While Sophia Raath always saw herself as a good person and church-goer, she was shocked the day she realised these things were not going to get her into heaven one day.
"I did not smoke or steal, although I did lie sometimes and my jokes were not always clean," she confesses.
"I worked in offices and was a very good example to others; I did not have 'big sins', so that made me a good person right?"
From a young age Sophia attended church and later joined the church choir and supported her husband in his role on the church committee.
Yet secretly she recalls thinking: "The messages [about turning away from things that offend God] I heard in church made me angry because I was young and still wanted to enjoy my life; what does a preacher know?"
"For 14 years this carried on, people were praying for me but I laughed it off because I thought I did nothing wrong."
Then after a new pastor arrived, he gently encouraged Sophia to sign up for a course about Christianity. She admits she was "full of excuses".
Then at one night service in 1975 Sophia heard a message that she felt was preached just for her.
"I became very scared and realised that if I had to die tonight I was going straight to hell," she recalls.
"What would the congregation think? I am on the leadership and sang in the choir ... Oh Lord what is happening?"
It was at that point that Sophia realised that her good deeds were not going to get her to heaven, only Jesus' sacrifice on the cross could do that.
This is explained in Ephesians 2, verses 8-9, which says, "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that (salvation is) not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast."
“I do not have any guilty feelings, unrest or fear now”When people were invited to come forward to commit their lives to Jesus at the end of the service Sophia knew what she had to do.
"It was as if someone gave me a soft push and I stood up, I did not care who saw me and what they would think," she says.
"I did not feel anything supernatural but, with tears and faith, I knew Jesus had saved my soul out of pure grace (undeserved kindness)."
Sophia immediately went home to tell her family.
"My older brother said that it was childish of me, and immediately I told him if you can't be like a child then Jesus can do nothing in your life.
"I also wrote a letter to my mother-in-law and apologised for anything that I did that hurt or wronged her; I told her that I was now a child of God. She did say thank you for apologising, and deep in my heart I had peace."
After this Sophia battled with many questions, uncertainty and people telling her that her new commitment and faith in Jesus would not last.
Despite this she found reassurance in God's Word, saying, "I opened the Bible at 1 John 1, verses 8-9: 'If we say we have no sin we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us'. And, 'If we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness'.
"I do not have any guilty feelings, unrest or fear now because the Lord took it all away and cast it into the sea ... What other people think does not matter to me, what matters is what Jesus thinks of me."
Rather than trying to earn her salvation, Sophia now rests knowing that her faith in Jesus and a genuine desire to please God will see her through.
"I like to talk to other people about their precious souls. I am not scared of death anymore and of the second coming of the Lord."•