My father was a famous man in our area, but not for the right reason. You see, he was a robber and he killed people. My name is Panom. I was born in 1960 in Thailand. I am the fourth of six children – five boys and one girl. My father was a robber because he thought this was the best way to take care of his family.
When I was a child we moved from place to place because the police were always looking for my father. The wanted to put him in prison. Many friends of our family were robbers too. The leader of a village where we lived at one time was a bad man. He always asked my father when he wanted someone killed or something else bad to be done. I was the son who my father loved most, so I always knew what he was doing, even when I was very young. This robbing and killing was the only life I knew.
I will kill you
In one village where we lived, there were two gangs of robbers. There was always big trouble between the two gangs. One of them was my father's gang. One day his gang went out to kill the members of the other gang. My father's younger brother was killed. The police came and the other leader and some of his gang were put in prison. My father was told that the leader said, "When I am freed from prison, I will come to kill all of you."
After some years that gang came out of prison. They went to our village, wanting to kill the village leader and all my father's gang. There was a lot of fighting between the two gangs and the village leader was killed.
The bomb failed
My father was at the funeral with many people from the village. The other gang put a bomb near where everyone was standing. But it did not go off. The police and my father's gang chased the bombers as they escaped in their car. They came to where a railway line crossed the road, just as a train came along. The bombers could not pass, so they jumped out of their car to escape. But the police shot them all dead.
I followed my father
After this we moved again to another place. You will not be surprised to know that by this time I was in my father's gang. I too had become a robber and a murderer. In 1998, I was arrested and sent to prison. The judge sentenced me to death. The next year my sentence was changed to 33 years in prison. It was in 2006, when I was in the prison hospital, that I heard the good news about Jesus Christ for the first time.
A man called Jongming told me that Jesus will forgive all the wrong things we have done in the past, even the very bad things I had done. As he told me about God sending Jesus into the world to take the punishment that we deserve, I thought about my life. I felt as though I had always lived in a very dark place and only Jesus could set me free.
I told God I was sorry for all the bad things I had done. I was still in the prison, but suddenly everything in my mind and body was free. The darkness I had felt became light. Now Jesus helps me to know more and more about God. He is my best friend, right here in prison.
I have been in prison for over ten years, but I will soon be allowed to come out. I am in the prison hospital because I have asthma, but I talk to God every day and believe that he is healing my illness. I thank him for all that he has done for me.