She was known as a prayer-warrior and a woman of God, until that night. As she came back during midnight from hustling and exhausted from serving at church, Thabisile, a mother of three got the shock of her life next to her shack. She stood there looking at burnt ashes of her shack, while tears were dancing on her black cheeks. She froze in shock. Then she finally knelt on the ground, the plastic bag of vegetables she had been carrying fell to the ground, creating a little dust.

‎When she sniffed through the air, she smelled burned roasted chicken and she thought…my children are no more. She burst into tears with a loud cry and began crying out loud. Both her children and shack were part of the grilled chicken smell. She crawled to the remaining ashes to find proof. But she found nothing. A small object that looked like a candle took everything she had, and changed her life forever. Reality woke her up when one of her neighbours tapped her on the shoulders and told her that everything was going to be OK. She then saw that her children were really gone.

Days passed and Thabisile moved on with her life, mourning for her children. But that was not her only problem. Her biggest one was people’s judgments of her. When she went to church she would find that people were talking about her saying how could she choose church over her children? She was a murderer and that she was going to rot in hell and that church was not a place for people like her.

Even when she went to the shop, people would mock her, blame her for the deaths of her children and tell her how useless a mother she was. They did not know what they were actually destroying her on the inside. One day, she made the decision of leaving the slum to the live on the streets – she packed her stuff and left.

She found a corner where she could sleep, but she told herself that, even though she would be on the streets, she would find peace. She also told herself that even though she would be sleeping on the street on cold nights without shelter or food to eat, that her spirit would always be warm and well fed with peace. And indeed she enjoyed living on the streets because to her it felt like a great home.

People began judging, her asking each other if she ran away from her husband or her home as a young girl. She finally picked herself up and went back to church, she got back on track and found a job three months later. One Sunday morning she was asked to give testimony and she said:

“A wise man once said, ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’. As you see me standing here I was once hit by a train of lemons and instead of opening a lemonade company, I kept on drowning inside the sour juice of those lemons. I lost all that I had and I allowed people to finish off my spirit by allowing them to judge me and get to me. In life, never allow people to choose who you can be, build yourself up. What I want to say today is that, you might see people as street kids, drunk every day or doing bad but things. Don’t judge them, they’ve also been hit by a train of lemons. Don’t judge them, rather lift them up for they are drowning. Thank you.”

The congregation were all in tears