I always found it funny and intriguing how God sets up the right scenarios for his people to reach out to the lost. If the person I was in high school had a glimpse into the person I am today, I could imagine myself completely rejecting it. I did not grow up religious, and I was directly and indirectly at times taught by my family to always question things (especially about religion). I could recount oodles of times being at the family table and the discussion of Christianity being reduced to a man-made tradition. My viewpoint on Christianity was also skewed from my grandfather. Because my great grandmother died when my grandfather was 18 years, this greatly scarred him and he chose not to believe in God because he could not understand. “…why God would take my mother’s life?” All of these components influenced my perception and made me an unpaid deconstructionist of God and his word during my adolescent years. These words are not to scold my family, for I am truly grateful for them. They have taught me great values of family and relationships, integrity, barbequing, and fighting with an indomitable spirit, but the most important need – my spiritual needs – were not nurtured.

Larry practices Taekwondo!

I did not know much about spirituality, and I oddly enough found myself getting into Buddhism and Yogic philosophy when I was in high school. You might ask, why Buddhism, why eastern philosophy? I would have told you at the time that it looked cool and that Buddhists were the most peaceful people I had ever met! So, I started purchasing various books and made efforts to immerse myself into the philosophy. Around my senior year, I recall there being a lot of stressors such as parents changing jobs and applying for college and scholarships. I was so determined to make sure that my parents would not have to sacrifice financially for my education, and so I applied to over 80 programs to get a hand full of scholarships. I remember getting a scholarship from the Baltimore Ravens, and 4 other scholars and I from the 2014 Cohort, were honored on live TV in front of 50,000+ people at the M&T Bank Stadium during the Ravens football game. I remember waving into the camera and having this thought of “well that was not as fulfilling as I thought” I had gotten into my dream school, and receive enough scholarships to help out my family while they were transitioning jobs and yet that was not enough for me to be fulfilled.

‘What do workers gain from their toil? I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.’

Ecclesiastes 3:9-11 (NIV)

By the time I started school in fall 2014, I truly believed that God allowed me to experience those successes to see how futile it was to base my entity and worth on those things. Psalm 119:1-2 says it best that “…Blessed are those whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the Lord…” When Michael Sesay had invited me to a bible discussion, I was skeptical of it because of my background, but I recall the discussion being about space and creation – and I love astronomy. From there I started learning about God and some hard truths. Even though I made efforts to live a good moral life, I still did not have a relationship with God. And that my sins of impurity, deceit, idolatry of eastern philosophy and successful people, laziness, and people-pleasing all destroyed my true humanity and separated my walk with God. I was hesitant to become a Christian because I knew that it would be extremely challenging, but I learned so much about the bible and had my burning questions being answered in a few days. I came to the conclusion that I had to change. Glory be to God, on October 5th 2014, I was baptized into God’s kingdom!

Larry Davis gets baptized on October 5th, 2014!

In the winter of 2015, I came to learn that one of my spiritual mentors had fallen away from the faith. Even though I did not want to admit it at the time, I was hurt and confused because I truly looked up to him and I had a hard time understanding why God would allow that to happen. I remember myself starting to close my heart to other brothers and sisters in Christ and also God because I did not want to be hurt like that again. Unfortunately, my lack of transparency to seek help in dealing with the hurt also crept into my schoolwork as I was taking challenging courses, and did not seek out the assistance that I needed. My arrogance and lack of openness particularly damaged my walk with God and also my life in general from 2015 to 2016.

“…But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins…”

2 Peter 1:9 (NIV)

Ultimately, I had forgotten that by becoming a disciple, I could no longer rely on my strength and wisdom and that I needed my brothers and sisters in the Lord to help me overcome challenges instead of dealing with them on my own. Unfortunately, it took me damaging relationships and losing my school scholarships to realize this.

Larry and his spiritual brothers in Christ!

The theme of 2017 was “Victorious” and the Lord had certainty gave me a victory of restoring my heart. The highlight of that year was baptizing a great friend of mine – Cornelius Griffith. However, I still needed to deal with the damage that my sin had cost. Even though I made significant progress in 2017 with my grades, my poor performance from 2015 to 2016 still weighed heavily. In the Spring 2018 term, I had to take the semester off, which was crushing for me. I remember during this point, I sadly counted the cost of walking away from God. I felt like Elijah in 1 Kings 19, where he says to God, “I have had enough, Lord…Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors…” I am extremely grateful for Dale Bryant, Chris Bradley, Olajide Olagunju, Shane Fisher, Stephen Raman, Joshua Galindo, LuJack Martinez, Bryan Williams, Herbert Johnson, Steve Droblas, Sterling Swann, Sanmi Jinadu and other brothers and sisters for encouraging me during those tough times.

“Then he went on alone into the wilderness, traveling all day. He sat down under a solitary broom tree and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life, for I am no better than my ancestors who have already died.””

1 Kings 19:4 (NIV)

Since that Spring Term 2018, I have seen God work in some very mysterious ways, that has been so faith building and encouraging. Despite my sin, God opened up doors for me to get back in school, travel to the Bahamas and Brazil to do environmental research (which I enjoy!) and given me the opportunity to work as a project manager at the University of the District of Columbia in the 2019 summer term. More importantly, God has increased my faith and compassion for the lost and using me to help Avery Brown and Riley Simpson to come to Christ. I still look back at these events and awe about how sovereign the Lord is over our circumstances.

Larry with his Bible open at the ‘Christ the Redeemer’ statue in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil!

When I share my testimony with my colleagues at school, sometimes I’ll get the question of “was it worth it the struggle?” And sometimes I still wrestle to answer that question, but I think of Joseph’s response to his brothers “…God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives…” (Genesis 50:20). It is my hope and prayer that my testimony of weaknesses and shortcomings, sin and downright foolishness will further elevate the glory of the Lord! Amen.

“…God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives…”

Genesis 50:20 (NIV)