Finding a father

Stumizer Lebitse
Stumizer Lebitse finds reasons to be thankful, even in jail.

Stumizer Lebitse never knew his biological father, lost his mother to cancer in 2008 and then got unfairly arrested for rape two years later, at the age of 17.

Yet in prison he has found something of infinitely more value than his parents or his freedom.

"Life has been difficult for me," Stumizer explains. "After my mother died, my sister and I were in the care of an uncle who physically abused us. Then we were put into a children's home where there were four boys and 25 girls."

When Stumizer realised his foster mother was selling alcohol and drugs from the premises, he felt that, as the oldest orphan, he should protect the other children and he confronted her. However, she convinced one of the girls to have Stumizer arrested for rape before he could report her to the social worker.

That led to a 17-year jail term.

And yet Stumizer's testimony is "I am here today, still alive and kicking, just because of God's mercy."

He sees that mercy in the way he first got to know about God serving in his local church as a boy.

In these early years he remembers he always felt God's still, small voice when he lied or stole things, asking him "Why are you doing this to yourself?"

However,this awareness of a spiritual presence and knowledge about God, only became real and personal and life-changing to Stumizer in jail.

"All the struggle and hardship I went through caused me to search for God and I found Him," he declares. "I know that Jesus is alive and that He loves me, no matter what happens."

Stumizer gets strength from the verse in 1 John 2:14, which reads in part "I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God lives in you, and you have overcome the evil one."

He says that since he believed and confessed that Jesus died and rose again (Romans 10:9), he knows that he is freed from his sin.

Although he is still in prison, Stumizer is full of gratitude to God, who has blessed him with a new family and brought about many wonderful things into his life.

"I always think about God. Since I don't have an earthly father, God will always be my father," he smiles.

A prayer that Stumizer prays, reflects his positive attitude:
"Dear God, please help me to remember every day to ...
count my blessings, not my crosses;
count my future, not my past;
count my joy, not my fears;
count my gains, not my losses;
count my laughs, not my tears;
count my health, not my wealth;
count my friends, not my enemies;
And most of all to count in life on You and not myself.
Amen."

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