’s something I have been doing without even having an idea about it at that time. My step Dad works for the South African National Defence Force so every Saturday when he comes home he comes with a lot of food and he would share it amongst my grandmother and aunts and we would still have lots of food left. Every weekend around 10am, children would pass by our house, some would be in need and others wouldn’t but I would always want to be the one to give out because the food was a lot. I was 15 at that time. The Lord was also saying “I know a non-profit organization is something I am putting in your heart, but I want to be a major part of it, I want to be at the center of it all”. So this NPO is a ministry of God’s work and we believe in the Lord’s principle of going out there and looking at life and echoing who God is and what He can do. The motivation behind it was definitely with me just being lost in the world for the longest time. It’s one thing to have help and not get the help that you need and people taking advantage especially when you’re seeking for the Lord and people see your vulnerability. That happened quite a lot and with this motivation the Lord said “Athenkosi, I need you to do something like this” and I was like WHAT! I also had multiple confirmations and He just showed up by himself and formed this.
The motivation is to allow people to know that at Fellowship Matthew 18v20, God is the same to everyone and He knows each and everything that is happening to us and around us. He said come as you are. The NPO is not a place where we judge, we might hate your sin but we don’t hate you. It’s a place where you can come and understand that the Lord looks at us the same, come broken in whatever way, however you may feel. It’s a place where no sin is larger than the other. It is a platform for you to breathe and remind yourself that it is okay, you will get through this.
How can we help you, how can we serve you in what you are going through? Do you need a job, how can we help you in applying for a job, how can we help you with your resume? There is no electricity at home, how can we help you? We do have some plans, it may not be electricity that will last you for the whole month but maybe we can help with an amount of money that will sponsor you with electricity for a week, it’s definitely a helping hand in the community, just reaching out and just letting the Lord work through us because the Lord placed us here to serve each other in whatever way we can because like I said it changes from season to season.
It’s just a platform to say as broken as you are, as hurt as you are, as sad as you are, as addicted as you are, whatever the case may be, here at Fellowship Matthew 18v20 we say come as you are. It’s ok, if you’re broken or hurt, it’s ok baby girl, it’s ok baby boy, we’ve been through that we know how you feel we just wanna help you. How can we help you, how can the Lord help you and just definitely try and help you find your identity in Christ and that’s the biggest place someone could have, having a revelation of who they are.
Jois: I love that. And we are the hands and feet of Jesus so wherever we go we represent Him e.g. feeding the needy, being of help and that is really a great thing, helping people with their resumes and helping in the community, that’s really awesome. It’s not just about reading the bible, praying and fasting but also being there for people.
Now on Thursdays 1pm EST, 7pm (GMT+2) and 8pm (GMT+3) through zoom. Just follow Fellowship Matthew 18:20 on IG at fellowship_za to get all necessary information
Athenkosi: Yes you basically nailed it because Fellowship Matthew 18v20 is a space where our actions are more God-like than our words because actions are powerful, you know faith without action is nothing. So if people could just see the way everyone at fellowship loves, the way they embrace, the way they are, that is enough to change someone. This is what the Lord wants us to do, it’s all His doing, He is the one planting all these things in our hearts, he is the one creating the provision for us to go to the communities and help. Fellowship Matthew 18v20 is just serving, motivating and just allowing you to come as you are until you figure it out, it’s a place we want the Lord to work through us so He can reveal himself to you to experience Him because God is all about experience.
This motivation was from me also being lost in the world and just wanting help and being in the wrong hands of help and also being misled got me to read the bible for myself and understand God for myself, who is this person, I was very curious about Him. So once I was able to grasp and experience Him, I was like wow this is amazing, more people need to know about this Man because I could experience Him and if I could have an experience, you can too. It definitely allows others to experience God on a daily basis and experience His work and just join Him in His activity and ask the Lord to actually reveal who they are and what they are meant to be in this world.
Jois: So how did you get to that point where being in the Lord was worth more than being lost in the world.
Athenkosi: That actually happened in the shower (laughs). I had come back from a friend’s birthday and I remember someone invited us to chill at their house, obviously there were drinks and I was like it’s a perfect time to celebrate her birthday. I remember we had a drink but the drink was not sinking in and I got rid of it and got myself some water and drank it the whole time. They didn’t know I was drinking water, they thought it was still alcohol. That was the time the Lord was just speaking to me literally in front of people because there were so many things that happened prior and I remember just sitting there at some point as I was interacting with the people cause I talk a lot (laughs). I was sitting in the kitchen and the Lord just echoed to me and said “what are you doing with your life, there is more to you than this, how long will you be doing this” and for me at first I thought that’s not the Lord and I told my friend let’s just go because I was planning on leaving at 2am but this was around 11pm and I was like “girl we need to go” and she said no let’s stay and we did and the Lord was just talking to me and then I went to the bathroom and I was like “Lord what is going on” and He kept ministering to me.
I got back home, took a shower and it was in the shower that everything came back to me. The Lord kept ministering to me showing me how much being in the world had damaged me to an extent, He was making me reflect and telling me that He can be more to me than this, I don’t want this for you, you haven’t been drinking for the right reasons at all and to be honest I was running away from my purpose and ministry that’s definitely something I can put out there to a point where I would be drunk and be preaching, can you believe that?
Jois: I remember you saying that and I was shocked about that. That’s when you know that it was God’s plan all along. In the midst of your drinking and being drunk, you started preaching and I’m like how is that possible.
Athenkosi: Yea, how is that possible, to a point where I would literally preach and open my bible and let people know about God. To me I never knew until the next day obviously when I was sober and my friends would tell me “did you know when you were drunk you were preaching to us about God” and I was like really! During the process of me being disobedient to Him I was still active in the word, I still had a relationship with Him but not compared to what it is now. During the time I was still in the world, I would still pray in secret, At that time I wasn’t out there, God was like my secret lover, He was still ministering to me but I was still being disobedient. I just didn’t believe what He was telling me at that time. How would it be possible that I could be whatever you’re telling me when I was not living right. So it was definitely in the shower when I was broken and had so many questions, like “God I thought you’ve forgotten about me, what’s going on”, that He spoke to me softly and gently to the point I went to the bathroom and just prayed and went back home. My life was a radical transformation, when I talk about someone having a change in their life in one day, that was me. He stripped me off from alcohol within a day, not even a day but within hours. In the past God would convict me of my alcohol drinking, I would stop for about six months and drink again and he would convict me about it again and I’d be like “ok God I want to be obedient to you” but I would do it again for like a few months. And He convicted me specifically with alcohol because I was a different and toxic person when intoxicated.
Jois: Right it happens to me too (not with drinking though) when you ask God to forgive you in one area and after a couple of months you’re back at it again.
Athenkosi: This time around He said “this is the point in time for you now, it needs to happen now, Athenkosi I need you now and there is no other way”. He stripped me off to a point I did not believe it
Athenkosi: I remember trying to drink; this was me being disobedient.
Jois: You were just trying to test yourself to see if this is for real
Athenkosi: You knowwwwww! I took that drink Jois and I was just like no way, this tastes disgusting and I became as sick as a dog. And I’m thinking how is this even possible? I was the queen of drinking, like really God?
Jois: Lol, can you imagine?
Athenkosi: I was like I don’t want this. Then I remember Him saying “I told you”. There was something about it this time around and I was like no way meinnnnnn.
Jois: And you are a preacher’s kid right.
Athenkosi: Yea I am a preacher’s kid.
Us during Fellowship on Zoom
Jois: It just makes me know that we are all human, I am a preacher’s kid too. We are all human beings and we go through phases, we are not sitting next to Jesus neither are our parents next to Jesus that makes us holier than thou. NO! It’s only through God that we are holy. We can’t compare ourselves with other people but one thing I know is that everyone has their own route that God takes them through whether you are a PK or you are a president’s kid or whoever. You have to go through life to become who God wants you to be. There are certain things we didn’t have to go through to be where God wants us to be but disobedience led us through that part.
Would you say that it’s because of the way you were treated at church or because of the way you saw people live their lives as Christians in the church that made you feel like “why am I coming to church, why don’t i just go out in the world”. Would you say that was one of the reasons why you took that route?
Athenkosi: No. My mum and step dad, who is my dad, I am very close to him; they lived the christian life, they don’t drink or do anything as such. My late grandfather was part of the Methodist church, he was one of the leaders in the church as well as my grandmother and great grandmother. They all loved the word and God. When they gave their lives to Christ, they lived ‘the Christ-like life’. They were serving, loving etc. So it was not the people around me, I don’t know what phase I was going through, I really don’t know because the only way I have been deceived in church was in a new church during tertiary years, people saying things and God revealing to me that their ways weren’t true, but the other churches I have been to and all the friends I made have always lived a ‘Christ-like life’ or at least that’s what I think. They used to portray Christ through the way they treated me and the way they lived.
I was rather the one who deceived people who wanted to be Christians, I was the pastor’s kid, and I’m gonna be real here, People knew me as a pastor’s kid, obviously because I come from a small town in Western Cape in South Africa called Oudtshoorn; everyone knew I was a pastor’s kid. I honestly used to be the one who deceived the church as a pastor’s kid because I would post scriptures, and caption every Sunday picture with something holy when I wasn’t doing that at all. Actually, there was a high chance I went to church tipsy at times. Now I don’t know what people said but I’m sure they were not convinced about my Christian journey because I wasn’t living it like I should have. My actions in the past definitely deceived others, that I’m sure off. I’m not proud of it but that’s my truth and I know so much better now.
Jois: I appreciate you for saying that because sometimes we blame other people but what if you are the one turning people away from God, what if you’re the one doing the bad stuff.
Thank you for actually bringing that out. The reason why I asked that question is because sometimes we go to church even as a preacher’s kid, I have been to church and been disappointed by people coming to church claiming to be a Christian but then living a life that is not in Christ, taking advantage of you, doing things that are way off, even I am a culprit but I don’t think I have done things that would turn people away. If anything, I have done it personally in the dark and not out there. Others have gone to church where they’ve been hurt by the church and have had to turn their backs and decided not to come to church because of the way other people treated them.
Jois: How did your parents feel when you were living that kind of life?
Athenkosi: Obviously just like any parent, they definitely reprimanded me. There’s something about one sin that births another sin, sins like lying would come up cause I obviously can’t tell them that I am going to a party and am going to drink. They will definitely say NO! So one sin birthed another. I remember this one time walking into my parents house with my friend, drunk and high. My dad had some pastors at home and this was my first time ever getting high and I didn’t know how to react, I was jacked out, out of my mind. Our house was very small so when you went to the bathroom you could see everything in the lounge. I had to greet the Pastors by handshake. I was so drunk, my mum was in the kitchen making fat cakes and she looked at me and could not react because our house was very small, it was a two bedroom house. I went to the bathroom with my friend giggling but when we came out, my parents did reprimand me. I used to get beaten up whenever I got home late. I had curfew and was able to work round that curfew because as I said one sin birthed many other sins, sins of sneaking out and lying, manipulating, etc.
Jois: It is so automatic (lying), you don’t have to think of what to say or how to say it.
Athenkosi: Yeaaaaa, it was normal for me, lying about sleeping over at my friends house while going to a party. The thing is God gave my parents eyes to know what was happening, I actually believe and know that they knew about me coming to church drunk at times and just questioning a whole lot of things. When I had these questions about the church and who God is and about science etc, my parents tried to answer me the best possible way they could but they would also tell me here is the bible, we’ve got you an English bible and then tell me to read it for myself. I also know it was their prayers that kept them grounded and me being who I am today. My dad works at the South African National Defence Force meaning he’s very strict, he’s all about discipline but during that phase I was in, that strictness got shifted away and I think it was also just the Lord saying…
Jois: That’s not the way to go about it
Athenkosi: Yea, it’s not the way to go about it, so I definitely do think it was their prayers that covered me. When I left for University I decided to go to Johannesburg which is about 1500 kilometers away from my hometown. I just wanted to be far from home.
Jois: How many hours is that?
Athenkosi: That’s about 12hours drive away. I wanted to be far from everyone so that I can continue living my life, I was tired of going to church everyday. Before I left, my parents said “you know that Johannesburg is a city”. Johannesburg is like our New York basically and they were like we trust you, look after yourself, then said a prayer and gave me the same bible they got me that I would never read and my dad had actually made notes in the bible and highlighted a few scriptures but I never got to know that because I never read my bible. This just showed how faithful they were that I will definitely recover from whatever it is that I was going through and also the Lord had ministered to them that “you see her doing this now I am not done with her yet”. He gave me a bible even though he knew I was not going to read it.
Jois: He had faith
Athenkosi: Yea and God had probably ministered to him that she is going to come around, it’s me testing your faith in me.
Jois: Yea, it reminds me of the scripture that says the prayers of the righteous availeth much, There’s gonna be answered prayers just keep pushing in prayer.
Jois: That’s awesome. What advice will you give to people that are feeling lost in the world and feel like there is no hope for them?
Athenkosi: I’ll definitely ask them to seek the Lord, don’t worry about what you are addicted to right now or about the hurt of any rape or whatever is hurting you or whatever it could be in your past that is holding you back from getting to the Lord, Just focus on the Lord. A lot of people worry about the fact that they are not good enough, they probably think that God wants them to be a saint but what I want to say is that they should come as they are. When you’re drunk and you feel led to pray, pray drunk as you are, if you’re seeking God everyday continue to do so, don’t worry about your sin but acknowledge that it’s wrong.
Worry about getting access to the Lord because that’s what happened with me, I knew what I was doing with my life was wrong and I’ve seen God move in my life and it was just me focusing on Him and slowly but surely He stripped me from each and everything that was unlike Him because everyday, I made a decision to follow Him. As I was walking with Him, having a private relationship with Him, He already convicted me about things, so what I can say is focus on the Lord, focus on experiencing Him and everything else will change. Once you have the Holy Spirit dwelling in you and dedicate your life to Him everything will change.
Make it an everyday thing where you say “I need you, I am broken”, whatever aspect it is, tell Him that “I am focusing on you”, make yourself vulnerable because the reality is that God is working in our lives each and every day. Every morning take about 15 minutes and just make time for the Lord, humble yourself in front of him, cry in front of Him, just ask Him to allow you to see Him. Seek a relationship with God, invite him over and over again. Inviting Him over is the greatest thing that you could ever do, slowly but surely he would start stripping you off things, he will start opening your eyes about the people in your life cause that’s what he technically did with me. So I am definitely going to put that out and say COME AS YOU ARE.
When He said that in the bible He was not going crazy, I thought He was but honestly seek him and everything else will follow and he talked about that in the book of Matthew and that’s literally what happened in my life, where I sought him and he convicted me of everything and that conviction was the Holy Spirit guiding me, showing me how to do things, who needs to go and who needs to stay and what you have to do now with your life etc. So basically come as you are and seek Him with the way you are, with that brokenness that you have, He wants that brokenness, He works best in our weakness, so come as you are, as weak as you are with the little faith that you have in Him, that’s it.
Jois: That’s very powerful, it just shows you that you don’t have to come to God perfect, just come to him as you are and then he will cleanse you and strip you apart from things that are not of him just as you’ve said. What lesson(s) have you learnt?
Athenkosi: There is a season to everything, He has definitely shown me that. Jois we may not understand why God put us together now, we will only understand after a couple of years or even months or weeks and then we will have a moment and we would understand much better, I believe that everything just happens for a season / lifetime and a specific reason.
You crying now is the Lord establishing you to wipe off the tears for the next person. When you find yourself in a situation and you are in tears, hurting, sad whatever the case may be, know that God will use you in those seasons to establish us in other people’s lives.
I don’t know what you are dealing with in general but be rest assured that the pain you are feeling, God is gonna establish you to help someone’s life by wiping off their tears from hitting the ground. That’s just what I will say, there is a season and reason for everything.
Jois: That’s very important, a season for everything. It’s like whatever you’re going through will make you learn lessons and then lead you to where God wants you to be and be able to help other people and don’t run away from the situation, just keep breaking barriers and pushing forward
Athenkosi: Embrace it, if you’re going to be in a season of just crying embrace that season, allow yourself to cry, don’t deprive yourself from that sadness, don’t deprive yourself from whatever is happening, whatever it may be, don’t deprive yourself, acknowledge those feelings, learn from them, ask God what it is, what is He trying to teach you etc. He does not just wake up and say ok I want to see her sad, NO! He does things for specific reasons. It’s because of the past during the hard times where you were actually sowing seeds of happiness that you are reaping now.
Jois: I listen to this song by William McDowell and it says “rain only matters for those who have seed in the ground”, so when the rain falls and you have seed in the ground, it’s definitely going to be harvested and so if you don’t have seed in the ground, what harvest are you going to reap.
Athenkosi: Yea, you know everything has its season and I just want to add that the steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord if you focus on Him. If every day you make a continuous decision to spend time with the Lord, every morning specifically and just say Lord I need you, you give Him praise and let Him in, He will definitely order your steps day by day, something I am seeing in my life. When He says don’t worry He really means that, so if everyday you could just seek His face, come as you are with the little faith that you have, focus on Him, he will order your steps and him ordering your steps will also allow Him to strip you away from people, from things and whatever else needs stripping. We may not understand it but you are doing the sowing that He asked you to do.
Jois: Thank you so much for taking time out, I really appreciate you for doing this and keep growing and keep being you. I pray that God will continue to prosper you and lead you the way you are supposed to go. I can’t believe that you’re this young and doing this.
Athenkosi: When I was 20 years I would tell my friends that I could die now because I’ve lived. One of the things that God has shown Himself was a time where I was almost raped and I remember going to the bathroom and said God if you’re real, you’re going to get me out of this situation. I remember the guy was knocking on the bathroom door. Keep in mind this guy was old and powerful as well but that day a friend of mine called me, this was in the AM actually and when the friend called me, it appeared as Dad on my phone. That was a phone call I saw God use to get me out of that situation in so many ways. The way it went, I told my friend I was coming home and this guy thought it was my dad because of the way I answered the phone and then he dropped me off.
Jois: The same guy that was knocking at the bathroom was the same one that dropped you off?
Athenkosi: Yes Yes, he dropped me off, the guy became calm I don’t know how but it was the grace of the Lord but Jois you know what was so funny, to show that it was the Lord’s hand, as soon as I opened the door and got off, he started calling me names like B****, and swearing at me
Jois: Are you kidding me?
Athenkosi: I was thinking like God what is this, why is it after he dropped me off that he reacted, where have you heard that?
Athenkosi: I realized that there was someone else fighting this battle for me. I was 20 years and I had done it all, I had literally experienced the most so I was like I could die anytime. I felt that the Lord can take me away at that age because I have literally done everything that you think people can do in society, I was like Lord you can get rid of me because in my head that was what life was about, I knew about the Christ-like life which is the original life that we are meant to live but I never paid attention to it or gave it my all. I think everything happens for a reason because I had to go through all of that at an early age so that he can use my better and most effective years for his glory.
Jois: No experience is wasted
Athenkosi: Oh yes, yes, yes
Jois: Thank you so much, I am really proud of you, keep being you.
Athenkosi: Oh thank you too for this opportunity, I really appreciate it, and I don’t take it lightly because I have been speaking to the Lord telling Him to make me sensitive to where He wants me to echo His glory, echo what He has done in my life. So when you asked me to have an interview with you I was just like Lord and He was like go child you know I have ordered your steps
Jois: Right, and this is a God moment. Thank you so much.
Athenkosi: I don’t take it for granted. Thank you so much, I honestly think what you are doing is amazing being a barrier beaker OMG breaking barriers. What society says is not basically what happens in your space or corner, that’s just what I get so am just really grateful for this opportunity. All the best girl, you are about to do things.
Jois: Thank you so much
Athenkosi: Have a good day
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