As a child, Jasmeen Smith grew up oblivious to the fact that she was both motherless and the daughter of an alcoholic, drug-addicted murderer. But when she suddenly learnt the truth, she spiralled into a dark place of "anger, rage and bitterness".
"I never knew my father growing up. I was raised by my grandmother, thinking she was my mother because I didn't know any different," Jasmeen explains in a Youtube interview.
Then one day, while Jasmeen was playing with her cousin at a park, they got into an argument. In spite, her cousin yelled out: "At least I have a mother!" Jasmeen ran home, questioned her grandmother and found out the truth.
"My father was a drug addict and violent. Then, one night, in a drunken rage, he came home, jealous, and beat up my mother. One blow to the head proved fatal."
Jasmeen was shocked and infuriated by the life-changing news. "I hated him. I wanted him dead," she says. "What kind of man would do that? What saddened me the most was that he left my mother's body there for three days."
After learning the truth about her parents, Jasmeen "started looking for love because I did not have it from either a biological mother or father. I started getting into the party scene and going out clubbing every night."
The teen did not want her grandmother to know the kind of life she was leading "because I looked up to her and I did not want her to know that I was this other person. It was like I was leading a double life.
"I would go out partying and drinking and yet, when I was at home, I would be in my books, studying," she remembers.
Then, one night, Jasmeen overheard a woman talking about the amazing choir at a particular church. Her interest was piqued and the following Sunday she attended a service there.
"It blew me away," she recalls. The music and songs from the choir touched Jasmeen and caused her to want to learn more about God and Christianity. "Right there, I could feel God speaking to my heart. I knew something was happening."
Jasmeen kept on going to church and her "life started to change. It was a process, day by day. God was doing a work in me."
But even after she gave her life to Jesus, she admits that "there was [still] anger and rage and bitterness towards my father."
"God slowly started to reveal to me that I had to get rid of this," she tells. "He led me to contact my father in prison. This was the man that I hadn't spoken to or had any type of contact with in 23 years."
Jasmeen wrote her father a letter. He wrote back, telling her how wonderful and kind and sweet she was to have written him.
"I had to write back and tell him that it wasn't me, it was nothing I could do, and that it was all because of God," she says. "It was God's love. He loved me so much that He would, in turn, allow me to love him. I expressed that to my father.
"Even, to get to that moment, I knew that it had to be God. It couldn't have been me. I wanted him dead. I did! That's how I know God is real."
Over a period of two years her letters started to change. "I went from calling him by his first name to calling him by Father, Dad."
Jasmeen confesses: "I started to love him. I can say, today, that I love him. It's not because of anything he's bought me or anything he's given me, it's because of the love God has shown me. So, I wrote him a letter saying I forgave him. I forgave him for taking my life away. I forgave him for murdering my mother, and I forgave him for taking away every single thing that I thought that I had."
However, Jasmeen has not yet met her father. "I haven't yet decided on the right time but I know God will make a way for me to meet him."
In the meanwhile, she has committed herself to youth ministry at her church, giving the love that she never received as a little girl to the children around her. "I love them and they tell me things and I pray for them and I worship with them and I play games with them – anything that I could do. I think that this is my calling [from God] – to love them."•