Time in prison taught Bafana Stanley Nkosi real change comes from believing something in your heart – not just knowing it in your mind.
"When the judge sentenced me my heart was not right, the only thing I was thinking of was revenge," Stanley admits.
"Change starts from within and before you can change you must first address your heart and mind."
This revelation came after years of causing trouble wherever he went.
"I had to change from one school to another because the teachers had had enough of me," Stanley recalls.
"Things got worse when I left school. I was smoking drugs and crime was my favourite game."
Stanley's mother tried to help him by getting him a job where she was working but his old habits resulted in the same outcomes.
"Like in school, at work they had to change me from one post to another, not because of promotions but because of the trouble that I was causing them," he confesses.
His mother would also take him to church in the hopes that it would help him to change.
"Going to church was not enough," he says, "I needed Jesus in my life because the truth is no church can save anyone, only Jesus Christ can."
This wakeup call came when Stanley was arrested for his crimes and sentenced to time in prison.
"When you are blindfolded by the devil nothing good will come your way. The Bible says in John 10:10 'The thief (the devil) comes only to steal, kill and destroy' and this is what I was doing with my sinful nature," he shares.
While serving out his sentence he had no interest in God but would sometimes go to church when ladies from the outside were present.
"I was one of the inmates who liked to look and listen to the beautiful ladies in the church for the wrong reasons," he explains.
Then one day he was sitting in his cell when a man was calling out for prisoners to come to one of the church services. Some inmates told this man to get away and some mocked him.
I went”"But that day he just came to me and said 'God is looking for people like you... come, let us go to church'," Stanley recalls.
"I never felt like going but for some reason I felt I needed to humble myself and obey God's Word. That was the day I will never forget in my whole life."
It was at that service that Stanley says he finally understood that he was not saved and was not a Christian until he invited Jesus Christ to come into his heart and change him.
"I confessed with my mouth that Jesus is Lord and Saviour of my life and received a new life and became a new creation in Christ," he says.
"That day God touched me and washed my heart clean and took away my sins. I realised there is nothing that I did or that I can boast about to receive this new life, and I do not deserve it. But God, who is rich in mercy, gave it to me freely and His love endures forever."
Suddenly what he had known in his mind for a long time shifted to his heart and he knew his whole life would change.
"When Jesus was asked about the greatest commandment He said 'love God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind'," Stanley quotes from Matthew chapter 22 verses 36 and 37.
"God is interested in our character so that we will be totally transformed into his image."
Rather than wasting his time in prison Stanley says he sees it as a good opportunity to study further and gain more wisdom and knowledge about God.
"I know that God started this work in me and will surely finish it and I will reach a level of maturity (in Christ)," he says.
"I have lost so many people while being here in prison but God said even though I may lose my loved ones He will never leave nor forsake me."•