The hurt of never knowing his father led Melusi Dlamini to a criminal lifestyle before a message in prison changed his life.
"My life was very frustrating because I was born into a family without a father," Melusi says.
He remembers that his grandmother had children to different fathers so her daughters "adopted that lifestyle" and so had boyfriends and bore children to different fathers without marriage.
Melusi was then passed on to his grandmother to raise him.
This broke his heart and Melusi recalls feeling like he could not turn to God because of what his grandmother's church taught him.
"My grandmother attended a cultural church that believes in incense, ancestral spirits, and idols, and did not use the name of the Lord Jesus. According to them, the way to God is only through their churches and rituals, even ones that involve human blood."
Melusi did not know at the time that these practices contradicted the Bible's teachings and, not liking what he saw, he began to pursuing things he now realises are wrong.
"I was addicted to sexual immorality, alcohol, pride, lying, and many crimes like housebreaking and robbery," he admits.
"I was not very well educated and my life was deep into crime. Crime was in my blood."
Even after serving almost a decade in prison for robbery, Melusi returned to a life of crime while still on parole.
"I was not yet saved by faith in Jesus," Melusi explains. "During my parole I committed a robbery and in 2003 I was arrested again," he says.
"While I was awaiting trail I had nothing to trust in and no family, friends or girlfriend to turn to. It was me and the judge."
It was at this point Melusi searched for God and began attending a Bible-based church in prison.
Here, Melusi remembers: "The subject of salvation brought me to a decision, because the Bible revealed to me the original sin that mankind is born with, and Jesus as a Saviour."
“I used to be so cruel and my heart was so hard”"In the book of Romans, the Bible says, 'By one man's sin [the sin of Adam] many were made sinners, and by one man's obedience [that is, Jesus] many were made righteous'," Melusi quotes from chapter 5, verse 19.
"When the Word was preached I believed, as the Word says, 'Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of Christ' (Romans 10, verse 17). Because of this I am born again, I am saved by the grace of God through faith in the Lord Jesus."
Melusi is confident God saved him because he says, "I believe the Word of God that says when I believe I will be saved."
He quotes from John chapter 1 and verse 12: "To those who received [Jesus], who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God."
After giving control of his life to Jesus a dramatic change happened in his life.
"I used to be so cruel and my heart was so hard but since I received Christ, the Holy Spirit came and indwelt me and He converted my heart.
"The work of the Holy Spirit helps me. He is our guide, helper, comforter and our teacher. The Holy Spirit gives us power (see Acts 1:8). This is God's power to fight evil, to be free from all addiction and bad attitudes."
Melusi continues to serve out his prison term but has hope for the future and a mission to tell others about God's gift of eternal life.
"Jesus is waiting next to your heart (see Revelation 3:20)," he shares. "He is knocking waiting for you to open your heart to Him. Believe the Word of God because it is a light to our feet and it brings faith, wisdom and knowledge into our lives.
"I have confidence that, as the Bible says, '[God] who began a good work in [me], will finish it until the day of Christ' (Philippians 1, verse 6)," he says with a smile. •