Jesus’ Transforming Power, Part 2

Fred Coker

February 1st, 2018 @ 1:56 pm

The story of Tamba Joseph Iffono continues.

From Part I: Curious, I accepted my friend Victor’s invitation to visit the Adventist church. Early Saturday morning, I got up, ate my unclean meat, took a shower and got ready. Thoughts spun in my head. I wanted to back out of the invitation, but I breathed a short prayer asking God to save me and my friend from this satanic trap. Then I gathered my courage and headed for the Adventist church.

I was the first visitor to arrive at church that Sabbath morning. My friend Victor, who had been waiting impatiently for me at the gate, welcomed me. He was very happy to see me. I was surprised at how happy everyone else seemed, too. They greeted me with smiling faces. After Sabbath School classes, the visitors were asked to stand up and introduce themselves. To my great surprise, Uncle Fred called me up and gave me a brand-new Bible. “This is to show how much we appreciate your coming,” he said, “especially for being the first visitor to arrive to church today. Each time you want to read your Bible, please pray first and ask God to help you understand His message for you.”

It was the first Bible I had ever owned. From that day on, I took it with me everywhere I went. I decided to read it from cover to cover. After a short prayer for understanding, I began to read it that Sabbath afternoon. As I continued to read, many of my doubts evaporated, and my way of looking at things began to change. The story of Noah in Genesis 6-10 was mind-blowing to me. It opened the door of my heart to Christ. I read that story 10 times before continuing to other chapters. I saw myself as one of the lost people in Noah’s time who did not heed Noah’s message despite his pleading.

By this time, I was working in the village of Foriforiya as a gardener. Every night, I would avoid all distractions and find a quiet place to read my Bible by the light of a hurricane lamp. The villagers noticed many changes in my behavior, and they wanted to know what I was reading every night in the black book. I told them this black book was the Holy Bible, and it was filled with wonderful stories. Someone suggested that I tell them a story from it, so I told them the story of creation. After that, anytime I was in the village, people would urge me to tell a story from my black book.

When I reached Leviticus chapter 11 about clean and unclean animals, resistance and rebellion rose up in my heart, and for the first time in three weeks, I put down my Bible. This is going too far! I said to myself. I began to argue in my thoughts. Didn’t Jesus himself say, “It is not what goes into your mouth that defiles you?” I love eating what I hunt. It is very fulfilling to me to eat the fruit of my labor. It is also a source of income so I can buy seeds and tools to do my gardening. I yielded to the argument in my head and concluded that I would stop reading the Bible.

Before reading Leviticus 11, I would hunt every animal I could. Squirrels, rats, birds, iguanas, snails, monkeys, and many more were delicacies to me. I hunted them to the point that it became an addiction. I was a bloodthirsty carnivore. But now when I went out hunting, very strange things began to happen. When I was out in the bush, no animals would cross my path. Even when I went hunting at night, when I used to have so much success, now I would come back with no game. I began to seriously pray and ask God about this phenomenon.

One morning, I visited Victor and asked him what food had to do with salvation. Victor laughed. “Come to our Bible study group this evening. There is a young pastor who will help you understand more of what you are reading in the Bible. He can answer all of your Bible questions.” I accepted the offer and went to the group that evening. It was very interesting. There were about seven people including myself. I went home after the Bible study with mixed feelings. I was sure I could find answers there, but I hadn’t intended to be part of a group.

Back at home, I picked up my Bible and went back to the beginning. This time, I wrote down every question that occurred to me as I read so that I could bring them to the study group. After attending the group a few more times, I decided to become a regular member. It was one of the best decisions I have ever made. All of my questions were answered biblically and logically. Sometimes I would ask questions just to stir up arguments, but then the transforming power of Christ began to take hold of me. I started looking at things from the biblical point of view, very differently from before. I stopped arguing and avoided any religious debate that didn’t glorify God. I began to reverence the name of God and His Son Jesus. I began to admire every living thing and treated them with kindness and respect. I believe heaven was rejoicing, and so were the animals in the bush around Fria, which I used to hunt so mercilessly. Many changes took place in my life as I began to think about Jesus’ second coming. I gave my life to Him and was baptized. I no longer hunt or eat unclean animals. I am no longer their enemy but their friend. I imagine that all the animals praise God for my conversion!

My family and friends began to notice the changes in my life. Some were happy, but others were not. My uncle had mixed feelings. He was happy to see that I was devoted to reading my Bible and that I had stopped smoking and drinking. Yet he was not happy that I wouldn’t work on the Sabbath or hunt or eat unclean food. He began to make things difficult for me. Sometimes when I came home, the family would have no food for me. When I asked about it, they would tell me they had made something unclean. Praise God, my church family was there to support me. Often I ate with Uncle Fred, the pastor, Victor or other church members. I never went to bed hungry. My God is good all the time!

After my baptism I began to take service for God seriously. I joined the church choir and volunteered to be the school janitor. I wanted to be around my church family and help in any way possible. After three months of my volunteering, Uncle Fred asked the school to begin paying me for my work. With this income, I moved out of my uncle’s house and rented a place of my own.

Because of my new faith, all of my family members avoided me and left me alone. But in my church I found new brothers, sisters, uncles, aunties, mothers and fathers.
One Sabbath evening as I was reading the book of Luke, someone stopped by to tell me that my uncle had gotten sick earlier that week and was in the hospital. I didn’t care. I was angry at my uncle and his family for spreading rumors about me and my new faith. But that evening, Luke 6:20-36 hit me very hard. Weeping, I went to my knees and asked God to forgive me for my attitude and give me the strength to go to the hospital and visit my uncle.

The next morning I went to the hospital. There I learned that my uncle had been sent home because he couldn’t afford his treatment. Returning to my home, I collected all the money I was saving for gardening tools and went to my uncle’s house. Everyone was surprised to see me. There was no food for the family that day, so I gave my aunt some money. Then I took my uncle to the hospital for treatment. What I had was not enough, but Uncle Fred contributed the rest. Because of this, my family opened their hearts again to me.

Jesus came into my life and changed it. Thank you, Father, for finding me and making me what I am today.

Brother Tamba is very involved with church activities and loves to share his testimony. He is now in training to become a full-time teacher at our school. Please pray for him as he searches for a Christian wife.