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Onage James is a SOON reader from Busia, Kenya 

I did not know the love of God. When I was a boy, I laughed at my friends if they talked about Jesus Christ. I used to say, "That is the white men's tradition."

Our family rarely went to any Christian meetings even though my father knew the Bible very well. He never taught us that God loves us. Instead our home became a bad place to be in. Then things began to change slowly. My grandmother came all the way from Sudan to visit us in Kenya. She was a Christian and I used to say, "This old woman is wasting her time," because she often talked to God (prayed), even saying thank you to him every time she had a drink of water. I hated her prayers. My grandmother became ill and, after a few days, she died. The next morning, when we were going to bury her, my old grandfather died too. I was so sad that I could not hold back my tears. But even after this, I did not turn to God and things just became worse. I continued to mock Christians.

More sadness

In 1998, my mother had an accident and could not leave her bed. She died on December 15. I wanted to kill myself because I loved my mother so much, but I decided not to do so. The sadness made me ill with stomach ulcers. My father missed my mother and he missed his children because we were away at boarding schools. He too developed stomach ulcers. Then in February 2000 he died. All hope left us. People came and took all that we possessed and we were left with an empty house. Because I am the eldest son in the family of five, I had to take over. I cut trees on our land and sold them to pay the school fees for my younger brother and sisters. My friends stayed away from me because they knew they could not help me.

Special story

One day I was alone in my room. I took my father's Bible and started to read. I found a story Jesus told, about a boy who went away from his father and did many wrong things. His life got so bad that no-one would help him and he could not help himself. At last he went to his father who welcomed him back into his home.*

I realised I was like the son, and that God is like the father (in the story). It was as though I had been a blind man and did not see how much God loved me.

So I knelt down and asked God to forgive me for all the wrong things I had said about him. I needed Jesus Christ to show me the way to go. Now I know he is not "the white men's tradition". He is the true God who loves us whatever we have done or said. I still struggle to help my brother and sisters, I am still an orphan, but I know Jesus will always be with me and help me in my struggles.

  You can read this story in the book of the Bible called Luke, chapter 15, verses 11 to 32.