“I have buried my past and am living a new life,” says Ezekiel
Ezekiel Moletji has yet to fully forgive himself for the pain and hurt he caused his girlfriend and children. Shame and regret continue to plague him as he sits in prison paying the price for his actions.
But Ezekiel finds hope and joy in the fact he is a changed man; he has buried his past and is living a new life.
"We were in Sun Village," he recalls. "We came home fighting. I beat her in the eyes and then took her to hospital before the police came and brought me to the police station.
"[After I got away] I burned her house. I drank too much. And then I burned the church. That is why I am here.
"I don't want to talk about this anymore, these things are not for a man like me to do." He highlights this piece of his story and labels it: "This story is bad".
When he writes about abusing his girlfriend, his pain and regret bleeds through the page.
"I was introduced to alcohol and it was then I started drinking and fighting; even the mother of my children. I abused her with words and my fists and took money to go to the tavern, spending time with girls, coming home late ... I was useless," he says.
"It makes me cry to think about my past. I wish for her to forgive me for all the things I did to her. She is the most hardworking woman I know and didn't deserve the bad treatment I gave her.
"They were expecting a lot from me and I disappointed them," he continues, referring to his children here as well. Feeling he has failed his family is difficult for Ezekiel to come to terms with as someone who grew up without his parents, and always felt like the "black sheep" of the family.
He felt rejected as a child — his grandparents never allowed him money for school and this made him angry and sad, prompting him to steal from his home.
When his grandparents both passed away, Ezekiel suffered emotional abuse from his two older sisters, whom he felt hated him, and started closing himself off from his family and taking to the streets.
As he heard more about God, Ezekiel learned what it meant to be a loving fatherThere he met his girlfriend, and there he was later introduced to alcohol. And with alcohol came abuse, anger, and destruction.
But as hard as it is for Ezekiel to let go of the things he has done, he is full of hope for a better future and he knows he is a different person.
That change, he says, happened after he attended the church at the prison and he "realized how badly I had treated the mother of my children and how important my family is in my life".
As he heard more about God, Ezekiel learned what it meant to be a loving father. "A real father is a man who respects himself, his family, and the entire community," he explains, and that is what he strives to be.
"It is never too late to set another goal or dream.
"I want to be the best father to my children because I know how painful it is to grow up without the love of both parents.
"And I want [my family] to know that I've received Jesus Christ as the Lord and Saviour of my life."
While he still struggles to wholly forgive himself, Ezekiel has learned for the first time that he is worthy of forgiveness, and that Jesus has already forgiven him.
"I have begun to love myself and all that I have," he says, "and accept myself the way I am.
"Starting again is not an easy thing to do. It comes after failure, disappointment, and losing something. Beginning again requires the courage to say, 'Yes I'm disappointed, Yes I've failed; but I'm not done yet'."
In times of weakness, Ezekiel says he asks his heavenly Father to help him continue to be a better man, a better partner, and a better father; free of addiction and anger.
"Dear Lord, I ask you to bring healing into my life," he prays. "Bless me dear Lord, give me the strength I need to move forward and strengthen my faith so that I will not look backwards, but so I will look upwards to where my strength comes from."•