By Andras Nameny

andile.jpgHow many times have we, as people, stopped and pondered the value, in God's eyes, of each single life?

As a full-time missionary, there is no way to effectively gauge how much my efforts may have affected any one particular individual through different ministries, because my wife and I are constantly reaching out to so many. But here's one story.

Andile, a vibrant 20-year-old, has been imprisoned in the Durban Youth Correctional Center for over a year now, as part of a 7-year sentence for unlawful possession of weapons, in addition to assault, while he was part of a street gang. Even while imprisoned he had been involved in another gang, this one called "Group 26."

Andile began attending my classes, and as I was in need of a translator, he gladly offered his assistance in translating my English to the Zulu language. Once I helped Andile take stock of his life, he came to realize that staying involved in the activities of "Group 26" carried the probability of his sentence being prolonged.

However, Andile's duty as a gang member demanded Andile commit further crimes, such as selling drugs while in prison.

Andile left that life, though not without strong pressure from the other gang members, who mocked and chided him for his choice. They did not understand why he made his decision, but he did.

I remember one time, in a Bible class; I offered a jacket (a treasured item in the cold prison) to anyone who could recite five particular Bible verses. Two of the inmates, Alfred and Andile, raised their hands and, in turn, recited the verses correctly--creating the problem of who would receive the prize. The first solution reached was that they could share the jacket and each wear it on alternating days.

However, knowing Andile 's kind heart and growing maturity in his faith, I suggested that perhaps he might prefer to relinquish his claim on the jacket and give it outright to Alfred.

Because 'sharing' is not a common practice among prisoners, the room became very quiet for one minute…everyone waiting to see how Andile would respond.

"Yes," Andile finally said, "I will let Alfred have the jacket, because I know that God blesses giving!"

Andile is now on the road to becoming a new person, recently dedicating his life to God. Andile is living proof that God is personally interested in each of us and is just waiting for us to turn to Him so He, and none other, can turn our lives around.

Andras Nameny is the Project Manager of Namenyi Project Hope, a FCF Project in Durban, South Africa