Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
– Ephesians 4:32
James and Samwel are young men living on the streets of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. James sleeps in a cardboard box hidden in the bushes along a busy street. Samwel has a favorite sign post near a quiet alley where he settles down each evening. Both teens are part of a street outreach program that provides for the physical and spiritual needs of those living on the streets of the city. Each afternoon, people from a nearby church bring tea and food for the young men. While they eat and relax, the boys listen to God’s Word on a Proclaimer the church group brings with them.
Some days, the teens wash cars to make extra spending money. One hot afternoon, a man brought his car to be cleaned and the boys hoped he would pay well. He sat on a nearby bench and began using his cell phone while they worked. A few minutes later, the man called to James. He explained that he had run low on minutes and asked if the teen would take some money and buy him some minutes at a drugstore around the corner. James willingly took the money, about $5, and headed toward the store. As soon as he was out of sight, he ran to find a couple of friends. “Look what I found,” he told them. “Let’s go get something to eat!”
When James did not return, the man was very upset. He pressed the boys who had washed his car to get the name of the young man who took his money. “That was James,” Samwel told him. James was furious when he learned that Samwel had given the man his name and hit him on the head with a piece of iron pipe to get even.
Samwel was so badly hurt that it took six stitches to close the wound on his head. Later that evening, sitting around Samwel’s favorite post, his friends urged him to seek revenge. But Samwel responded, “We’ve been listening to the radio [Proclaimer], and it said we must forgive. It would be wrong to hurt James because he hurt me. I choose to forgive him.”
When his friends heard this, they asked, “Then, can we take your revenge? You have to do something!”
“No! It is wrong to seek revenge,” Samwel said adamantly. “The right thing to do is forgive him.” James had been hiding nearby, but the words of forgiveness touched his heart so much that he risked making his presence known. He walked past the other teens, stopped, knelt down and hugged Samwel. “Thank you for forgiving me,” he said humbly. “I forgive you, too!”
We are thankful for church partners like Mount Calvary Lutheran Church (Grants, NM), Delmar Wesleyan Church (Delmar, MD), First Baptist Church (Elgin, TX), True Vine Church (Goldsby, OK), United Methodist Church Monroe (Monroe, WI), and many others for partnering with us to help James, Samwel, and many like them find the power of real forgiveness through hearing the Word of God in their heart language.