Tebogo shares how he left a life of gangs, drugs and stealing to embrace a brighter future
Trying to be cool and hanging around bad company eventually made stealing things seem normal to Tebogo Steven Mokdena because he did it so often.
"I did whatever I wanted and I made a lot of bad decisions," Tebogo shares.
Then one night he was arrested for robbery and overcome with fear in his prison cell.
"I felt fear of the people around me, fear of the law, fear of my family being angry, fear of the future and fear of myself," he recalls.
"I didn't mean to hurt anyone with the crime. I didn't know what I was doing anymore."
To overcome his fears he decided to join a gang for protection and a sense of belonging.
"I was in the 28 Soldier gang trying to heal my heart but soon I started to beat people, stab them with a knife, smoke dagga, and run around with the gang. I thought I was cool to hurt others feelings," he confesses.
Tebogo says he did not fear God's judgement at that point and was always thinking about evil things until he began to realise that these things were not helping him towards a better future.
"Soon I realised that my future is in my hands and I started to go to a chapel service hoping that God may have mercy on me," he shares.
Yet his evil thoughts continued to corrupt his mind and he admits that all he could think about as he entered the service was bringing corruption to the church.
"But as soon as the service began I started to have feelings I had never felt before," he adds.
"The speaker read from the Bible and I began to learn that there was someone who can change my future and it was only through Jesus Christ the Son of God who took my sins upon Himself."
As Tebogo looked around him he noticed something different in the Christians who were there, they had life and light in them and they had a way to salvation.
"I saw the difference in the house of the Lord," he says, "I realised the devil is a liar because he came to destroy us."
Understanding that the devil had led him down the path to destruction, Tebogo finally saw that a brighter future and eternal life in heaven one day could still be his if he was willing to give up his old life and surrender it to Jesus Christ.
"I accepted the Lord of lords and the King of kings as my Saviour and let Him be my Alpha and Omega (beginning and end) because he is the Lord, my light and my salvation, whom I should fear," he explains.
"I spoke to God in my prayer saying that I want to be His servant and disciple."
From that moment on Tebogo knew that despite all the bad things he had done, God had forgiven him and the Holy Spirit had come to dwell in him.
"Since I accepted Jesus as my Saviour I started to have peace and joy and see changes in my life," he shares. "I lost all my friends who were running with the gang but I saw that God had a bigger purpose for me. While I was in the darkness of my old ways I used to talk about the gang a lot and steal people's things but since God is living in me I see things that I didn't see before."
Having repented (turned away from) all the wrong thoughts, habits and actions he had once thought made him 'cool', Tebogo began attending the Purpose Driven Life and Alpha Bible courses, and the World Hope Ministries programmes in the prison.
"I also love reading the Word of God (the Bible) because God's promises healed me of my past and showed me that I am not an accident here on earth. Now I am no longer that boy who was so corrupt. God is love all the time. Whenever I am in a bad situation or a good situation He is there for me and will fulfil His purposes."
Tebogo is extremely grateful that God has given him a brighter future that he does not need to fear.
"I thank God that I am no longer in a gang out to hurt people. I thank God that I am a new person in Jesus Christ. God sculpts us from nothing into something. I thank God for who I am now because I can control myself in the temptations such as fights, gangs, anger and everything else."•