Doing Good for Others

by Wilona Karimabadi

Toson Knight had a pretty tough life when he was a boy. He says he was kicked out of 13 different schools, starting with preschool! Toson also lived in a pretty tough area of Detroit, Michigan, and many of the kids he grew up with also had many struggles.

However, someone that made a difference in Toson’s life was his grandma. She encouraged him to attend church and get to know God. He attended Peterson-Warren Academy, an Adventist school near his home, and even though he had some initial struggles there, the experience was a good one for him. Teachers who prayed for him and cared about him made a difference, and once he graduated, he was able to attend Oakwood University. While visiting the campus before graduation, Toson received the horrible news that one of his good friends had been killed back in Detroit. At that moment he just knew that God had plans for him to attend Oakwood and have a chance at a better life.

When he graduated from Oakwood, despite having a few job offers that would have paid him well, he remembered something that had been taught to him while he was at the university—the importance of giving back. For Toson, that meant that he needed to return to Detroit and see how he could help his community and other young people like him. Funny enough, he found a job at one of the schools he’d been kicked out of so many years before. But this time he was able to use his experiences to help kids who were struggling, just as he had been.

In time Toson started an organization called Caught-Up. This group helps young people in the prison system learn skills to help them start a good life when they are eventually released. Toson talks to kids who attend and helps them see possibilities for going to college and getting good jobs. On Saturday nights Caught-Up hosts basketball and food evenings, where kids can get off the streets, have a little Bible study to close out the Sabbath, and then enjoy a fun activity.

Toson has gotten to be good friends with several of the young men who have come through the Caught-Up program, and a few of them have gone on to attend Oakwood University. Toson goes several steps further by taking a week off from his job to drive these boys to campus and help them get settled in to their dorm and new classes. For many, Toson is like a dad to them—even though he’s only 32!

When good things are given to you, God often asks us to spread that good to others. That is what Toson Knight’s life is about, and it’s a great example for all of us to follow, don’t you think?

—This was adapted from an article in the February 2019 edition of Adventist Review.