||Lize Bartsch (right) and her sister Cathy Carstens, a five time winner of Cape Argus Cycle Tour
Boyfriends, popularity, top grades, and great parties — Lize Bartsch had
everything she wanted, but beneath the shiny exterior was a little girl
frequently afraid of the dark and sad without knowing why.
“My fear started when I watched some horror movies, and I was so
stricken with fear that I could not sleep,” Lize begins.
“My mother said, ‘Just say your prayers’, but when I did it
felt like there was no one there to listen. I lay awake for hours sweating
under the bed covers, too afraid to remove them.”
However, 13-year-old Lize would hardly admit her fears to anyone else.
About this time, Lize’s aunt began to
seek answers in life due to her crumbling marriage and household, and
surprised her family by becoming an outspoken born-again Christian.
Lize recalls: “My aunt’s life and marriage were so changed that
she began to talk to us about Jesus.
“On one visit, she gave me a book entitled Run Baby Run, by Nicky Cruz,
which talked about a love stronger than death.”
Lize remembers it was a gripping true story of Nicky, a gang leader, drug
addict and murderer living the street life, who was visited by a bold
Bible-toting preacher named David Wilkerson.
Opening his front door, Nicky held up his flick knife and told David: “I
know what you came to tell me; that God loves me, but that’s a lie,
there is no love, not even my mother loved me, she threw me out on the
streets, don’t you know I’m a murderer and could cut you up in a
David replied: “Yes, but each one of those pieces will continue to tell
you that God loves you.”
Lize continues: “This touched me deeply because I knew, just as Nicky
knew, that David possessed a power and love that was stronger than the fear of
“Nicky did give his life to Jesus and was set free from all addictions.
“The book helped me clearly understand the forgiveness and grace
(undeserved love) Jesus had to offer a sinner, and that being a Christian
meant handing our messed up lives over to Him so that He could exchange it for
a clean life and a fresh new start.”
When she finished reading at midnight, Lize simply prayed: “Lord,
tonight, I give my life to you.”
“I didn’t expect much to happen,” she remembers, “but
suddenly everything changed.
“God was with me in the room, I was aware of His holy presence; it was
the purest white surrounding me and also inside me. Feeling unclean, I began
confessing my sins to God.
“After that, an exhilarating excitement filled me and I wanted to climb
on the roof and shout to the world: ‘It isn’t a fairy tale, its
true and it works, God is real and He makes everything
The next morning, Lize remembers thinking: “So this is why we are here
on earth. Not to live selfishly for our own egoistic desires but to be in a
relationship with the living God — how much more fulfilling and
In the coming days, previously unknown waves of love came out of her heart for
people she used to despise at school and in her neighbourhood.
“Later I began visiting the sick in hospitals. I found that as I
actively reached out to people I became a channel of God’s pure love and
in the process I was blessed also.
“I also began enjoying my studies, especially biology and geography
because the heavens and the earth declare the greatness of our Creator.
“Therefore, the things that previously were boring to me became exciting
and the things previously exciting, like parties, became boring!”
Lize says a concise explanation for why she gave her life is found in
Jesus’ words in
Mark 8, verse 35: “If you want to save your life
[for yourself], you will destroy it. But if you give up your life for me
(Jesus) and for the good news, you will save it.”
“My life shows that it really works to seek God with your whole heart,
soul and mind, and dedicating yourself to follow Jesus and be His
disciple,” she concludes.
“I don’t want any other life, Jesus satisfies my soul.”