When Amazima Ministries opened The Amazima School in 2017, we wanted to create a space where students would experience discipleship and mentoring through education in a way most of them had never experienced before. Forming intentional relationships with the students is a crucial piece of the mentoring program. These relationships allow the students to recognize that they are valued by a personal God who knows them best and loves them most.
When Thomas first came to The Amazima School, he was in a difficult place. He had grown up in an environment where he had no relationship with his mom and family. Thomas’ father had never been part of his life and he had many questions about what it meant to accept the grace and forgiveness God offers. Although Thomas’ mentors tried to engage him early on, he only became more hesitant in accepting their friendship. Thomas’ wounds toward people who tried to love him ran deep. His mentors were determined not to give up on him, not to stop loving him. They were patient in the pursuit of Thomas’ heart, trusting that God was loving Thomas right where he was at. Despite Thomas’ childhood not being ideal, God intentionally brought him to The Amazima School for a greater purpose.
It wasn’t easy for Thomas to hand over his life to Christ. He wrestled with questions. He struggled with vulnerability. He feared rejection. In spite of pressure from his father who tried to convince Thomas to convert to Islam or be forever shunned, Thomas chose to trust and accept the love of Christ. He knew that even if his earthly father rejected him, trusting in Christ meant he would always have a family of brothers and sisters, and a God who would never reject him. He became confident that God would not abandon him because of these newfound relationships that regularly modeled their commitment to Thomas. His mentors, teachers, campus pastors and brothers in his house stood by him and had expectant faith that God would captivate Thomas’ heart. Thomas chose to give his life to Christ and was baptized. Shortly after, Thomas’ mentors helped bridge the gap between Thomas and his family and were able to help him ease into a relationship with his mother that he once thought was impossible.
Thomas is part of a house of young men at The Amazima School known for their commitment to brotherhood. In the midst of the lockdown at the beginning of this year, when students were not able to be in school, Thomas very unexpectedly lost his mother and unborn sibling during a tragic labor and delivery situation. Immediately upon learning of the tragedy, all who had a relationship with Thomas stepped up in big and small ways to minister to Thomas and his family. From the moment his mother died, students from every class at The Amazima School mobilized themselves to be present for their brother. They showed up at his home. They cooked. They gathered firewood. They did laundry. They stayed with him and did not leave his side. Mentors, teachers and administrators assisted in any way possible to help ensure that Thomas could give his mother and unborn sibling a proper burial. After the burial, the family of one of Thomas’s classmates brought Thomas to stay in their home so he could recover from the shock of losing his mom. This family sat with Thomas in his grief and reminded him that he was not alone and would not be forgotten.
The relationships Thomas formed at The Amazima School not only transformed Thomas’ life in the sense of inviting him into a relationship with Christ but also revealed to him that people care and that he was worthy of being cared about. He experienced this care through intentional engagement at school, discipleship at the houses, small groups on Wednesday nights, Sunday morning worship services, community service projects, morning devotions and a host of other avenues employed by those who deeply loved Thomas.
Relationships are key to discipleship at The Amazima School. Thomas has seen scripture come alive because of the relationships he has developed and the willingness others have to live out the gospel. God is writing His story in the lives of students and families through these connections everyday, and we are excited to witness the life changes He is creating through relationships.
“Bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ.”Galatians 6:2