Jeremiah Banda was in grade 8 at school in Zambia when he was hit hard with the reality of the choices he was making and the direction his life was headed in. He got a girl pregnant and was punished by her family, and he also had an anxious wait of three months for the results of an HIV/Aids test.
During this time, he was frantic and suicidal, wanting rather to die than live with consequences of his sin. He realised he could not go on the way he was and started to search for God.
Although only a teen, Jeremiah was already a sex addict and a brawler, picking fights as a way of "trying to control everything because of my low self-esteem", he admits.
He says it was tough being raised in severe poverty by a single parent after his father died when he was six, and he felt he had to grow up and take responsibility too quickly.
On 19 October 2000, in the midst of his problems, Jeremiah decided to hand his life over to Jesus during a school Scripture Union club meeting.
"On that day, in a classroom with the Scripture Union person preaching, I was saved and God showed me how valueless the things of the world are. The light came into me and I began to cry. From that day onwards I have hated anything evil, wrong and sinful, and I long for holiness," he declares.
Unfortunately, Jeremiah found that although he wanted to be pure, he still often found himself going back to his sinful ways.
"At one point I was so tired of the carnal life that I asked God to kill me rather than let me keep on living a life of sin," Jeremiah confesses. "However, God in His mercy spared my life several times and has empowered me to defeat sin."
"The greatest challenge I have found is trying to move forward," he admits. "I went to all the girls I had slept with and apologised to them but they just laughed at me."
Jeremiah says he has found that counselling, prayer and fasting, Bible reading, listening to good preaching and total surrender to God have led to him experiencing deep "painful, cutting" conviction for his sin and this has been the key to setting him free from it.
"To those who identify with my past," he exhorts, "Do not run away from God but run to Him no matter how many times you have messed up." And he quotes 1 Corinthians 6:9-11: "Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God."•