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Stanley, like many men in East Africa, had a very rough upbringing. His mother was a brewer and his dad was an alcoholic, so his home life centered around illegal alcohol. As Stanley grew up, his drinking increased, and everyone around him enabled him. His mother would pay him to help around the farm so that he could buy alcohol. He even surrendered himself to the police at times because he knew they would give him the alcohol they had collected from brewers.

Then one fateful day, Stanley got so drunk that he fell asleep next to a fireplace in a brewing den. In his drunken stupor, he rolled up against the metal frame of the fireplace, and his legs and stomach were severely burned. When he awoke and saw, he didn’t care because he was so drunk. Soon Stanley’s wounds began to get infected because he did not seek proper treatment, but still, he only thought about how to get his hands on more alcohol. So Stanley approached his sister-in-law, a brewer, with an idea: if he brought more customers to her brewing den, would she give him free changaa? They had a deal. But Stanley’s burns became so badly infected that he couldn’t stand or walk, so he crawled along the roadside trying to convince people to go to her place to buy alcohol. Eventually, the pain became so unbearable that he wanted to die. His sister-in-law had heard of a training center where alcoholics could go for rehab. Stanley was so desperate that he agreed to go, but only if she gave him a bottle of changaa to ease his pain for the journey.

He arrived at the Ilula Training Center with a group of other alcoholics looking for help. He was dirty, with long unkempt hair, torn clothes, and very infected wounds. Dennis, a staff member at the ELI Training Center, took him to a barbershop, bought him new clothes, and got him showered and cleaned up. Samuel, another ELI staff member, took Stanley to the hospital when his infection clearly wasn’t healing. Ultimately he was transferred to a clinic where he stayed until his body healed. Even though everyone that he arrived with had already graduated and gone back home, Stanley stayed the course and got sober.

After he was fully recovered, it was time to go back to real life. Samuel, Dennis, and some reformed brewers accompanied him to a large church gathering where he gave his testimony. Stanley had told Samuel that he wanted to go to Bible college, so they asked the church if they were willing to support him in this endeavor. As the council discussed this possibility, Stanley overheard them ask how a recovered drunkard of Ilula could go to Bible college while church council members had children who had not been given the opportunity to go to college. Stanley was hurt, but Dennis and Samuel encouraged him to have faith that God would open a way for him to get to Bible college.

Later, the church was holding council elections to select the next chairman, and since Stanley had just been baptized, he was now eligible to vote with them. He was very honored to be a part, but sadly, Stanley learned that the church council members were corrupt. Apparently they only allowed him to be baptized because they needed an extra vote to oust a current member and replace him with a preferred candidate. Stanley was shocked and upset and did not know what to do. He turned to God and asked for strength and for words to answer the council. God put Titus 1:6-8 on Stanley’s heart, and he decided to ask them a simple question: “What are the qualities of a good church leader?” He also encouraged them to read the passage and meditate on what good character means for a church leader. Stanley shared these verses with the Women of Change and the other people in his village, and when election day came, he urged them to vote for the person that they felt was best suited for the job, undeterred by the threats of the council members.

This and many other instances show the radical transformation that God brought about in Stanley’s life. But not everyone was happy with these changes and all the good Stanley was doing in his village. Certain family members who still brewed felt betrayed and bitter because they were losing business due to Stanley’s efforts. They began to hate him so much that he feared they would try to poison him if he went to visit. However, Stanley’s mother and some recovered alcoholics are thrilled to see the incredible transformation; this is what keeps him going. And because God has done such powerful work, great things are happening as well! Stanley was selected to be an usher at his church, and he has shared his story with many other alcoholics who are following in his footsteps. Stanley is being recognized for the dramatic change in his life: one day after church, people began flocking toward him and cheering because this previously well-known drunkard was now well-dressed and sober! Stanley is so excited about this new chapter in his life, and he desires to reach as many people as possible, help them recover, and show them the love of God.

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