Set on fire at 12 years old, still burning today
I was born into a Christian family. I have a vivid memory of giving my life to Jesus in family devotions at age 7. I knew I was a Christian. I identified as same, but found myself continuously going to the altar and praying the sinner’s prayer for years to follow.
My parents had great faith, my father, a full time minister with Jamaica Youth For Christ at the time, but my faith, my personal faith was still tender. Arriving green in grade 7, I felt a desire to redefine myself, fit in with a cooler crowd. I developed a love for basketball; but with that came a particular influence, a character profile which was appealing, rebellious and strong.
I could feel myself being assimilated and I liked it. I could hear the curse words in my head, soaked in from much time on the court with a group of guys as expressive as they were talented. It matched well with this anger I seemed cloaked in, directed at my father, whose standards seemed too high to ever attain.
Add to the equation the blooming of the young ladies around, whether my eyes were unveiled or they truly bloomed I may never know, and you can understand the forces were stacked against me. Conditions were set for a pleasure seeking, people pleasing, redefining drift from God; a God I knew theoretically but not so much experientially.
So strong was the force of attraction to my blooming 13 year old counterparts that I began to recognize that if I really liked one, I would observe what she seemed to like in a guy and would take on the ‘desirable’ persona myself. While all these things glittered before me by day, my family still had daily devotions by night, where my younger brother and I would be active participants in reading and interpreting the Word of God and in times of prayer as well.
In October 2003, while in grade 8, I received a special invitation to an extra-curricular meeting at school, where there was going to be a vibrant speaker and panel discussion. More than the actual event being promoted, the fact that the letter was addressed to “Mr. Daniel Thomas” was very appealing. I attended the Inter School’s Christian Fellowship (ISCF) meeting and enjoyed it thoroughly.
I was completely unaware that my father had encouraged the staff sponsor for the Christian club to reach out to me, a fact he admitted years later. I decided to attend the December camp that year and had the experience of a lifetime.
Never before had I really been exposed to such a group of passionate young people who genuinely loved the Lord, loved the Word and who were also fun, cool and admirable. I formed friendships that have lasted almost decades now. But what happened to me, in me, independent of anyone else, changed my life forever.
One night as I reflected on the messages preached and the camp itself, I began to hear the Lord speaking to me. He said, the same way I would like a girl in my class and would study her and become what she liked, was the same way He wanted me to treat Him; to study Him and become what He liked.
In a moment of comforting, exhilarating and inexplicable certainty, the Lord challenged me to pursue Him. I accepted the challenge. He said I should stop caring what others thought, and called me to live fearlessly for Him. I responded with an emphatic ‘YES’. I committed, at 13 years old, to radically love the Lord and to forsake people pleasing; instead living boldly as a God-pleaser, no matter how crazy that kind of obedience would look.
If He wanted me to jump, my question would only “how high?”. This encounter with the Lord, His call and my responding commitment revolutionized my life. I was set on fire for Jesus. I returned to class at the end of Christmas holidays a bold and passionate believer. My faith had come alive to living form.
I preached to my class, I preached to my basketball team, I evangelized on the road, preached on the bus, sharing the love of Jesus and calling people to give their lives to Him. I wanted to grow, to understand the Word, to memorize it and have it ready in my heart. I pursued the Lord in personal times of worship and devotions, my hunger for Jesus could not be satisfied.
A desire to serve
I began to pray for God to use me, to speak clearly to me regarding His mission for my life, or even just the next step. I soon found myself on, Ardenne’s, my high school’s ISCF committee and the Kingston Regional ISCF committee.
I led Ardenne’s ISCF in 2006, while captaining the basketball team and would later serve as co-president of Regional ISCF as well. Heading to the University of the West Indies after graduating high school, I accepted the call to be a missionary to the campus. I preached everywhere I could.
I would run into a class before the lecturer arrived and preach the gospel in one minute. A few times I announced in a popular fast food restaurant on campus a public service announcement about a virus that was on the loose, that virus was sin and Jesus is the only cure! I would walk around evangelizing to persons with a white shirt wrapped on one hand and a black shirt on the next, preaching about the wages of sin and the gift of God, asking young adults if they were ready for eternity.
The desire to please Jesus, raged as a fire inside me. I soon led the University College’s Christian Fellowship (UCCF) on that campus and mobilized campus wide evangelism, ministry on hall’s of residence and nurtured a culture of family and dedication to the Word. In my last months as President of UWI UCCF, I began to hear the Lord calling me to stand on a national platform to represent His heart for Jamaica, especially as it relates to sexual purity and the family.
Myself and a few other young believers formed the Love March Movement, which I currently lead, advocating for godly laws and empowering young people to walk in and stand for sexual purity. We have hosted marches, presented in parliament, written over 80 letters to local newspapers, ministered to thousands of young people and opposed the evil agenda of the enemy in different spheres.
I continue to live fearlessly for God, not watching the faces of men. David has captured my persistent cry in Psalm 18:28 he said “Oh Lord, Keep my lamp burning”.
Dr. Daniel Thomas is a medical doctor and Christian Advocate who loves the Lord deeply. He is married to Grace-ann Thomas the love of his life and currently leads a youth organization called the Love March Movement; which is committed to empowering the youth to fight for sexual purity and the family in Jamaica.