Tausi: Runway Prayers from Tanzania's Model
By Jewel Graham
The 700 Club
When Tausi Likokola steps off the runway in her home country of Tanzania, there are hundreds of people there to greet her. The once awkward little girl who helped run the family restaurant now graces the cover of their magazines. Interestingly, Tanzania did not recognize the talents of the native born Tausi.
In Tausi's own words:
"In my country it was other ways - you have to have little more meat, and you have to be a little different. I had always been so skinny, and so tall and I would try to fit like other girls - I wanted to have more of a body, a figure; and I was different. So, when I came to Europe and people are saying, ‘oh you could model.’ It took me a really long time to understand what modeling is all about because in my country it’s a really new thing."
As unsure as she was about her body and the modeling industry itself, Tausi found purpose in this new adventure – immediately.
"The first job I had [modeling] was with a catalogue that works in so-called, the third world. People will use their hands to maybe make clothes, make jewelry. Then they will come and market them in Europe and will go back and help the people. So that was my very first job. So I was like, ‘oh there is a purpose in this.’ I was like, ‘OK, I’m done. I’ve taken the money and this is it.’ But they kept on coming back because the pictures were good, and they even had a story to tell behind me coming from those countries that they were helping."
Tausi had a story herself - at the age of three, Tausi’s mother died. Her grandmother raised her in a small town in Tanzania. From an early age, she got up at 4:00 a.m. to fetch water and open the family restaurant. Then, she attended church - all before the sun rose. Tausi said she knew how to pray, but that something was missing. She knew she was loved, but never felt accepted.
"It wasn’t until I was 16 years of age that my neighbors tell me about Jesus and a personal relationship. I actually started reading my Bible in order to challenge her; like you know, because she spoke about being with sin. I had really good points at school, good grades, and I thought I was a good girl. And so, for somebody to come and tell me you’re a sinner, it was like, ‘excuse me!’ And that’s when I started really realizing what the Bible’s all about and that Christ died for me and my sin."
Tausi’s newfound faith was essential when she left the country to attend a university in Finland. All of a sudden, she found herself alone.
"In Finland, you have to look for a church. You have to look for fellowship. I didn’t understand the language, Finnish, but I would sit in the church and pray."
A year later, in Germany, Tausi did her first photo shoot. She took a stand for her beliefs against her agency’s wishes. In spite of their discouragement, her career soared!!
"I was very, very specific about what jobs I should take. My agency was always telling me, 'you know, you’re putting so much "I can’t do this - I can’t do this," and in the fashion industry you can’t make it that way.' My faith was helping me and putting boundaries around me. I had to ask myself, ‘can I live with this? What is God’s word saying about it?’ If I don’t have peace in my heart about certain things, then I just don’t do it.”
Prayer was a constant connection to Christ for Tausi in such a rough industry.
"I would pray all the time. Even when I go to the runway, I will be backstage praying. I would pray when I don’t understand. I would pray when I am offered a job to do. I would pray all the time - when I’m happy, when I’m sad, I would pray. I could so much say that without faith, without that strong thing that I could hang on to, and hold it to, I would probably have lost it like everybody else that I’m seeing sometimes."
When everyone around her focused on outward beauty, Tausi leaned on God’s unconditional love.
"Knowing that I’m accepted into God’s family, whatever I have [helped her trust God]. In the fashion industry, some people want you would go to some other places - you are not skinny enough, and then you would go to other places - you are too skinny. You will go to places, they would want you to have an afro-do, hair-do. You would go to another place and they would want you to have straight hair. I mean, it’s so much strict, that if you focus on what people say about beauty you won’t be able to exist. The peace I have now; it’s just amazing. I’m saying, ‘God, thank you so much that I don’t have to strive for this.’"
After 12 years of modeling across the country, Tausi married and now spends her time raising two beautiful children. She takes these God-given principles to teenage girls around the world through speaking engagements, seminars and beauty brochures.
"We go to Proverbs 31 woman: read there and just define the worldly definition of beauty and what God says about beauty - that it will pass away. God has created you beautiful and unique in your own way. And be that way, because you cannot be Tausi, and you cannot be anybody else but you. You lift your life up because God has created you that way - beautiful. Look up unto Him and everything will be OK. People will disappoint you. Things, material will disappoint you. But God will never, never - and I mean never -disappoint you."
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