Regarded as the "main man" for his sporting prowess, leadership skills and ability to drink older men 'under the table', Tiaan Venter still knew life's pleasures would not last forever.
Tiaan has never felt an "empty feeling", as if his life was not fulfilling enough, and says he has always viewed himself as an "eternal optimist" who enjoys all life has to offer.
"However, I knew without a doubt there is a heaven and there is a hell, and I did not want to go to hell," he explains.
"So my goal was to enjoy life exactly the way I was living and add to that, the gift of eternal life after death."
He first learned about the significance of Jesus Christ's death and resurrection after attending a prayer meeting at boarding school.
Yet, as soon as the two prayer group leaders left, Tiaan admits, "I set off on my own journey that was not closer to God, but further away from Him."
In high school he discovered that he could hold his liquor far better than any of his friends and took pride in the status this seemed to give him.
Bad habits started to form and carried through to university, causing him to fail most subjects due to excessive partying before he wrecked his car and motorbike in two accidents within three months.
"So there I was, no car, no motorbike, studies in a shambles and drinking up to a bottle of vodka in one sitting. I was trying to control my own life and destiny and was not doing a good job of it."
Not long after this realization, Tiaan visited an old drinking buddy and was surprised to find that he had turned his life around after becoming a Christian.
“I was trying to control my own life and destiny and was not doing a good job of it”"This was an interesting occurrence to me, especially since I knew where he came from and how he used to live, so I started talking to my old drinking buddy who was suddenly 'Holier than Thou' hoping to rescue him from his brainwashed state of mind."
Tiaan's arguments were met with responses he could not refute and left him thinking that perhaps his buddy had found a better way to live.
One Sunday afternoon, realizing he could not keep rebelling against God, sitting in the pub, Tiaan decided to leave and drive to the nearest church, where he sat in the back ready to "enjoy the show".
After attending there for a year, he was astonished to be elected into a leadership role in the church.
Tiaan says that he was so convincing in "playing the game of religion" that he even lead a Bible study group while continuing to live contrary to what he knew God wanted.
"I was partying, drinking and enjoying life even more now because I saw myself as a Christian leader working for the Lord and therefore on my way to heaven. I was sure the Good Lord was impressed by my efforts. Life was great."
Another year passed before he began to feel bothered by Jesus' words in Matthew chapter 7, "Not everyone who says to me 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven."
"I knew the Lord was referring to me, but how could I, one of the elders, stand-up in church and declare I'm lost and needed help?" Tiaan confesses.
"The Bible says that you can know that you are saved and I definitely did not know, I just hoped."
Instead of seeking an answer, Tiaan resigned from his position in the church and left "feeling lost".
Thankfully he later came across a Christian who he says showed and shared with him what it meant to have a living relationship with Jesus Christ.
After one of these discussions, Tiaan says "I knelt alone and surrendered control of my life to Jesus – I entered a personal relationship with Him. This time round, God cleaned up my life."
Looking back and connecting the dots over his past experiences, Tiaan says he has finally found peace in knowing with absolute certainty that his soul is secure despite what he might face in this life.
"The more I realize that God is totally in control of everything and that it all works together for good (although it does not always feel that way) the more I can see His loving hand in my life," he says.
"But the biggest thing for me is the peace I experience daily to know that Christ died for me and because I have accepted Him as my Savior I am now forgiven of all my past, present and future sins and will one day be with Christ in heaven forever."