I toddled down the loam footpath, hand in hand with the dark skin that juxtaposed my beet red palms. A cacophony of voices wailed “bebe, bebe” in hopes I would hold them tight in my arms, in hopes I would show them love. Countless children leeched on to my arms and legs as if I was a life raft plopped into the thrashing sea. The older girls, however, gave me the most affectionate hugs. I could feel adoration and alleviation in those tender embraces. As we squeezed tighter and tighter, darkness jettisoned. Poverty’s bleakness, pain’s sting, brokenness’ torment could all be pacified through unity, though lovingkindness. I could not help but feel wholly unassuaged and altruistic toward the scene unravelling around me. These instances are the epitome of Changanyikeni, the mixed village. They are the epitome of Tanzania, Africa.
Notorious for their Islamic culture and deep-rooted Wiccan beliefs, the children’s’ love becomes dormant when faced with their religious norms. For example, some adolescents will remain nameless until their Muslim teacher remembers to give them one. Having not the most basic sense of identity remains synonymous to the witch doctor practicing fifteen years: both bitter and callous to a Savior. Examining the glazed amber fire sweltering in profound bewilderment, made me nauseous. The witch doctor occupied demons in his eye and in his life. He could not grasp his dire state, though he knew his faith was apocryphal, persisting to cajole a mindset antithesis of truth. But what caused such ambivalence? What could not be ameliorated?
In Tanzania, true Christianity is the light amongst a malevolent abyss; all else is undeniably forlorn. Tanzania’s Christ followers do not run-through nominal Christianity. No, rather they possess an atypical joy, urgency, and faith. They wonder where their water will come for that day; therefore, they pray earnestly for rain. With no earthly possessions to offer, they perceive the Lord’s goodness full heartedly. Fragmented circumstances make His love exclusively greater; that a Holy God would desire a poor African or a young American girl who once felt purposeless. My faith was restored in the simple Gospel: I was bought with a price, I have been called a daughter of the King, and my iniquity no longer consumes me.
I have adopted my passion, fine-tuned by the people of Tanzania, to love as Christ loves me. Faith is what is essential to my identify; my identity is found in Christ’s free gift of love so delightfully bestowed to me. My identity is in the glory and redemptive power in the One who died for me. What could I bring? What could a young man in Tanzania bring to a Holy God? Nothing. None of us can bring anything righteous before a Mighty throne. The single greatest sacrifice in human history; we can say that God is for us and there is peace beyond understanding to yield a life of fulfillment. There is a way of redemption.
My intense desire to know the Lord, to serve and fixate love; this is what defines me. I had to take myself halfway across the world to rekindle what I already knew, what I already had burning inside of me. The people, the love of Tanzania fuels my passion and cultivates challenges beyond my own doing. Encoded to love, to taste and to see, I will never find myself content with complacency. I will never find it in myself to be comfortable because the cries of the world are blaring, begging, and yearning. I am a catalyst for the Gospel of Christ. I crave the affinity for an infinite King.