An important decision as a child changed the course of Joe’s life
Life was a battle for Joe Masambayasiana as his parents often neglected their children due to their drunkenness.
"Life was never easy," Joe recalls. "As an elder brother I had to take care of the family, my young brothers, to cook for them. My parents often came home late after being out drinking."
As a young boy, Joe believed he was good and well behaved until he heard in school that God had a higher standard than his own.
"We were encouraged to attend Sunday school, and that's when we heard much about God," Joe recalls.
"Our Sunday school teachers explained from the Bible that we have all sinned. That is how God searched for me."
Joe explains the problem he was presented with by quoting from John chapter 3 in the Bible: "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life... Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him."
Knowing God's perfect standard in his conscience and from the Bible, Joe realised that he had failed to please God and keep His good commands and that he deserved God's punishment in hell.
Adding to that, Joe understood he could become a child of God from John 1, verse 12: "To all who did receive [Jesus], who believed in His name, He (God the Father) gave the right to become children of God."
Concerned by his sin before God, Joe approached the pastor who was teaching the Sunday school class on how to receive Jesus' forgiveness.
"I prayed with the pastor: 'God, I am a sinner. I need You to come into my heart and forgive me of my sins through Jesus' sacrifice. Thankyou for making me your child.'
"I received God's salvation by asking Him to forgive me and accepted Jesus as my Lord and Saviour."
In becoming a child of God by faith in Jesus, Joe says, "I remember that I knew I was a new person and that I should not do bad things to anyone including my family."
Joe is thankful that God saved him at a young age.
"Some of my friends are no more; they are all dead," Joe says. "If I did not accept Jesus when I was still young, I believe I would not be alive today."
Joe now reads the Bible for daily encouragement about God's promises, and one of his favourite Bible verses is "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want (anything else)" from Psalm 23.