My spirit is free

free spirit

Successful in his job with the Department of Tourism and Travelling and happily married, William was tragically unprepared for the first major trouble of his life and lost everything he had, and yet he says that in Zonderwater Prison he has discovered true spiritual freedom.

Married in 1994 to "an attractive lady I loved" and with two children, William sadly recalls that when he lost his job and lost patience with the contract renewal process, "I became an alcoholic, stopped caring for my family and was unfaithful to my wife."

In this confusion of insecurity and addiction to alcohol, William, now 42, admits he murdered someone, which lead to a 15 year prison sentence. In 2008, William's wife divorced him.

"Losing my beautiful wife and children was so stressful," he remembers. "I did not know what to do because of being locked up in jail.

"God sent a Christian inmate to tell me the good news of salvation in Jesus. It was so challenging but encouraging how God was so loving to me. I was condemning myself about the crime, the sin, I had committed against God and others.

"I recognised that I am a sinner desperately in need of God's grace and forgiveness", says William, adding that this grace can only be received by believing Jesus Christ took the punishment for our sins in our place.

Williams' new friend read Romans chapter 3, verse 23, from the Bible, which says, "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." Then he read from Romans chapter 8: "There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus."

I want the good God to be glorified through my life"By those Scriptures," William says, "I was drawn by Jesus Christ to faith in God the Almighty. My fellow inmate led me in the sinner's prayer. I confessed my sin to God and asked for Jesus' forgiveness and I was born again."

William now has a different view about why he is in prison.

"God who created and knows everything about me allowed the imprisonment situation to happen in my life. Here in jail is where I met my faithful friend and Lord, Jesus Christ."

He compares his previous spiritual enslavement to the Israelites when they were physically enslaved in Egypt.

"Egypt was there for the children of God to know how powerful God was to release them from bondage. Through his servant Moses, God miraculously changed water to blood and changed a staff into a living snake that swallowed the snakes of the Egyptian magicians, as well as many other miracles.

"Like the Israelites who witnessed God's spiritual power, my incarceration has brought me closer to God. I thank God for giving me a new identity in Him, so that even though I am in prison, my spirit is free. I am very humbled, as day by day my knowledge of God grows."

God has given William a new task in prison, he explains, "to tell others about the love of God and the good news of forgiveness in Jesus. As the Bible says in John chapter 3, verse 16, let us know that God, out of His love, sent His One and Only Son so that I, and all who believe in His name, will not perish but have everlasting life."

And when he encounters troubles in prison life, William knows how to respond: "Jesus said in John 16:33: 'In this world you will encounter trouble, but take heart [i.e. persevere] because I have overcome the world' on our behalf."

This inward change of attitude, William says, is a work of God. "Everyone who is in Christ is a new creation, the old has passed and the new has come, says 2 Corinthians 5:17. By the power of the Holy Spirit, God is giving me a new character and identity."

Even the sad news that his former wife is married to another man has not discouraged William. He says, "I have my hope in God, because He is my provider and my Good Shepherd (Psalm 23:1). Jesus also said that 'all who are weary' can come to Him for rest."

As one who has "the right to be called the child of God" (John 1:12), William explains, "I have confidence that when I die I will go on living in eternal life with God" (see 1 John 5:13).

By God's power, William says he has overcome many destructive temptations.

"God has helped me overcome the desire for smoking. In Philippians 2:13, God says that the Holy Spirit 'works in us to will and to do His good pleasure'. In temptations like lying, stealing and jealousy, I thank God that He has made a huge difference.

"I want the good God to be glorified through my life."

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