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'It flashed through my mind that this was how I was going to leave this earth'

Loving your neighbour can often be a challenge, but for Alexa Kirsten from South Africa, it almost proved fatal ...

Loving your neighbour can often be a challenge, but for Alexa Kirsten from South Africa, it almost proved fatal. ROB JAMES reports

Early one February morning in 2005, Alexa, who lives some 70 miles outside Cape Town, heard terrified screaming coming from next door.

“Without any real thought I said to Mishack, my gardener, that I would go and that he should be ready to come if I called,” she explained.

“I went over and walked towards the open back door, calling to my neighbour: ‘Lizbe, Lizbe, what’s going on? What’s the matter?’

“My eyes had to adjust to the light change and as they did a short dark man with wild eyes – never will I forget his eyes – came out of the shadows. For a moment I thought maybe he worked there.”

But, to her horror, Alexa (pictured right) quickly realised that she was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

“He came up beside me and hit me on the side of the head with what I later found out was an old door stopper iron,” she said.

“It flashed through my mind that this was how I was going to leave this earth. I managed to let out a scream for Mishack before I felt a knife stabbing me repeatedly in the back of my neck. After that I lost consciousness and hit the floor.”

Unknown to Alexa, Lizbe was already dead. Alexa was stabbed 17 times and left for dead too, but God clearly had plans for her life. As her assailant moved away she had what can only be described as a ‘near death experience’ in which she left her body.

“There was no fear or pain; the strange thing is that I had this bird’s eye view and could see myself lying in this huge pool of blood, and empty shell. I could also see that I was paralysed on one side. I could see the stab wounds clearly too.”

But, she continued, “It was as if a hand was pushing on my back. I am certain that it was the Hand of God blocking me, not allowing me to float any further, firmly pushing me back. My soul was then sucked back – it was an almost physical sucking into my body.

“Though I was unable to move and seriously injured, I sensed that I was, for some or other reason, being given a little more time.”

Alexa will always be grateful that the Lord helped her to remain silent until she heard her husband Steve and the gardener arriving, quickly followed by the sound of the police and paramedics.

“I remember Steve kneeling and calling on the Lord,” she explained. “I will always remember that.”

During her long and slow road to recovery, Alexa was “overwhelmed” by “the best and most loving side” of humanity.

As part of her recovery, Alexa was advised to write letters to Lizbe. She found this to be a helpful exercise and on the first anniversary of her death she and Lizbe’s 12-year-old daughter began to create a mosaic against the wall of their home (see photos).

But, for all the kindness she received, Alexa attributes her miraculous survival to the Lord.

“I remember at one stage seeing Jesus himself at the foot of my bed – he was silently standing there and watching over me with love and understanding in his eyes,” she said.

Alexa has forgiven the man who tried to murder her (he was imprisoned because of a spot of blood on a T-shirt). She also realises why God has given her another chance to live – not least to be able to “… comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).

Alexa has shared her story both in South Africa and the UK, but her most challenging invitation came in 2009 when she addressed the inmates of Drakenstein Prison (the prison from which Nelson Mandela was released in 1992).

“I knew I would be facing a hundred men, any one of whom could have been guilty of the same crime as the man I encountered in 2005.

“Many men came to me after the service and said that my story had touched them.

“One man told me that he felt the Lord had sent me specially to address him.

“He came to know Jesus in prison but he was still struggling with [the] feeling of never ever knowing what it was like to be loved.

“I promised to pray for him for the rest of my days. I just hope that I am able to be faithful.”

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