Stories from Tanzania: Richard and Jackson
One thing stands out in all my interviews with people when listening to their conversion stories: there is a fresh desire to share Jesus and the new truths they have learned with others. It reminds me of Jesus’ words after healing a man who had been possessed by a devil, “Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee” (Mark 5:19, KJV). God instructs each person to share what they have experienced of His healing and grace.
Richard did not know that a church like the Seventh-day Adventist Church existed until the age of about 20 years. As a young teenager, he stopped attending the Catholic Church because nothing of religion attracted him anymore. At an early age he started smoking and drinking since his family were tobacco farmers. One day, while visiting his uncle, an Adventist evangelist came to give his uncle Bible studies. They were studying the Bible study lesson from Light Bearers Ministry on the second coming of Christ. Richard joined the study, but only as a listener.
His family rejected him when he started attending church on Sabbath.
He was deeply moved by what he heard. The soon coming of Jesus touched his heart. He received a series of the Bible lessons from the evangelist. His family rejected him when he started attending church on Sabbath. But Richard stayed faithful and was baptized. The Bible study lessons helped him grow in his personal relationship with God. His love for God has increased, and as he learns more truth, he follows. He shared the Bible truths with his mother and grandmother, and they were also baptized.
Richard moved to his father’s place and started sharing his faith with him, but his father wanted to chase him away. Soon his father had a meeting with the Catholic Church leaders. They could not convince Richard to forsake his new relationship with God and he refused to return to his Catholic roots. His father and grandfather don’t want to hear religious matters from him, but he keeps trying to share the precious truths he’s learned with them.
Richard’s desire and plan is to be a full-time evangelist. He is one of the main people in the church distributing the literature Light Bearers Ministry sent. He is currently studying with four students in their homes. Three of these four students are Muslim. Two are ready to accept Jesus as their Savior and one is ready for baptism.
Jackson was preparing to become a priest while in secondary school. He was serving at the altar, receiving holy communion and participating in all the sacraments of the Roman Catholic Church. Once a year he travelled south of Dar es Salaam to participate in Legio Maria. This is a pilgrimage to a statue of Mary where she is praised and worshipped. Through this he was reaching out and sharing with the community and other Catholic Church members, “You are not really Catholic if you don’t have communion with Virgin Mary.”
“You are not really Catholic if you don’t have communion with Virgin Mary.”
During holidays he was working on the school farm to pay for his studies. His English teacher saw potential in him. She offered him a job during the school break to work for her as a house servant and in return she would pay for his studies. The teacher was a Seventh-day Adventist. She introduced the Bible study lessons from Light Bearers Ministry to him. Jackson was angry when he read about the mark of the beast and said it was against the Catholic Church. But he continued reading the studies. When he read about the Second Coming, he calmed down. When he came to the lesson about the cross, his heart was changed, and he realized that all truth is explained from the cross. He realized the great truth of love in the cross and it sparked in him a desire to share the truth he has learned with others.
After his very first attendance to the English teacher’s church, he wanted to get baptized the same Sabbath! He was baptized two weeks later and has declared his interest to serve as a church worker. He wants to be involved with sharing Bible studies with the community. Previously Jackson studied education and taught in a government school for seven years, but the desire to work for God as a Bible worker burns bright in his heart. He wrote a letter to all the conferences in Tanzania inquiring about being employed as a pastor. He passed his interview and the church has given him employment as a pastor while he studies theology. God fulfilled his desire to share his love for God with others.