Former electrician Adam Van Staden pleaded guilty to robbery charges so he could deal with his past honestly and move forward into a better life.
A troubled background led him into him into a world of taking drugs and ultimately into housebreaking.
"I had a very hard time growing up," Adam says, "By the age of 13 I had to look after my younger brother and sister because my parents were either intoxicated or absent from home. It was a permanent uphill battle."
Despite believing in God at a young age, Adam admits he did not know God personally and lived selfishly.
"I cheated on my girlfriend who was the mother of my second daughter," Adam confesses.
"She left me because of my addiction to drugs and entertaining my 'so-called' friends every weekend. I was not capable of controlling myself and not able to take care of my own wellbeing."
For nine years Adam had a good job as an electrician but began stealing to fund his growing drug addiction.
"I did some electrical work for the in-laws of a friend, but stole some small items while working there. The customer refused to pay me because she noticed things were missing from her house. I later broke into their house when they were away," he admits.
Soon Adam was caught and while awaiting his hearing his attitude began to change.
"Loneliness was suffocating me, so I started praying more intimately and purposefully," he recalls after being cut off from his daughter and his former girlfriend's father.
"I realized that I had done wrong and harmed those who cared for me most. They left me because I continued to do wrong."
With plenty of time to think in remand for two years, Adam remembered back to what he had learnt about God as a boy, and how Jesus Christ had paid the penalty for his wrong-doing before God.
Up until this point he had just refused to submit his life to God but knew it was time to get right with Him through turning away from his old selfish lifestyle and asking for God's forgiveness.
During his trial he did not hesitate to pleading guilty to his crimes, knowing he needed to be honest before God.
“I’m a living witness to God’s greatness and mercy... God will never disappoint you if you trust Him”"I pleaded guilty to the judge because I asked Jesus to forgive me and for His will to be done, not mine," Adam adds.
Serving a seven year sentence, he then began studying the Bible fervently to know more about God.
"I started doing what God asks of us by working through the Bible study correspondence course detailed in the Challenge newspaper," he says.
"I read in the Word of God that I will produce 'spiritual fruits' only by honoring, worshipping and praying to the one and only God. These fruits are strength, compassion, truth, love, forgiveness and wisdom (knowledge) from reading the studying the Word of God and Jesus' message of good news."
This path of allowing the Bible to change your heart, Adam says "is an experience that is hard to explain in words. It is just amazing and fulfilling. Try it for yourself and I believe you will be overwhelmed by the greatness of God."
Adam says there have been many changes to his character.
"God has made me a more patient and relaxed individual. I used to have a short temper and violence was my way of solving problems. I was not changed by courses in anger management, life skills and substance abuse – they did nothing compared to what the Bible itself has done for me."
Adam adds that God has also prepared him for future challenges, making him wiser and more equipped to fight spiritual obstacles and temptations that come his way.
"Compared to the 'old' me who never had the courage or strength to stand up to temptation, the big difference in strength now is that I am using the Word of God, instead of my fists."
His advice to other prisoners is to rely on God.
"I asked for God's will to be done in my life on January 21, 2015. I was part of a miracle that God did, and I am a living witness to God's greatness and mercy.
"I am renewed and a stronger person. I say from experience that you cannot rely on anybody, but God will never disappoint you if you trust Him. Be patient, believe and worship Jesus and He will save you as His Word promises." •