Alfred Nxumalo's face shines with joy now but as a young teen he was "very aggressive and enjoyed fighting. I liked vulgar language and insulting [others]. Arrogance plagued me."
He was filled with "anger and bitterness" as a result of his upbringing. Both of his parents were alcoholics and his mother was subjected to frequent beatings by his father. They were also both deeply involved in ancestral worship.
Alfred's family was so poor they would go for days without food. His parents were uneducated so they were both unemployed. Alfred himself did not start school until he was eleven years old.
"I had seven brothers who were into sexual immorality," he explains, "Hence, I learnt to socialise [sexually] with girls. I also fought and beat up many people."
Alfred says that he was aware of God and spiritual things as Christians used to visit the homes around his area telling people about Jesus.
"Those Christians made me long to be one of them," he admits. "Some week-long meetings organised by a nearby church prompted my search for God."
Alfred, who was fourteen at the time, was invited to the crusade by a girl who was a member of the church. He went and committed himself to Jesus and his life has never been the same since.
"I still remember everything about my conversion," he says. "It was on the 24th August, 1984 and the sermon was on the Bible verse Revelations 3:20 where Jesus says, 'Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.'
"I experienced joy and peace in my heart. I felt newness of life from that day on. I could feel that some change had taken place in me. I experienced the love of God. His peace overwhelmed my life and I was very happy that I had accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour of my life.
"My arrogance was gone. My bitterness was gone. I changed my thinking about God. I changed friendships that were bad influences on me. I began to attend church. I got so excited and I wanted to tell everybody that I was saved and had become a child of God."
However, Alfred's parents weren't pleased he was giving up worshipping his ancestors.
"In a very short space of time, I completed school and God blessed me materially and spiritually. This made my parents stop worshipping idols," he states happily. But his parents, "who had all their hope in me as I was the first and only one to have completed high school," were very disappointed when they learned that he wanted to go to Bible school.
"Paul encouraged young Timothy to set a good example in all aspects of life," Alfred shares. "1 Timothy 4:12 became my inspiration. It says, 'Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity.'
"I want to tell everybody that there is newness of life in Christ if you accept Him as Lord and Saviour. You become a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). God will give you power to become His child and grow day by day."
Two years after graduating, Alfred got married, setting an example for his siblings. "To this day, God is trustworthy. I encourage everyone to try my God," he says.•