The tragic loss of her sister crushed Suné Labuschagne and her family and left her looking for answers to the misery she felt inside.
"My younger sister had Batten disease, a genetic disorder. My parents cared for her 24-7 until she passed away a week before her ninth birthday," Suné begins.
While caring for her sister, Suné's father came to the end of his resources and turned his life over to Jesus. His life changed greatly.
"My parents began praying for my sister to be healed. I started talking to God often about how I felt," Suné remembers.
However, several years after her sister's passing Suné decided that "Christianity was not for me". I did not understand the Bible or God. I had had enough and chose my own way," she adds.
"I was very 'good' on the outside, but had hidden bitterness and pride on the inside. This led to jealousy and a bad self-image. I had a bad attitude towards teachers and my parents. I cussed a lot.
"I never thought there was anything 'wrong' with me, always with other people."
Yet she still felt a sense of guilt within. "I felt dirty often. I knew my father was praying for me. After graduating high school I moved to another town. One night I got drunk and when I got home to my flat I realised I was utterly alone.
"I started reading the Bible again and an Oswald Chambers devotional called My Utmost for His Highest. The more I read the more I felt guilty. Until then I never thought I was 'that bad'. Now I knew there was a big gulf of separation between me and God."
"During this time Sunè attended a camp run by a mission organisation, and during the camp it was as if one of the speakers spoke directly to her."
"The preacher said, 'If you die tonight where will you go? If Jesus would ask you why He should let you go to heaven, what would you say to Him?'
"He explained that a good life and good deeds would not help – as all our 'good' deeds are filthy rags in God's sight. Only Jesus' sacrifice can wash away our sin.
"I knew my sin was not washed away. I talked with a lady in the prayer tent and admitted that I was a sinner and that sin separates us from Him. I understood for the first time my need of a Saviour."
“I have a heart full of love for others”She woke early the next morning and began praying to God.
"I cried to God to save me. As I remembered my sins I confessed them and asked the Lord Jesus to wash me and make me clean.
"I prayed in faith, believing the Bible's promises: 'If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old is gone, the new has come' (see 2 Corinthians 5:17); and 'If we confess our sins God is faithful and just to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness' (see 1 John 1:9)."
Following this decision Suné says her life has new meaning and she now wants to serve God and read the Bible daily. She is now serving the Lord full time together with her husband Jan-Harm at the same mission organisation.
"I live by God's promises and trust Him with my life. He has shown me my heart without Him and how miserable I can be. Now I see I can overcome sin and have a heart full of love towards others. I want to become more like Jesus."
Another major area of change is correcting wrongs committed and setting things right with others, including her parents.
"I remember stealing a little ring from a pharmacy when I was eight years old. After 13 years I returned to the pharmacy and paid for the ring I stole. The staff could not believe what I was doing, and that gave me an open door to share how God changed my life."
She does this, she says, because "I realised the precious price Jesus paid for my sin. I don't want to sin anymore and hurt God. He has truly washed me clean."
To those who do not know Jesus, Suné advises, "Search for God until you find Him! He can set you free and make you whole and give your life true meaning and purpose.
"Think about what the end of your life will be without God. Are you sure that you are really a Christian? If your sin has been washed by Jesus you will have a clean heart and a clear conscience."•