My Little Brother
Adventist Youth Ministry (AYM) and I go way back. I started as an Adventurer and kept getting bigger uniforms until I became a Master Guide.
My name is Pastor Goa Adeniran, and I work in the student development department at Babcock University. Several years ago I realized that there was a need for more helpers in our AYM program on campus. I’d received so much from being a member of AYM through the years that I wanted to give something back. I signed up to be a Pathfinder instructor and began the rewarding process of impacting young lives with God’s love.
One of those people was a Pathfinder named Mustapha.* He was about 15 and worked for a bricklaying company in our capital city of Lagos. I had a friend who worked at the same place, so I saw Mustapha often and always tried to chat with him a few minutes.
One day someone asked who my young friend was. “Oh, that’s Mustapha, my brother,” I replied with an air of pride. I glanced at Mustapha to see his reaction, and the boy was beaming.
From then on, Mustapha told everyone that I was his brother. It must have meant a lot to him, and I was glad he knew I cared.
Mustapha had many negative influences in his life, and I tried to keep him safe. Our friendship deepened, and he shared that he was addicted to smoking and alcohol. It’s common here to believe you need to drink and smoke to have power and be strong.
“Those habits will hurt you, Mustapha,” I warned. “I like you too much to see you destroyed.” I assured him that he didn’t need stimulants and used myself as an example. “I work just as hard as you, and I never touch those things,” I said. “There’s nothing you do that I can’t do too!”
Sometimes I wasn’t sure whether Mustapha was listening, but one day he told me that he had drunk his last drink and smoked his last cigarette. I praised God he was free.
Mustapha wasn’t a Christian. I wanted to talk to him about Jesus, but I wanted to do it in the right context. I wanted it to grow out of genuine concern for his health, family and quality of life. I wanted to form a relationship that was about reaching out in love and meeting his needs.
When Mustapha’s father died, it seemed that my little brother became a man overnight. He worked long hours to help support his family and was much more serious. I was proud of his growing sense of responsibility, but I missed the boy with the mischievous grin.
I continued to pray for Mustapha and did my best to be a consistent, positive male role model in his life. In the absence of his father, Mustapha needed a man to endorse him in order to open a bank account and get a job. I tried my best to fill in for his dad. I educated him in as many practical skills as I could to prepare him to succeed in life.
I haven’t had the privilege of bringing Mustapha to church, but I’ve had the joy of telling him about Jesus. I told him Christ loves every person who’s ever lived and that He died for each one, too. “You know what, little brother?” I asked. “ Everyone includes you.”
Mustapha was quiet for a minute and then looked up at me and smiled. “Can you get me a Bible, Pastor?”
The Thirteenth Sabbath Offering this quarter will help build a multipurpose facility for the large number of AYM members on our campus who currently have no place to worship, attend meetings, or host events.
Our AYM is crucial in helping us fulfill our mission to share the gospel with our non-Christian students and our neighbors in town who don’t know Jesus loves them. The new youth center will help us to train them for outreach and service. Please give generously this Thirteenth Sabbath. Thank you.
* Name has been changed.