He was convinced he would die in hospital and was filled with guilt and remorse.
At the age of 25, death was already breathing down Cornelius Machaya’s neck.
In March 2020 Cornelius was admitted to Clanwilliam Hospital with a life threatening bleeding ulcer after he vomited severely and passed blood. Years of substance abuse had taken a toll on his health.
He was convinced he would die in hospital and was filled with guilt and remorse. He said goodbye to his wife. The weight of what he had put her through over the years, while she never left his side and always prayed for him, was suddenly too much to bear. He asked her to take good care of their precious baby girl, because he was convinced he would never see her grow up.
But then, while he lay in hospital, feeling weak, helpless and tormented by physical pain and regret, love entered the hospital room. For the first time in his life, Cornelius experienced the presence of God. He knew about Jesus, but up until that life changing moment, he didn’t know if he really believed in Him. There in hospital, the Holy Spirit showed Cornelius how good and loving God had been to him all his life.
Cornelius is originally from Zimbabwe and was orphaned at a young age. God always made sure he had a roof over his head. Those were tough times. He was just trying to survive and had to live with different family members. He moved from house to house, but God always provided for his needs. Cornelius started smoking dagga (marijuana) to cope with his difficult circumstances.
He soon discovered his exceptional musical and voice talents and regularly performed reggae music to his growing local fan base in the city of Gweru. His dagga addiction grew progressively worse and he started drinking as well. His addiction became so severe that he quit his job, because he had to smoke dagga all day to feel stable.
He also made excuses not to see his girlfriend, who is now his wife, so that he can stay home and smoke. Many times he promised her that he would stop smoking, but he never delivered on his promise. He was very much aware of the fact that he was hurting her and knew he was failing terribly at being the man she deserved.
At one stage Cornelius was completely reliant on selling weed and dagga cakes to make an income. Later, a pastor took him in and loved him like a son. The pastor’s guidance had an enormous positive impact on the young musician’s life. He gave Cornelius the opportunity to lead worship in church. But to Cornelius, singing in the house of the Lord was all about the gig, his talent, advancing his own musical career and never really about serving God.
After his cousin secured work for him, Cornelius, his wife and their infant daughter moved to South-Africa to start a new life in Elands Bay where Cornelius made fish and chips in a local take-away shop. Cornelius promised his wife once again that he would try to quit dagga, but when he came to South-Africa in 2018, he was very surprised to find that the government recently legalized personal use of the drug. So, he continued to indulge his destructive habit.
Chris Groenewald, who regularly bought fish and chips at the shop, introduced Cornelius to the newly planted CRC Church in Langebaan after learning about Cornelius’ musical talent. On Sunday mornings, Cornelius made the 105km trip to Langebaan with Chris and his family to attend church. Cornelius was interested in becoming a worship leader for CRC, but still his primary motive was his passion for music and not God.
It was only after he collapsed in March 2020 and ended up in hospital, that he finally answered God’s call. In his hospital bed, he was faced with his own mortality and fragile existence. He repented of his sins and surrendered his life to Jesus. Cornelius promised that he would dedicate his life to Christ, if God would show him mercy and give him another chance. Cornelius recovered fully and never smoked dagga again. Ever since he left the hospital he hasn’t had a single craving or desire to smoke dagga. He was miraculously healed from drug addiction.
God changed his life in ways he could have never imagined. The Holy Spirit renewed his mind and he says he truly feels like a new creation in Christ. The fruit of the Spirit; love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control manifested in him and is still multiplying exponentially in his character every day.
He finally loves his wife and daughter the way they deserve to be loved. He daily experiences a joy and peace that surpasses all understanding. Cornelius and his family, moved to the West Coast to serve in CRC. God blessed him with a new job in Saldanha, but his priority is his commitment to Jesus and the church. As worship leader at CRC West Coast, he now glorifies God with his talent and leads the congregation with true passion – the fire of the Holy Spirit. He says he still remembers vividly how puffed up with pride he used to be when he was performing in Zimbabwe.
These days he is a very humble man. “I was an influencer in Zimbabwe and led many young people astray. I sold them drugs and because of me, many of them didn’t finish their studies,” he said. And with tears in his eyes he admitted to sending each one of them a WhatsApp message to apologize for the harm he had done to them in the past.
Cornelius is now 26 years old and writing his own worship songs. He dreams about recording a worship album in the future.