I attended baptism class with a friend who later dropped out of high school due to lack of fees. His uncle offered to take him for vocational training but he refused and joined a group of unruly youth in the village. The group was known for throwing stones at moving vehicles and mugging other unsuspecting teenagers.

Joseph had been quite humble while we attended Sunday school and had shown great enthusiasm for church matters. He sung in the children’s choir and was good at reciting scripture texts such as Psalm 23. When I learnt of his wayward behaviour, I knelt down and prayed that God would strength me to face him at his parents place and talk to him. I took a few hours one weekend and went to see him. Joseph had truly changed. He was not the quiet and gentle boy I sung and worshipped with in Sunday school. He appeared disinterested in spiritual issues.

I had the opportunity to pray with him and his parents and went on to talk with him more about prayer and reading of the Bible. I told him that our God is able to give peace and direction in the many difficulties we face in life. I also encouraged him not to lose the chance he had been offered for vocational training. He would acquire necessary skills that would enable him earn a living even if he had not made it through high school. I also told him not to neglect prayer because that is what gives us the strength to follow what the Bible teaches us.

Joseph wondered whether the church would welcome him back but I told him that all of us in church are sinners. Our hope is only in Christ. We believe that He forgave all our sins – past, present and future. That is what enables us to move on in our spiritual lives. We have learnt to confess our sins and faults and trust in His mercy.