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This short story was written by Olasile Sofolahan, a SOON reader in Nigeria:

A young man called Ayo was playing cards when he became so angry, he picked up a gun and killed his friend. He was put in prison and sentenced to death. Up until this time, he had lived a good life. His friends and family signed a paper to say he was a good man. They sent it to the Governor, the person in charge of the prison. One day a Christian man came to see Ayo. He was dressed in the clothes of a priest.

"Get out of here," Ayo shouted, "I don't want to see you. I have had enough of religion at home."

The visitor tried to talk to him, but he would not listen. Sadly, the visitor turned away and left. A few minutes later a prison guard came to Ayo. "Well, young man," he said, "I see you have had a visit from the Governor."

"What!" said Ayo, "Was that man dressed as a priest really the governor?"

"He was," answered the guard, "And he had a pardon in his pocket for you, but you wouldn't even listen to him."

"Get me a pen and some paper," requested Ayo. He sat down and wrote a letter telling the governor he was sorry. The governor read the letter, turned it over and wrote, "No longer interested in this man."

When the day arrived for Ayo to be put to death, he was asked if he had anything to say before he died. "Yes," he replied, "Tell young men everywhere that I am not dying because I killed someone; I could have lived. Tell them I am dying because I would not accept the Governor's pardon."

Did you know, we have all been offered a pardon for the wrong things (sin) we have done? God loves us so much, he sent his own son, Jesus Christ, to the earth. He lived a life without doing any wrong. Then he was killed as a criminal, taking the punishment we deserve for our sin. That was God's way of offering us a pardon. But we need to receive the pardon that he offers. We must ask him to forgive us. He will do that and much more. He will be our friend and help us when we have trouble. He will make us strong when things go wrong in our lives.