I was introduced to Jenovan Jonas (better known to me as Riff) 11 years ago, while accompanying a friend to Brandwag’s Hostel Ball.  Today I’m honored to share his story of hope.

It was the 2nd of January 2013 when Riff’s life was turned upside down… Literally! He was laying head under water in a swimming pool, gulping what might have seemed like liters, as a result of a terrible neck injury he sustained when diving into the pool went horribly south.

In a recent newspaper interview, Riff said he was panic stricken but soon realized that he couldn’t enter Heaven’s gates in such a state. (He’s funny like that) He calmed down and got ready to say his last prayer… asking God to accept his soul, but the light everybody speaks of never came. As a SAPS student he expected to die a more heroic death, like being shot or something… he never imagined it going down like this.

Jenovan remembers his friend pulling him out of the water, having spinal fusion surgery, spending 8 days in ICU then 14 weeks at Aurora Rehabilitation Hospital where he received therapy. Doctors explained the severity of his injuries and that he will spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair not being able to do things by himself.

Considering the facts, X-rays and Doctors reports, Riff chose to stay positive! He had an army of prayer warriors behind him. Then one day a miracle happened… he regained feeling and could move his limbs, then followed strenuous physio- and hydro therapy. These days you’ll find Jenovan walking around with crutches, even though he still uses the wheelchair for longer distances.

Being an optimistic person myself, I still could not comprehend the level of on-fleekness this guy’s optimism was at!! I simply had to ask the following questions:

What keeps you going?

In that desperate moment I heard God’s voice clearly saying “Don’t worry you are going to be Okay”.  That promise has kept me and gave me peace of mind.

What lessons have u learnt during the three years?

I’ve learnt so many amazing lessons. I realized that when God performs a miracle it’s not just for you, but for everybody who prayed and believed with you. I’ve also learned how easy it is to lose the battle once you’ve lost your positive mindset, staying positive is key because once you have given up mentally your body will respond to that.

Does your disability in any way affect your relationship with love interests?

I often wonder if I’ll find someone who will accept me as I am. What if it takes a really long time to recover fully, or don’t at all. Who will be willing to stick around. What if I can’t have kids. What if I need help with personal things (like washing) …forever, who will have that patience with me? What if they get tired and walk out, what then? These are but a few of the questions I ask myself. Then I realize that for the right person these things won’t be an issue, we’ll find a way to work with it or around it, because love conquers all!

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One has to admire Riff’s fierce spirit, resilience and attitude he has towards this unforeseen plot twist…I mean, he had plans, hopes and dreams! And just like that, in a blink of an eye, EVERYTHING changed!

Instead of sitting around and seeking pity, he is currently capitalizing on his love for candyfloss. He supplies cotton candy to  local schools, parties and festivals in the Gamtoos / Kouga Region to contribute financially towards his medical expenses. So if ever you need to get hold of him, drop me an email… i’ll hook  you up!

Isaiah 66:9 “I will not cause pain without allowing something new to be born”

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