“A Christian organisation, Prisoners For Christ Ministry, visited the prison fortnightly to share the word of God with the inmates. They always gave the chance to the prisoners to give their lives to Christ. They told them that God still loved them no matter how they had soiled their clothes.”
Lethabo was a young man who grew up in one of the affluent parts of Johannesburg, South Africa. He enjoyed all the goodies of life. His father was a renowned businessman, and his mother was a housewife. Lethabo’s father charged his wife not to work but to take care of the home and the kids. He’d provide everything needed for them to live a life that he never had when he was growing up in the suburbs of Soweto. Lethabo was the first child of five siblings and his dad loved him so much. His father named him Lethabo, which means happiness. His first son always reminded him that all his years of struggles had come to an end and there was joy at the end of his tunnel. He mentions the name, Lethabo with a raised eyebrow and a deep smile with a quizzical look. He recounts how Jabez in the bible had to change his name because of the pain and suffering it invoked. He believed in God and went to church every Sunday.
Lethabo became complacent and high headed because he never lacked anything at home and he got whatever he wanted in life. He didn’t really take life seriously. He was in his early twenties and as a firstborn son: he drove his father’s cars around town and partied with his friends — the youthful exuberance was high. He enjoyed life to the apogee. He went to church once in a while with his parents. His father pampered him.
One day, as his father was on a business trip his plane crashed and his body wasn’t even found. Unfortunately for his nuclear family, he didn’t make a will; he thought that he was not going to die soon. He thought that only those above 60 years are to make a will and not the active and a vibrant young man he is.
The husband didn’t also discuss any of the business dealings with his wife and the kids.
The wife and kids wailed and mourned because a mighty tree had fallen in their family. The wife didn’t know what to do with the five kids he had left behind. She saw that the future might be bleak for them. She didn’t know what to do at that moment. She didn’t know whom to turn to. During the funeral of the man, the family members promised to support her and the kids and they will give them a share of the properties and businesses. They consoled and gave them hope that all will be fine.
After some few months of providing for them, the man’s family never assisted them again. The family had sold the properties without the knowledge of the wife and the businesses were collapsing. Her world came crashing when she saw poverty knocking at their door.
They had to go to Soweto where the man had struggled from. They went back to their roots. “From grass to grace and grace to grass”, she bemoaned.
Lethabo did not want to go to Soweto because he was born in luxury and never imagined living a low life. He left home and hustled on the streets of Johannesburg. He found a friend on the streets who introduced him to his luxurious lifestyle. Oblivious of the fact that his friend was a scammer and an internet fraudster. Malabo, his friend, decided to introduce him to the business, however; because of his Christian upbringing, he first hesitated to join. He knew that it was a sin before God, although; he wasn’t a devoted Christian.
His friend drove him in his car, sheltered him for a couple of weeks and tried to convince him to join him in the business. Malabo gave him three days to think about the proposal or he will throw him out of his house. On the third day, Malabo called him and asked him about his decision. Lethabo stood stiff, his face bent down and tears began to flow. He didn’t know where to go if Malabo sacked him from his house. All these thoughts were running through his mind. He was reminiscing on the opulence he has enjoyed again after his father kicked the bucket. He raised his head up, stood straight and told Malabo, “I’m ready”. Malabo leapt in excitement and hugged Lethabo with joy. Lethabo had a sullen face. It didn’t sit well with his spirit and he foresaw a bad omen ahead, but he dismissed that thought.
After several escapades of the scamming and frauding, Lethabo had come to enjoy it so well that he forgot about the negative thought he had. He now assumed his position again as part of the upper class in Johannesburg. He sent money to his family in Soweto as often as he could. His mother kept asking him what job he was doing. He refused to tell his mum. “Don’t worry mum”, he always said.
One day, Malabo and Lethabo decided to take their job a top-notch higher. They scammed a very big financial institution in Cape Town and they had a big booty. It was really a huge amount of money. The bank noticed that their accounts had been tampered with and quickly they lodged a complaint at the police department.
Investigations began. It was an arduous task for the police department. It took them about a year. They were able to make headway in their investigations.
Finally, luck eluded Lethabo and Malabo. They were apprehended while they were in the bar chilling with their friends. Their modus operandi was now uncovered. They were handcuffed and sent to the police station. Lethabo remembered what his mum always told him, “Be careful in all that you do and put God first”. Torrential tears began flowing down his cheeks knowing that that will be the last time of his life. He will be incarcerated, maybe for life because of the heinous crimes they had committed. Their properties were subsequently confiscated and all their accounts were frozen. They were arraigned before the courts and the judge pronounced, “You are hereby sentenced to 130 years in prison”. That was the moment he remembered the phrase, “Had I known it is always at last”.
A Christian organisation, Prisoners For Christ Ministry, visited the prison fortnightly to share the word of God with the inmates. They always gave the chance to the prisoners to give their lives to Christ. They told them that God still loved them no matter how they had soiled their clothes. Lethabo had never participated in the altar call. He knew that there was no way out of the mess he was in at that moment. He was ready to die in prison. How can he still be alive in prison after these long years?
“Get up, eat and dress up. Mama Lupita is here. She will lead you to me. You will be free if only you accept me as your Lord and personal saviour and you’re ready to share your experiences and the trials you’ve gone through with others. I, the Lord will turn your mess into a message that will impact the world”. Suddenly, he felt a tap on his shoulder to get up. It was his friend Malabo. “Prisoners for Christ Ministry is here,” Malabo said. That was when he realised that it was a dream. He pondered over the dream for a while. He got up, freshened up and went to join the other inmates who had already gathered on the compound where they normally had the service. It’s under a canopy.
After the sermon, Mama Lupita, the head of the ministry made an altar call and this time Lethabo went because of the dream he had. Mama Lupita led the new converts to repeat after her, “Today, I take Jesus Christ as my Lord and personal saviour. God loves me. No matter the sin I have committed, He still loves me. Lord, come and be King over my life”. Amen.
After that, Lethabo requested to meet Mama Lupita to discuss the dream with her. He did. Mama Lupita prayed with him that whatever God revealed to him in the dream shall come to pass. She prayed with him and then the Christian Fellowship departed.
One day, a new judge was appointed to the court. He requested to review the cases of all those who had served diligently while in incarceration because the president wanted to pardon some of the prisoners. The head of the prison service handed over all the dockets to him. As the judge went through and perused the files and he separated them: the ones on his right were to be taken to the president while the ones on his left were to still continue serving their sentences. After he had gone through the files and separated them, Lethabo’s file wasn’t part of those that were to be submitted to the president for the pardon. The judge sent the files to the president.
However, what God has said will always come to pass in your life. As the president took out one file after another, he requested that he needs one more person to add to the people he wanted to pardon. The judge went through the dockets again and picked out Lethabo’s file.
After a week, the Head of the Prison Service called all the prisoners and conveyed to them the good news of the presidential pardon. Lo and behold, Lethabo’s name was mentioned. His friend was not. It was a bitter-sweet moment as he hugged his fellow prisoners and they broke down in tears. He told his friends, “I will remember you”.
He packed his prison belongings and was led out of the prison. He didn’t know what to do or where to go, although; he had been freed. He remembered the dream he had when he was in prison. He found the Prisoners of Christ Ministry and became part of them. He became a preacher of the Gospel and a missionary.
He used his life story as a message to people across the globe. His life that he thought was a mess, God used it as a message for people to learn from. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have an everlasting life”.
As you celebrate the resurrection of Christ, know that you’re born anew, old things have passed away and God is about to let your life blossom. The new; has come.
Happy Easter to all my readers.