Stealing to feed and clothe her kids seemed like the only option left for Norah Mokoena until she encountered a peace and happiness that ended all her worries.
At first the father of Norah's three kids did not have a job, but when he found a teaching job in Durban away from their family, Norah became unable to feed her children.
Feeling bitter about the unfairness of her life, Norah admits she made a terrible mistake when she turned to stealing.
"Life was very hard because my kids were still very small and that is when I started stealing food and baby clothes from the shops," Norah says.
Before long, she was arrested and ended up in South Africa's Boksburg prison.
There she saw many other female prisoners with a different heart to her own – they had joy and peace she did not have. She decided to enrol in a Christian discipleship course with these women to learn more.
"I thank my friend Gwen because she taught me to admit my sins before God," she shares. "I learnt a lot from the discipleship course."
Eventually, Norah knew what God wanted her to do: "I asked Jesus Christ to come into my life, so that I can live for Him."
She asked Jesus to forgive her sins and take control of her life.
After that decision, Norah says she became able to forgive others for their wrongs against her.
Before she knew Jesus, she explains, "I could never forgive anyone who had wronged me and that made me bitter."
She now joyfully says that "because I have Jesus in me I have so much joy."
"Even now people come to me, asking me to pray for them."
After her prison sentence is finished, Norah is leaving with a different attitude than when she came in.
"I just pray that when I leave this prison, I can get a job and can work with my hands, because Jesus Christ said He will never leave me or forsake me," she enthuses, quoting from Hebrews chapter 13, verse 5.
Instead of turning to sin in desperate times, Norah now knows the promises that God gives in the Bible, promises like that Jesus made in Matthew chapter 6.
Jesus said, "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? ... For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well."
With such promises to hold onto, Norah concludes saying, "I will serve and work for the Lord Jesus Christ at all times. I thank the Lord for changing my life." •