Considering myself an adult at 12 years old, I made destructive choices


Taking an honest look at oneself and one’s decisions is never an easy task, but the rewards of finding personal value and self-worth offers a life changing transformation.
Until I was eleven years old I lived with my grandmother; my childhood was full of love and affection, but when I went back to live with my parents, I spent most of my time alone or with my brother. Everything about my life was different, especially my new found freedom and I started to make new friends. Before long I was given my first beer to drink and by the age of 12, I was addicted to alcohol.

Every day I started my day with a vodka and coke for breakfast. I started smoking and began to lie to my parents. I used to leave the house pretending to go to school, but instead, I went to the park to hang out with my friends. I was introduced to marijuana and cocaine and started enjoying the effect they had on me.

My parents’ marriage was in crisis and the fights at home were constant. My mother became more involved with evil spirits and suffered from depression, and my father had many women and children outside the marriage. As I became more addicted to alcohol and drugs, partying was inevitable. I used to go to the slums for the “Funk Parties” where I was the youngest person in my group of drug dealer friends. I became very disturbed and began to see evil spirits and talk to them.

My mother didn’t approve of my bad behaviour so when I turned 15 I left home to live with my boyfriend whom I had been dating from the age of 12. I considered myself an adult! When he was high on drugs he would beat me seriously. I was beaten up almost every night and had to be careful what I said to him, because if he didn’t like it, he would beat me again. I became his “property” and couldn’t go out without telling him or have other friends. I was ashamed to tell my parents about it as they were already disappointed with me.
The void inside me was so great that I tried to commit suicide three times; I no longer had a desire to live. When I turned 16, I discovered a mole on my body which was diagnosed as a stage five melanoma (skin cancer). It was removed immediately at the Institute of Cancer. This health scare was a turning point in my life.

My grandmother, who was already an assistant at the church, evangelised to me and for the first time I took notice of someone speaking to me and her words kept going round in my mind. I was not afraid to die, since I thought death would be the solution to all my problems, but deep down I was asking if this was the life for me and questioning whether God was alive.

Because of my granny’s insistence I went to the Universal Church in Abolicao for the first time on a Friday when there was a night vigil. I felt extremely uncomfortable in that place. I felt worst during the powerful prayer, but when I went home afterwards I was feeling very light. I began making my chains of prayers and was healed from the cancer. I joined the youth group and was baptised. Then I had a personal encounter with God and received the Holy Spirit. I was trained as an assistant and the void which I had carried for so long, was filled.
I met my husband in the youth group and we were both assistants in the same church. When we married, he was an auxiliary pastor and a year later we came to South Africa. At the beginning of our marriage we had many conflicts, but we always managed to work them out. My husband was always calmer and more understanding than I was.

I’ve always had a passion for souls who are suffering, as I will never forget where God took me from and how He transformed my life. In South Africa I began a new journey of challenges and I began to evaluate the roots of my actions. I had always been an insecure person who was dependent on the opinions of others. I felt inferior always thinking others were better than me.
As I had learned to ignore my emotions and present a “tough” exterior so that nobody would know how vulnerable I was, I did not know how I would begin sharing my inner turmoil with my mentor. How would I begin to explain that I was not as strong as I thought or that I pretended to be tough so that nobody could hurt me? It was not easy at all! It took some time to realised that if I wanted to continue doing what I loved, which is saving souls, that I needed to change so that I could make a difference in someone else’s life. I had to allow God to work in me so that He could work through me.

Having made the decision, I didn’t waste any time. I swallowed my pride, took down my guard and allowed God to get to work on me. I began looking at my roots, and in the process discovered many things about me that I didn’t know. I discovered new qualities in me but most importantly of all – I left my cocoon. Today I am not afraid to be myself. I know my value, not only before God but also the value I have in God’s work. My journey doesn’t end here because I will continue working to overcome challenges and to save souls for eternity.

Alessandra Barreto
South Africa



  1. Ntobeko Ngidi on

    Thank you Mrs Alessandra for sharing your testimony,I relate with it.

    May God use and bless you even more.

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