This week’s #StoriesofLoveComing focuses on individuals who have brought love into their communities as evangelists and those who have been instrumental in bringing people to faith. Luis is only 24 but leads groups of young people at Yohanna Abdullah in Lichinga whilst running his own small market stall in his district, Sanjala.
Luis was born in Metangula on the Lakeshore (about 2 hours drive from Lichinga and 20 minutes from Messumba) where he lived till school age. His father, Vicente, died suddenly in 2002 at the age of 52 of the leaving 7 children with Cristina, Luis’ mother (traditionally married to Vicente for 25 years). Luis is the oldest son, so he is responsible for the lives of his siblings, especially for school fees. There are 4 siblings in school and one of those (a 12 year brother) lives with him in Luis’ two roomed mud-and-thatch house, just 100 m from the bishop’s house. All the others live with his mother.
When his father died, Luis dropped out of school for almost a year, but it was his participation in the ‘Rooted in Jesus’ discipleship course at the church that kept him ‘on track’. He was confirmed and then was asked to be an acolite (becoming the President of the group) which he remained until 2011. His ability to teach was recognized by the parish priest, Padre Luis, who asked him to train the confirmation candidates with ‘Rooted in Jesus’, which he has continued to do ever since, with enormous success and great popularity. In 2011, he prepared 120 confirmees; in 2012, 80; and in 2013, a total of 268 in three confirmation services! In a country that the UNHCR declares 50% as below the age of 18 years, the church is reflecting that environment, and Luis works hard to make this happen. He feels valued in this mentoring role and calls the ‘confirmees’ his ‘little brothers and sister.’ Some of Luis’ older confirmees have remained together as a Bible study group with him, a source of further support: 12 16-22 year olds study the Bible and ‘share their experiences’ weekly, meeting mainly at the church as most of them still live with their parents/families.
Life is tough for this young Christian man. Luis makes ends meet in various ways with all his responsibilities. He has worked briefly with a local association (‘Kwimuka’, which means ‘Awake’ in Yao, the language of the 40% or so of Lichinga’s traditionally Muslim population) working in the schools in the area of HIV/AIDS, but says he was only paid 3,000 meticais (100 USD) every three months for this. It was a help to receive the payment quarterly as it helped him save to start up his little ‘baraca’ (stall) in the ‘bairro’ selling biscuits, oil and some fruits. His baraca brings in about 3,000 mts (£33) per month, which is “much better”. His commitment to church and young people has perhaps helped him avoid many distractions that takes young people ‘off track’, and he enjoys seeing confirmees changed by ‘Rooted in Jesus’.
Luis shows where his strength lies when he describes his beloved church and thanks “God for illuminating his life as his all and everything!”
Luis talks honestly and maturely about his faith; feeling like he lost his life at his father’s death and yet knowing that God loves him and protects him. He doesn’t believe he could’ve managed to do what he has by 22 years old if he “hadn’t seen God with him.” He prays a lot that he “won’t be abandoned in the fire” and that he’ll “embrace/hold on to God” so that his responsibilities don’t overwhelm him. He knows the importance of wise friends around him, part of the church community and that this is needed by all young people in his living circumstances. And that same community will be the means of peace for their lives and their country. He is a man of deep vision, sacrificially working for the common good. A disciple of Christ who finds their hope in the church.
We thank you for the incredible example of Luis. We pray that he will stay faithful to You regardless of what happens in his life. Continue to give him opportunities to be Your light in this community.