Leana used to steal to help her children, now she wants to teach them a whole new way to live
Leana Bester was in her teens when she began a relationship with a much older man. After having a child together they married, but divorced nine months later. She had two more children to another man but admits she had no direction or purpose in life.
"My life was out of control," she describes. "I was doing wrong things and was not teaching my children about God as my parents had. I was permanently angry and jealous."
When she began shoplifting to support her children she was soon caught and sent to prison.
"God saw that I was messing my life up and took me away from all temptations," she recalls. "God allowed me to be sent to prison for the wrong I had done.
"I was very angry, hurt and sad at the time. I did not understand why, if there was a God, He allowed me to go to prison. I was shoplifting to look after my children. I asked myself how God could send me to prison when I was shoplifting for the right reasons. I blamed Him for my mistakes."
In prison Leana was went through Christian courses as part of a restorative justice program.
"In the beginning, I did these courses with a heavy heart," she says. "But after a few weeks I began to enjoy the classes and was learning about God and His Word, the Bible.
"I never understood why God sent me to prison, but the more I read the Bible, the more I began to understand.
"I realised God wanted to save me from my sinful life (of rebelling against God's laws). He saw I was doing wrong and that I was living my own life, a life full of sin."
Leana says the Bible course that she did changed her life. Though, at first it was an effort to go along, she found she started to enjoy it and it changed her mind about God.
"After a few months I finally repented (turned away) from my sins and accepted Jesus as my personal Lord and Saviour," she says, trusting that God had forgiven all her sin through Jesus's sacrifice on the cross.
"God sent me to prison where I got to see how wrong my life was. I know now that I am a child of God. I want to go home and teach my children about God and His Word."
After becoming a born-again Christian, she recalls, "I started praying to my God and saw how He made my life better."
"I committed my life to God and am not an angry person anymore. I will keep on praising God.
"I know that I have changed. I am a better person. I am much friendlier and no longer swear and get worked up. I am patient and kind and people can see the difference in me. My mother said she could hear that I am a changed person when we spoke on the telephone recently.
"Now when I get angry I talk with God. I really enjoy talking to God, because He listens to my prayers.
"Since my conversion, God has made a huge difference in my life. He has healed my pain, hurt and insecurities. I am a much stronger person and I am able to forgive the people that have hurt me.
"God has protected me in very difficult situations here in prison and has helped me when I was lost. He is keeping my three beautiful children safe and gives them lots of love," she concludes. •