“I loved everything in life but when I forgot my Heavenly Father and went my own way, life became miserable,” Petrus says
Why me? Why do I have to feel so much pain? That was the question Petrus Ndleleni Ntlahla often asked God, blaming Him for the hard times he suffered.
"As a child the world shined bright through my big brown eyes until I discovered the world of temptation," Petrus recalls.
"Money, girls, drugs, fashion – all these things took me by surprise and left me breathless and hungry for more. Yet life continued to feel so unfair, hard and painful."
Petrus had grown up in a Christian family where he says he heard about Jesus every day and yet he still questioned whether to believe and trust in Him.
"When I was cold I would think about God and wonder where He was at the time," he admits.
"You see, before coming to prison I professed to be a Christian but I did every crime and every sin you can possibly think of. That includes armed robbery, which is what brought me to prison in the end."
Sitting in his prison cell, Petrus remembers questioning whether God truly did love or care for him.
"I would say 'God, you said you have a good plan and purpose for me but is this it?' I asked myself how my life had become so miserable and the answer was I was selfish. I loved doing what I wanted rather than loving God and His ways."
As time passed in prison, anger and frustration with God turned to peace as Petrus humbly realised that God did in fact love him.
"In here I found the real me, which I was searching for all along. That was because I found God, my Creator, and invited Him to come live inside of me through His Holy Spirit," he says.
"Now I see that it was God who brought me here to open my eyes to His truth and stop me from ruining my life further.
"I realised that God was there all along as He promised in His Word that He will never leave us nor forsake us. I can feel it in the depths of my bones that He is the true and living King."
Now Petrus says he realises the difference between knowing about God and knowing God personally.
"It's not the same thing to hear about the salvation Jesus offers as it is to open your heart to Him and believe that He died for each of our sins on the cross," he explains.
"Now when I say I believe, I believe with no doubt and prove it by the way that I live my life."
Petrus says he continues to grow his relationship with God through talking to Him in prayer and reading more about God in His Word, the Bible.
"I am proud to be a Christian because I am free, even behind bars, God is in me and with me. Being in prison was not a mistake because that is where I found God."
To others, Petrus has this to say, "You are losing out if you do not accept Jesus Christ into your life because God is good all the time and He turns even bad situations into something with a good purpose. God is the King, He loves me and you no matter what your circumstances are.
"I was blind but now I see, I was lost but now I am found. It feels good to be a born-again Christian because in it, there is freedom." •