My name is Vinod*, and I come from a non-Christian background. Even as a kid, I was extremely rebellious. I was only fourteen when my dad passed away; I became even more unruly without the presence of a father-figure in my life. Addicted to drugs, alcohol, smoking and everything imaginable, I wasted my life away. I had no respect for my mother or my elder brother. I was a complete hooligan. My only dream was to become famous for my evil antics and to be feared by everyone.

Together with a group of gangsters, we murdered someone influential. We were sent to jail, and released on bail within a year. I spent my days in and out of jail, in the bad books of both the police as well as other gangsters. In the 90s, I landed up in jail again after being accused of more murders.

In prison, I often saw many inmates reading the Bible. I would make fun of them, calling them weaklings, and beat them up until they were bloodied. The jail wardens were terrified of me.

However, during one of my sessions in jail, I fell terribly ill. At that point of weakness, I found a torn page of the Bible lying on the bathroom window sill. I grabbed it and began to read the torn page:

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

Suffice to say, I was mesmerized by it. Everything I know about religion told me that I would get what I deserved because of my sins – that my fate could not be changed. I thought my heart was already too dark for any light to seep in. But I kept re-reading this torn page of the Bible because it leaked hope into my soul.

I got hold of a New Testament Bible and began to read it, like a ravenous lion drawn to meat after many days of hunger. It was as if I was the prodigal son, and the New Testament was written for me! I started to beg the Christians in the prison to teach me how to pray. I knelt down one evening on the cold prison floor, convinced and convicted, and began to confess my sins one after another. I was unable to hold back my tears as I recollected the things I had done. I felt as if someone was wrenching my heart bare. At the end of my confession my body felt as light as a feather, and I slept soundly for the first time in a very long time.

That night, I dreamed I was in a flood and masses of people were drowning in the water. I saw a single thread from Heaven tie my hands and lift me up, rescuing me from the floodwaters.

The next morning, I woke up a completely different person, a new creation! I heard there was a radio program that taught about Jesus, and I so prayed that the jail authorities would allow me to get a radio. God softened their hearts and I had this tiny radio that allowed me to listen to a radio program by TWR called Vedapatasala (Thru the Bible) spoken in my own heart language, Telugu. This was my manna.

I grew spiritually in strength, nourished by the Word of God. The more I learnt new things from this radio program, the more I started preaching in jail whenever I had the chance to speak to someone. One day, I prayed for God to use me more, and I felt God anointing me with holy fire from my head to my toes. I changed, and the people around me began to change… all my enemies became my friends.

When I was finally brought up to be charged for my crimes, to my surprise, most of the charges against me had been struck off the record. I was given a life sentence in prison along with other severe forms of punishment. I accepted this, and even thought I deserved a harsher sentence.

My ministry in jail continued, and while in prison I led more than 300 prisoners to Christ. I would gather anyone who would listen to have fellowship – one hour in the morning, and another hour in the evening – every day. I conducted Bible studies in every block of the prison. We experienced miracles and healing in these services. Many of the inmates who were in this fellowship are now working as servants of God in the free world.

After the new millennium, I received a pardon: God brought me out of prison. One of the first things I did after being set free from prison was to join a church and get baptized. I could not wait a day!

Your radio messages have changed me and continue to lead me in the Lord even today. I was once a pig, but now I am God’s servant working in his kingdom!

* not his real name