Surprised By Joy

Photo by Stephen Elliot in association with

“What happened, Veliswa? Did you meet someone?” my customer asks, her eyes meeting mine in the mirror as my hands skillfully weave extensions into her hair.

“Yes, I did,” I say with a shy smile.

I think back to that
morning, waking up
with a hangover.

I had been used to waking up with a hangover. I’d sat on the edge of my bed, rubbing my head. My hands pressed into my temples as if trying to rub away the emotional fog I lived in. I couldn’t remember the last time a real smile had spread across my face—the last time I felt happy.

Something snapped in me that morning and I finally realized—that no amount of partying, no drug, no boyfriend could give me an escape from this fog.

I’ ve tried everything—let me try God today. That was my thought as I stumbled to put on my shoes.

Inside the small church,
something rushed
over me and swept
away the fog.

The presence of Jesus was new to me.

“So who is he?” my customer asks, and I’m brought back to the present.

Like I always do when my customers and friends ask me what’s changed, I tell this customer about the day I met Jesus.

Everyday at noon, I close the doors to my business and pray with a few other business owners. With passion, we pray for our community. There are witch doctors, drug dealers, gangs and many people struggling to find food to eat. Every day I see others walking with eyes clouded over, trying to overcome the fog they’re trapped in.

I now know that there is hope.

I have dreams for my
community and of
how God can change
this place.

He has done it in my own life. I know he can do it here.

Hair Salon Owner
Khayelitsha, South Africa

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