Jonnie Shinners knows the heartache of losing family all too well. His father passed away when he was only a day old and his mother when he was 18.
His grandfather raised him but the crushing blow of losing him too was enough for Jonnie to lose all peace in his life.
"When he died I was without hope," Jonnie recalls sadly.
Trying to survive and with no positive role models in his life, Jonnie stole cars and robbed people.
"I had a habit of stealing and would help my friends sell drugs. My life was not good," he admits.
One day he had a dream where he says he saw Jesus' face in the blue sky.
"The dream I had prompted me to go to church and in the church I was happy and learnt about God," Jonnie recalls.
"There was something in my spirit and body that wanted me to hear more about God and Jesus Christ. In the dream I realised that I have hope. God is my refuge and my fortress and in Him I can trust."
Yet he only started getting serious about God when the consequences of his actions caught up with him and he was sent to prison for his crimes.
During his first prison sentence Jonnie recalls getting baptised as a public declaration of his faith in Jesus Christ but admits that he did not fully understand what it meant at that time.
It was only his second prison sentence that suddenly he realised what it meant to be a follower of Jesus Christ.
He spent his time reading the Bible and soon began to discover how much God loved him – enough to send His only Son Jesus to die in place of the punishment he deserved.
"I was overwhelmed by my short comings and inadequacies but in Jesus I realised I am made perfect."
Jonnie realised that accepting Jesus as his personal Lord and Saviour meant that all his wrongs could be forgiven and he could have a fresh start.
"Having heard about Jesus Christ, God and the Holy Spirit – I realised I needed to respond not just by hearing but by putting God's commands into practice," he says referring to Romans chapter 2 verse 13.
"Since I have found Jesus Christ as my Saviour I have such peace in my heart and the Holy Spirit has helped me overcome my sins," Jonnie says.
"I now see that God is at work in me because I gave Him my life and I trust and believe in Him."
Jonnie encourages others with Jesus' words in John chapter 14 verse 27, which says: "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid."
"Living the Christian life results in perfect peace and a sense of security and well being," he concludes.
"Those who have made this discovery have found that knowing Jesus is the only way to a second chance at life. The joy of the Lord is my strength and I am joyful and courageous despite my circumstances."•