Not our past, but His Word defines us

His word defines us, not our poverty or our past. I interviewed 14 students in the week that I was in Tanga. I listened to the stories of deprivation, of abuse, of witchcraft.

I celebrated with them the joy of their salvation of coming to know Jesus and realizing that his word defined them, not their past, not their pain, not their deprivation.

Now they know that they are loved, that they are chosen, and that they are destined for great things. One young man said God told him he was to start 300 churches. He even planted a church while he was still a student.

I realized that these students had come out of more difficult situations than many of the people I minister to in the states' prisons. Yet, these young people have genuinely met God. And that makes all the difference.

One of the students grew up in a home where the parents were into witchcraft. The father wanted to become wealthy, so he went to a witch doctor who told him that he would need to kill his son and bring the blood to him to become wealthy. The father came home thoroughly planning to take his five-year-old son's life, but he was distracted from doing this for some reason.

Even today, when his son, 22, comes home, the father cannot look at him because of his remorse of having almost taken his sons' life.

The son is now feeling God's call to plant churches throughout the communities he grew up in. On the side, he wants to herd animals to earn money to support his ministry.

"I said to this young man, "If I should ever want to change careers and become a herdsman, what would I have to do?" Without missing a beat, he said I would have to love the sheep, serve the sheep, and persevere to see my efforts' fruit.

Another young student in his early 20s was a street boy from about seven till age 11. He lived off garbage dumps. There was no one to take care of him; he was totally on his own. Today he's a strong man of faith, has a wife and children, and is determined to do great things under God's direction to advance the kingdom.

The Monday after graduation, we went to see some Caverns. After completing our tour, I proposed a contest.

I said they should compose an instant message: they were shepherds on the hillside, heard the angels, and saw the baby, Jesus. They should compose a text to their friends who had not been there. The first prize would be $10, and the second and third prices would be five dollars each. This is the amount of money I still had in my wallet.

The first-place winner was the young man from Maasai who had almost been killed by his father. When he saw that he had won the first prize of $10, he began to leap, which people from his tribe are known for. He jumped for joy!

A young man named Peter won second place. He was delighted as the five dollars would help get his way back to Kenya, where he was from.

The third prize winner was a young man who had been the street boy. When he saw that he had won five dollars, he let out a whoop and took a lap around the parking lot. I asked someone if that was that for real, and he said: "absolutely, five dollars is more than a day's wages," and he was overjoyed at the favor God gave it to him.

The Bible says to give thanks in every situation.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.
2 Corinthians 1:3-5

These young people give God great thanks for his salvation and destiny. For everyday blessings, for enough money, for another day of resources to support their ministries.

Please pray for these people; they labor under significant restraints, but they make decisions based on God's bank account, not their own. May their tribe increase!

As God directs you in giving monthly support, know that a little goes a long way here in Tanzania.

As I reflect on my experience with these young men and women, the joy of winning five dollars or $10 is excellent, but the joy of their salvation is so much greater. Worship services are intense and involve shouts of joy and thanksgiving and praise and dancing before the Lord.

Worship Involves the total being in gratitude and worship with confidence that God is moving powerfully in them and through them.

They act like what they are: sons and daughters of the Most High.

Now, that's amazing!

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