Prodigal ends up in prison

Joseph Motloung
Joseph Motloung says being alone and scared in prison made him search for what was really important.

Joseph Motloung compares himself to the prodigal son in the Bible, who had a loving upbringing but turned his back on it all to live rebelliously and foolishly.

"When my parents showed me the right way, I thought they didn't know what they were saying," Joseph confesses.

His pride led to thinking he was wiser than others and then that he was above the laws of the land. He started stealing what he wanted.

Stealing led eventually to murder and attempted murder, which landed Joseph in jail with a sentence of life plus nine years.

"I ended up in prison for killing someone," he confesses regretfully. "It was a sad day to be arrested."

Being alone and scared in prison cut Joseph down to size very quickly.

"I was alone facing challenges. My friends were no longer on my side, but my family supported me."

This prompted Joseph to reconsider all his beliefs, especially whether Christians are right about the salvation offered through believing in Jesus.

"Salvation is good," they had told him, "because you will be free from 'carrying the heavy yoke' [of the weight of your wrongdoing] and the heavy burdens of this world," quoting from Jesus' promise in Matthew 11.

As he began his lonely sentence in 2003, Joseph thought, "I need to make Jesus my friend. I must start going to church."

At the church in the correctional centre, the preacher quoted Bible verses that changed Joseph's life as he studied them.

The first was, "For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life," from John 3, verse 16.

Another verse highlighted at the church was, "Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these [daily needs] will be given to you as well," from Matthew 6, verse 33.

Finally, Joseph read, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths." from Proverbs 3, verses 5-6

Now he knew the truth, Joseph prayed to Jesus, asking Him to wash his sins away and change his life.

Following this prayer, he says, "God has changed my lifestyle ... to a holy [pure] lifestyle before others." Joseph says he now knows how to forgive others, ask for their forgiveness when he does wrong and live in harmony with people.

"I have seen the love of God, as the Bible says in 1 John 4, verse 8: 'Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.'

"There are many experiences I have had of God's love. Now my life has changed from evil to good. My family know I am spiritually born again, and they are happy about it."

To other prisoners, Joseph pleads that they "trust in Jesus before the day of judgement before God".

"The Christian life is good, because you will know what is right and wrong, what is good and evil.

"Our problem is fear. I have no fear now because I know what is good: obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ."

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