I stole from my mother
Desperate to fit in with the group of friends he had, Neo started stealing from his single mother who had four other children to provide for.
"I started coming to the Universal Church with my mother when I was a toddler. I slowly drifted away from the teaching of the word of God as I grew older. I became friends with people who were not in the same faith as me. They were from well-off families and had money to buy anything they needed at school, while I didn't have that privilege because my mother was a single parent who was raising five of us on her own. That put me under pressure because I also wanted to live like my friends.
I then stole money from my mother when I was in grade 11. I used the stolen money to entertain my friends with chips, sweets and other unnecessary things at school. I would apologise to my mother and promise to stop stealing each time she caught me, but I never stopped," he said.
At one point, Neo stole his mother's bank card and withdrew R1,000 that he blew with his friends. "Having that amount of money in my pocket in grade 11 made me feel good. I felt like the star of my group. My mother confronted me about it and I manipulated her and lied, saying that the devil instructed me to steal her money," he said.
Failing grade 11, while his friends passed, challenged Neo to change his life. "I felt like a loser because no one in my family has ever failed before. The fact that the very same friends I wanted to please were a grade ahead of me made me realise that even though they had money, they took their studies seriously.
I became depressed and had suicidal thoughts, but I never pursued them. As part of my 2017 resolutions, I decided to come back to the church and asked God to guide me. I stopped living a double life and worked on building my relationship with God. I asked God to deliver me from stealing because I couldn't stop on my own. I worked on regaining my mother's trust. I attended the Wednesday services for my spiritual life to grow. I later took part in the 21-day Fast of Daniel and devoted my life to prayer and reading the spiritual books of the church. My friends left one by one because they no longer enjoyed my company and told me I was boring. I didn’t mind at all. I took my studies seriously and I passed grade 11 with good marks.
My relationship with God was strengthened and I started enjoying spending time with my family at home. I no longer steal from my mother because I fear the Lord and live to please Him with my life," he said.