As a child, Gerald Mthembi was a good boy who had a great family life, went to church regularly and obeyed all the rules. Yet, he confesses that he felt empty and depressed inside.
"There was a definite emptiness in my heart," he says. "As a young boy I did not commit sins as my friends did. I did not steal, I did not smoke, I did not touch alcohol or do any of the things that the other boys did but I felt an emptiness and had bouts of sadness and depression over nothing."
Gerald grew up in a mission house as the son of a pastor and his wife who were very committed Christians. "My childhood was filled with Sunday school," he remembers. "I enjoyed it very much as a young boy. I was a very happy child. My parents did everything to give me a very comfortable home full of love and sweet memories."
He was also a top student and often represented his school at events. However, despite his popularity and success, Gerald longed for a better and deeper relationship with God.
"Hearing about God has always been my life," he says, "But I wanted something more beyond my Bible knowledge and keeping God's commandments and the teachings of my parents and teachers."
Gerald went forward on many altar calls [going to the front of the church for prayer] as a child and prayed to give his life to Christ. As a result, he cannot pinpoint the exact time when he became a Christian.
The Bible verse from Romans 3:23 "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God," challenged him a lot at the time.
"This verse got me thinking very deeply about my life," he shares as he came to the realization that he had to stop and give his whole attention to Jesus.
"In 1982, some older youth from our church took a special interest in me and started to disciple me," he recalls.
With help from his mentors and with prompts from the Word of God, Gerald, was finally able to accept that Jesus had indeed saved him from his sins, and he was baptized [immersed in water as an outward sign of his commitment to Jesus Christ] on December 11th, 1983, at the age of 14.
"The water baptism was a turning point in my life as it really ushered in a new life for me from that moment on," he smiles. "I have experienced an inner peace like no other. I have been made right with God without the guilty feelings I often had previously. I have taken my relationship with God to the next level beyond regurgitating Bible verses. The Scriptures became alive in me.
"The best part about being a Christian is the knowledge that your sins are forgiven. One of my formative verses was Galatians 2:20: 'I have been crucified with Christ, it's no longer I who lives but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.'"
Gerald is no longer empty and sad inside. He is full of joy and gratitude. "Accepting the Lord is the best thing you can do for yourself so that you may live a life that is aligned to His purpose.
"We should live a life of impact and strive to live beyond ourselves as we are the conduit of the love of God on earth. Let us stand and be counted!"
Today, Gerald has followed in the footsteps of his father and grandfather and has become *a pastor, serving and ministering to others in need.•