Madgewick Mabona suffered under the verbal and physical abuse of his alcoholic father growing up.
"[My dad] was a short-tempered person who was very opposed to me being easy going and good natured," Madgewick explains. His dad tried to 'toughen him up'.
"He took me to a boxing gym to train as a boxer and to judo for self-defence. His training was above the level for my age. He would also, when drunk, hit me for no apparent reason."
Madgewick admits that, unsurprisingly, he became an angry young man and deeply resentful towards his father.
However, there was a small spot of light in his childhood and that was going to Sunday School.
"Because of the teachings I received there, I grew up very attracted to the godly side of life." This influence is something Madgewick, now 68, is very grateful for.
The first time he heard about God was as a teenager in 1965. Some missionaries were going from school to school preaching the Good News [the story of Jesus saving us from our sins].
Madgewick wanted to learn more about God and he got the chance to when he went on a school holiday camp three years later.
The children were taught the Scripture, John 3:14-16, which says, "Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in Him. 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."
Madgewick realised from this verse that just as the Israelites were healed in the wilderness by looking at the bronze snake, so he could be healed of all his anger and sin by looking to the death of Jesus on the cross and trusting God with his life.
"When the altar call was made, I gave my life to the Lord because this was the kind of life I had yearned for from childhood!" he says happily.
"I decided to become a Christian because I didn't want the kind of life forced on me by my father."
One of Madgewick's favourite Bible passages reflects his desire to make put Jesus first: "I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death [Philippians 1:20]."
He admits: "There have been some challenges in the years since I made the decision to live for God but they can never surpass the peace and joy of the life I now live in Christ Jesus."
Madgewick loves to share his eternal hope with others, especially in song.•