Dreams come true! You can ask Joseph in the Bible, and you can ask me too. After applying and being accepted to study for a Bachelor of Theology degree at Andrews University in 2005, I was denied a student visa at the U.S. embassy in Kenya—twice! I was so discouraged that I cried and ran away from my home in Kenya. Without telling a soul—not even my family—I left for Tanzania.
While traveling on the bus on my way to Tanzania, my cell phone and the little money I had saved were stolen, and I was left penniless and hungry. I was ready to give up because nothing in my life seemed to be working out, but I did not want to die this way.
I prayed to God for help. “Lord, I have forsaken You many times, but please don’t forsake me. Amen.”
On that bus, God provided a good Samaritan to help me. I struck up a conversation with a Muslim man who was sitting next to me. He offered me some of the food he had bought and told me that we would be arriving in Dar es Salaam, the capital city of Tanzania, during the early hours of the morning.
The man learned of my plight, and after we arrived in Dar es Salaam he took me to his home and provided me with food and shelter for about two weeks while I searched for a job. He also helped me to contact my family. When I called my mom, she cried and pleaded with me to return home.
This man was like an angel to me. He helped me to realize that running away was not the solution to my problems. I decided to go back home. After I did, God worked on my heart and I recommitted my life to Christ.
God Has a Plan
When I was 7 years old, I experienced a near fatal accident when I fell from the terrace of a fourth-floor apartment my family was living in. The doctors thought I wouldn’t survive because of the severity of my injuries, but God saved my life.
Right after I fell, a neighbor rushed me to the hospital in his car. If he had not done that, I would have died. My mom also prayed for me, and when I recovered, she reminded me that God had saved me for a purpose.
Even at that young age I knew I wanted to be a pastor and serve God. I became very active in church and participated in the Adventurer and Pathfinder clubs. I was able to preach at our “mega” church of more than 3,000 members (then the largest church in Kenya) at the age of 15.
Because of peer pressure at the boarding school I was attending, however, I backslid from God. I became a DJ in a restaurant and started living a lifestyle that was not pleasing to the Lord. But He was patient and merciful to me.
The psalmist says, “Wait on the Lord!” (Ps. 27:14, NKJV).* I did wait on Him, but I soon realized that He had been waiting a long time for me. Jesus seemingly arrived four days late to help Lazarus, and He waited 15 years for me—but He is always on time!
Following God’s Leading
I graduated from Spicer Memorial College (now Spicer Adventist University) in Aundh, Pune, India, in 2014 and then went to serve as a missionary in the Philippines. There I met and married my wife, and we now have a son. I also served in South Korea and Laos, which totaled five years of missionary work.
I see grace and unconditional love written all over my story. That is why I stepped out in faith, left my work as a missionary teacher in Laos, and applied to study and fulfill my dream of becoming a better trained and more effective minister for Jesus.
I am now studying to earn Master of Divinity and Master of Social Work degrees at Andrews University. Fifteen years after submitting my first application to study at Andrews University, I am finally here at my dream school.
Never Give Up
My life experience has taught me to never give up on my dreams. Now I am realizing that God’s dream for my life is much bigger than Andrews University, and I am eager to see what else He has in store for this poor, sinful, backstreet boy who was once a DJ, a rapper, a runaway, and a backslidden missionary.
Although I have served God these past 10 years, I did not get rebaptized when I recommitted my life to Jesus. But on April 3, 2021, Pastor Rodley Ortiz baptized me at Pioneer Memorial Church in Berrien Springs, Michigan, United States.
I wonder what God still has in store for me and how my life and story can be a blessing to others.