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From prison to salvation

Surviving 'the blast furnace'

TUBUNGU, eSwatini — My life was not as easy as walking through golden roses. 

It was a life full of challenges. 

It was survival of the fittest. 

Lazarus LIbongo | In the Word

I passed through mud, deep valleys and also through thick bushes. My motto was “Life is what you make it.” 

I grew up in a family of four, and I am the last born. I was born in the year 1990 on 12 January, and I am proudly Zimbabwean. 

I grew up in a village where we used to gather as young boys, playing soccer, hunting animals such as rabbits and also fishing. However, I was rude and disrespectful to all age groups. But today I thank God, for I am transformed. 

I would begin my life journey when I completed my ordinary academics. It seems as if I was thrown into the blast furnace of life. I applied to many universities such as University of Zimbabwe, Bindura University, etc., but I failed to enroll due to financial challenges.

After I failed in all my ways to proceed with education, I lost all hope and I became a drug dealer. Worse still, I didn’t know anything much about being a drug dealer. So I threw myself in that deep dark pit of the drug world and ended up in prison cells.

“Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing.” — 2 Corinthians 7:9, New King James Version

It was in the prison that a preacher, Mr. Johnson, delivered a sermon titled “Repentance.” The message struck me at the depth of my heart, and I accepted Jesus as my personal savior within those prison walls. 

After that, David, a friend of mine, introduced me to his congregation, the Church of Christ. Being part of the community of believers helped me grow in my new faith. I started spending much time praying and fasting. 

Surprisingly, God’s mercy and favor penetrated my life like the drugs I was dealing. God was suddenly in control of my life with new likes, new passions and new dreams. 

It was in the year 2017 when Timothy Rinopisa encouraged me to apply to study at African Christian College, and incredibly I was accepted. I am grateful to be here and looking forward with eagerness and great hope for a fruitful three years of study and growth.

Looking back on my time in the blast furnace, I see that God used those circumstances to shape me to become a vessel to evangelize and bring a message of hope to the world.

Lazarus Libongo is a student at African Christian College in the southern African kingdom of eSwatini (formerly Swaziland). The 51-year-old college is associated with Churches of Christ.

Filed under: In the Word Opinion Top Stories

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