Persecuted But Not Forsaken

The day began like any other. Moses Paulo ran through the forest with his friends, joking and laughing as they gathered fruit for their families. How could they know years would pass before they saw their homes again? Vans screeching through the trees ravaged the quiet. Men erupted from the vans and charged toward the boys. Moses dropped his fruit and turned to flee, but hands grabbed him and shoved him roughly into a van. The men jammed thirty boys into the vans before careening away. 

Questions jostled through Moses’ mind. Would the men beat him, force him to work, sell him into slavery? He never suspected the van raced toward a schoolhouse. Later, Moses learned the Tanzanian government pleaded for years with the Hadzabe people to send their children to school. Moses’ people only fled deeper into the forest, determined to evade the outside world. When cajoling failed, the government captured the boys and forced them to attend school. Moses graduated secondary school before returning to his family. 

 “I did not come back the same,” Moses admitted. “I was exposed to a lot of new ways of living and viewing life that my community would never comprehend.”

Life in the Hadzabe camp no longer satisfied Moses. He felt bored and restless, desperate to earn money so he could live a different life. One day while selling honey in town, he met a man who seemed more interested in him than in his honey.

“He wanted to hear my story,” Moses marveled. “I think no one rejects love. I felt valued.” 

The man welcomed Moses home for meals whenever he came to town. Before long, he also invited Moses to the church he pastored. 

“The gospel was preached about one true God,” Moses said. “This touched my heart and convicted me to make up my mind about faith in Christ Jesus.”

But accepting Christ only seemed to make Moses’ life harder. “You are a non-Hadzabe!” his people told him as they kicked him out of the camp. He hid in the forest and worried about his mother. She faced two choices—pressure Moses to recant or denounce him as her son. Otherwise, the people would kick her out, too. 

Moses fled to his pastor’s house, where wide-open arms welcomed him as a son. Wrapped in his second family’s love and acceptance, Moses began praying for his people, especially his mother. 

“I wanted to be restored to my people,” Moses said. “I went several weeks fasting and praying for peace between me and my family.”

Moses’ prayers infused his mother with courage to confront her people. She reminded them how some Hadzabe youth assimilated to different cultures or even married women from other tribes. No one excommunicated them. If the tribal leaders refused to let her son come home, she would leave the camp herself. Daunted by her boldness, the leaders relented.

Moses’ friends began looking for him everywhere. Overjoyed to find him at last, they brought him home to reconcile with his people. The camp eventually settled back into its normal routine, but his friends noticed a striking change in Moses. His peaceful, loving attitude intrigued them so much they sneaked away to attend church with him. When they, too, accepted Christ, no one in the camp persecuted them. 

Since then, Moses not only planted a church but also a preschool—the first school ever for the Hadzabe people! 

“I want to bring my people to Christ,” Moses declared

 

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