Unlike so many young men in South Africa, Funani Mooketsi grew up in a happy and financially stable home with both his parents. However,it was not enough to prevent him from making poor choices and running with gangs.
"I enjoyed gang life," Funani admits. "It made me happy to live a bad life. I drank, smoked drugs and hung out with people with bad attitudes.
"I didn't want to hear about God because I was doing exactly as I wanted.
"I was a bad person who made other people's lives bad," he confesses.
But then Funani was convicted of robbery, murder and house breaking with intent to rob and ended up in prison. Being locked in a cell finally helped him realise the consequences of the life he had been leading were not so enjoyable after all.
Yet it was also here that he met Christians whose outlook and lifestyle were so different from his and who explained to him what God was like and how to know him. Another inmate gave him the Bible verse "Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him" (Psalm 37:7a), which deeply affected Funani and caused him to search for truth.
He remembered that when he was growing up many people had tried to share the good news about Jesus with him, telling him Jesus had changed their lives and helped them to understand the difference between good and bad.
my life.Funani realised he was filled with pride, hatred and jealousy, which led to him lying, stealing and being addicted to drugs. He had been rebellious towards his parents, wasted the money they had given him and allowed himself to be influenced by bad things in society.
In prison he joined a Bible study that taught him more about God and the salvation He offers through Jesus' death on the cross for the sins of all who believe. This led him to eventually decide to accept Jesus as his Lord and Saviour.
Now Funani is motivated to be a good man who can be a leader in his community and country, and to act responsibly for the coming generation.
He attends church, reads his Bible regularly and tells the other inmates about the change Jesus has made in his life and how God can do the same for them.
He says he has learnt how to be part of a community and how to forgive others. He has been freed of his addictions and warns others of the dangers of drugs and alcohol.
"I love the Word of God (the Bible), it rebuilds my life," Funani acknowledges.
"Jesus is the only one who can make your life better. Jesus can change you from a bad to a good person who can inspire others and become a hero of the next generation."•