Siphiwo Madikizela was a gambler and womaniser, who spent all his time playing cards and entertaining a long string of girlfriends. He thought he did not need anybody, especially God, to help him in life but his line of thinking changed one Easter weekend.
"I grew up in a home that did not know about Jesus," Siphiwo tells. "It was a very abusive home where my grandfather used to beat up my grandmother. I remember, one time, that he beat her with a stick on the head and she bled badly.
"My grandmother and her friends also brewed home-made alcohol in the house."
These traumatic memories left Siphiwo searching for peace. This led him, at 15, down a path of irresponsibility and gambling.
"I would gamble throughout the day until midnight," he confesses.
But, when it was time for him to sit his matric exams, he did not give himself enough time to study and "my symbols were not good at all".
Siphiwo paid no heed to the warning signs, though, and kept on gambling at the casinos and enjoying lots of girlfriends.
But everything changed when, one Easter weekend in 1995, Siphiwo attended a church service and heard the true Gospel [the Good News of Jesus' life and death to save us from our sins] for the first time.
As he listened to the powerful words being preached, Siphiwo recalled when, as a boy, he used to visit churches and listen to the priests as they issued catechisms.
This church service was different to any of the others he had gone to before and Siphiwo realised that he "wanted to go to Heaven one day".
"I knew that Heaven is open to everyone but the criteria is to accept Jesus Christ for who He is - the one who has the keys to eternal life."
When the pastor asked if anyone would like to receive Jesus as their Saviour, Siphiwo went forward and prayed to accept Jesus Christ into his heart and life.
"I have stopped my gambling habit and I have stopped having girlfriends," he says. "I have this inner peace in myself. I have peace with everybody, even those who once hurt me. I do not hold grudges against them. What comes out of my mouth shows them that I am a born-again [spiritually renewed] child of God."
One of Siphiwo's favourite Bible passages comes from Romans 8:28 where it says, "And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose."
"People need to know about the power of Jesus Christ," Siphiwo declares. "Jesus saves and forgives you, whatever sins that you once committed. Jesus redeems and changes people's lives. He can make you a brand new person.
"To all those who have not yet given their lives to Jesus Christ, I would urge you to surrender yourselves to the King of Kings."
Siphiwo is now 54 years of age and has been walking with the Lord for 23 years. He is happily married and serves as a deacon at his church.•