Kola Joseph comes from Nigeria
When I was a child, my parents taught me their religion. Most people in my area had the same beliefs. But I learnt other ideas too, such as: "All religions are bad"; "Rich people have made up religions so that the poor people are happy being poor"; "Even religious leaders are slaves." I thought, "If our religious leaders are slaves, we must all be slaves too."
A different way of life
These were the ideas in my mind when I finished school and went to university. But I was not happy. I did not feel that these ideas were the answer to life. I did not like the thought that I was a slave, not a free man. At university I met a girl who was studying the same subject as me. We became good friends. Soon I saw that she had a very different way of life and her ideas were not the same as mine. She was a follower of Jesus Christ. I wanted to find out more about this life. Why was she different? One day she asked me to attend her Christian meeting. The leader of the meeting stood up and read these words, "Jesus, the son of God, came to die for our sins (wrong doing)." These few words made me think, "Jesus is a free person, not a slave, because he is a son. If I become a follower of Jesus I can be a son too. Jesus, God's son, will set me free."
I was the accused
I began to study the Christians' holy book, the Bible. I had many questions and many things to learn. Then one day I realised that I needed to give up trying to answer all my questions. I should first allow Jesus to help me to understand how much he loves me. A picture came into my mind of a courtroom. I was the accused. God was the judge. I knew, perhaps for the first time in my life, that I was guilty. But then a man in the courtroom said, "I am willing to take the punishment for all the wrong that this man has done so he can go free." I knew that the man was Jesus. I realised that I really was a slave. My life was ruled by my wrong doing. That day, Jesus set me free. I did not have to pay the punishment because Jesus paid it for me. God made me a son. Yes, a son, not a slave!
It really happened
Jesus really did take the punishment that we should have for our wrong doing. He came into this world two thousand years ago. He lived a perfect life – never doing anything wrong. But men took him and killed him. He was punished for wrongs that he had never done – our wrong doing. God, the judge, forgives us and lets us go free because of what Jesus has done. Jesus did not stay dead. He was God. He had power over death. He came alive again and will never die. Now he is in heaven. He sets us free to follow him and be our friend.