Funny how some childhood memories hang around for decades. One Saturday in 1964 while watching the Giants with my dad, Jesus Alou stepped into the batter’s box. As Matty and Felipe’s younger brother approached the plate, “Jesus Alou” flashed at the bottom of our black-and-white screen.
“Isn’t life tough enough?” I thought, “Why in the world would anybody name their kid Jesus?” I asked my dad. He explained that the Alou brothers were from the Dominican Republic and Jesus is a derivative of Joshua, not an uncommon name in Spanish.
James E. Talmage wrote in his classic work Jesus the Christ, “He was called Jesus, which, being interpreted is Savior; the name was rightfully His for He came to save the people from their sins.”
A few months ago, a worker at our seven-flat complex introduced himself as “Saviour.”
I thought, “Well, that is an unusual name.” I checked around with some of our Zambian missionaries and learned that although not common, parents will sometimes name their child Saviour, especially if they are born on or near Dec. 25.
Our new friend’s name is a little different and he is a unique individual. Saviour grew up in a Zambian Central Province village where he lived a middle-class lifestyle. Unfortunately, his mother passed away when he was at the early age of three, but his father provided for the family as a medical clinic officer. However, when he was 10, his father became ill and then passed away. One of his two sisters died one year later. He lived with his aunt for a few years before being forced to survive on the streets of the city of Lusaka.
Like a large percentage of the population here, he rents a small room (less than 400 square feet) in a crowded neighborhood. His bike serves as his mode of transportation.
The money he earns at our flat complex opening and closing the entrance gate, caring for the green space, and sweeping the walkways is meager by most standards. But he persists through life with a bright smile and a positive attitude.
After graduating from high school, Saviour applied several times for a sponsorship at a technical college in downtown Lusaka. He fully understands that an education with marketable skills opens doors of opportunities.
While his friends gave up and drifted to alcohol and drugs, Saviour’s persistence paid off. After three years, someone recognized his potential. He now pursues an information technology diploma from Evelyn Hone College of Applied Arts and Commerce.
We shared the message of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ with Saviour.
On New Years Day, we were greeted with this WhatsApp message:
With a colorful Happy New Year photo at the top, he wrote “May the Grace of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you Elder Roberts.”
To which I replied, “Thank you dear Saviour. We are so grateful to have you in our lives.”
He responded, “You’re the greatest thing that have ever happened in my life. Your Love, Support, and Care I receive from you keeps my hope alive and believing that indeed there’s a God. I will always forever Cherish all the days of my life. May God Almighty sustain our lives for my sake too.
“And thank you for introducing me to the Book of Mormon.”
I told Janna afterward that if this were the only spiritual experience of our mission, it makes this time away from our family and dear friends worth every second.
Charlie Roberts and his wife Janna are currently serving in the Zambia Lusaka Mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.