The Macedonian Call

The Macedonian Call

A Bible worker receives a call from a distant village.

“And a vision appeared to Paul in the night. A man of Macedonia stood and pleaded with him, saying, ‘Come over to Macedonia and help us.’ Now after he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go to Macedonia, concluding that the Lord had called us to preach the gospel to them.” Acts 16:9, 10.

“A few faithful missionaries are even now planting the standard of truth in fields far away. Publications are multiplying in many languages. These silent messengers are enlightening thousands. But as a people we come far short of moving forward as fast as the providence of God opens the way. Our General gives the command, ‘Go forward.’ Thousands are thirsting for living truth. The Macedonian cry is coming to us from every direction, ‘Come over and help us.’ We look about us, and inquire, ‘Who will go?’ O that every follower of Jesus might respond: ‘Send me. I long to do something for my Master.’” East Michigan Banner, September 29, 1909.

The weather was agreeable for travel when an old friend called me on my phone. “Brother,” I heard the familiar voice. “Come over to where I am living now.”

“What is your exact address?” I asked. “How far away are you?”

To reach the village where my friend lived, it would require three hours of driving by motorcycle, and then a hike into the mountains.

“Well,” I said to myself, “It is not too far.” I called my co-workers, who are more like brothers to me: Robeth Tambunan, Jun Salazar with his son Tonton, and
Brother Edgar Taborete. I invited them to join me on my journey.

After hearing my friend on the phone, I considered this a Macedonian cry for help from his mountain village. “I must answer the call,” I thought to myself. I packed up my generator, amplifier and sound box, tying them tightly to the back of my motorcycle.

After three hours of driving by motorcycle, we arrived at Proper Poblacion of T’boli. “If we stop in the village of Lamlait, we can safely leave our motorcycles there,” Brother Robeth suggested.

When we arrived in the village of Lamlait we did leave our motorcycles there. Datu, a friend in the next village, volunteered to bring some of the items we needed for preaching. He placed them on the back of his horse to carry.

It took three hours of hiking to reach the village of Damlas, where my old friend lived. I met the leader of that village, and began to explain our intentions.

“We belong to the Jesus Is Lord church,” the leader explained.

“Would it be okay if we preach in this village?” I asked.

He nodded his head yes. “We have been waiting so long to hear more messages from God.”

The meetings began. As we talked about the doctrines of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, interested glowed in the leader’s eyes.

“You know what, Temtem,” he approached me afterwards. “I know that your message is true, and I know Saturday is the true day to worship, because I can read
it in the Bible.”

How happy I felt to hear these words fall on my ears! How thankful I was to watch as the people accepted the messages of God.

Finally, an announcement was made in the village. “Our Jesus is Lord church is now a Seventh-day Adventist church, because this is the only religion that preaches the whole message of the Bible.”


Location: Philippines

Author: Temtem is a Bible worker in South Cotabato on Mindanao Island in the Philippines.

How You Can Help

Pray for the Holy Spirit to lead Temtem as he nurtures this new congregation far up in the mountains and that this new church will remain strong in the Lord.

Donate by sending your gift to Mission Projects International marked “Philippines” to:

Mission Projects International
PO Box 506
Republic, WA 99166-0506

For online options, visit: www.missionspro.org/donate


Joining a Church Under a Tree

God leads a hardened man to a true Christian church.

Frank Mutamba managed a successful local bank in the Central Kongo Province. He lived in the area of Muanda, a major urban town on the Atlantic coast, home to more than 500,000 people. He was a faithful member in good standing at his Baptist church, and felt pleased to see his family active in church life. Then one day, Frank learned that his wife had committed adultery with his Baptist pastor. He was very grieved.

In time, Frank divorced and remarried. His new bride was also member of the same Baptist church he had been attending. The previous pastor had been disfellowshipped, and life seemed to return to normal with new church leadership. But unfortunately, the new pastor sinned with the second wife of Frank Mutamba.

Frank lost his faith in God. He decided that he would never attend any church, and never be involved in any religion for the rest of his life. Five years later, Frank
married a third wife. “We will not get involved with any religion,” he warned her. “Don’t even think about making friends with anyone related to Christianity, because Christians are dishonest people.”

It just so happened that Train Them 2 Fish assigned a Bible worker, Vincent Kande, to the town of Muanda to plant a Seventh-day Adventist church. Vincent began to visit people and connect with the locals. Without mentioning his connection to Christianity immediately, he became a friend to Frank Mutamba. One day after a pleasant visit, Vincent asked if he could pray for Frank.

“I’m not interested in prayer,” Frank stated, but he wondered why his new friend would even make such a suggestion. With the discovery that Vincent Kande was
a Bible worker, Frank spoke of his disappointment with his Christian experience.

“I am a Seventh-day Adventist,” explained Vincent. “My church is a unique one, with a unique message.”

“I’ve made up my mind that there will be no discussion about religion in my home,” Frank declared to his Bible worker friend. “But if you do have any literature
explaining what your Adventist church believes, I will read it for information.”

Vincent quickly handed him The Great Controversy. Frank read the entire book and felt impressed. “We should consider learning more about the Adventist church,” he told his third wife.

Frank declined Bible studies in his home initially, but with every Bible study guide Vincent handed him to read, he had more questions.

Finally, Frank invited the Bible worker to explain the Scriptures with him and his wife at their home. After six hours of discussion, Frank’s family discovered that the Seventh-day Adventist church was the remnant, true church of Jesus, and they decided to become members of the Seventh-day Adventist family.

The small congregation of Adventist believers in Muanda gathered under a tree to worship every Sabbath. Many had been touched and changed as a result
of the Bible worker’s ministry there. Although Frank has a high social standing as a banker, he surprisingly harbored no disdain for worship under a tree. “There is no shame to following Jesus, even under a tree,” he said.

Frank and his wife are faithfully attending the newly planted congregation at Muanda today. Every Sabbath, 36 people gather together under a tree to worship
God. Frank’s family has donated land, and the congregation is trying to raise funds to build a church there. Thank you for your support to help Frank’s family and the congregation in Muanda, that they may have a nice place to worship God.


Location: Democratic Republic of Congo

Author: Pastor Thomas Ongasa works in the Democratic Republic of Congo. He was formerly the president of the local SDA conference. He believed that God was calling him to start a training school to equip young people to spread the gospel in his country so he founded Train Them 2 Fish.

How You Can Help:
Pray
for Frank and his wife and the Bible worker who is studying with them.

Donate. Funds are needed to help build a church in Muanda, and to support the workers and to supply the Bible workers and pastors with Spirit of Prophecy books. If you would like to help out with this worthy project, mark your donation “Congo,” and send to:

Mission Projects International
PO Box 506
Republic, WA 99166-0506

For electronic options, visit: www.missionspro.org/donate


Giving from the Heart

Giving from the Heart

A poor Congolese family learns about Jesus and shares with their community.

The greatest generosity is sometimes seen in the poorest of people. The Bible tells the story of a poor widow who put two mites into the treasury. Jesus said that she gave more than all, because she gave all she had. Th is same spirit of heart-felt sacrifice is moving people to give more than would be expected in our day.

Luzala lives in extreme poverty in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He is married, and a father to six children. His 15-year-old daughter is pregnant now, and the family lives in a metal, one-room shelter. Because of his poverty Luzala was not able to own his own land until the chief of his community donated a half acre to Luzala’s family.

Luzala had been invited by a local nonprofit organization to attend a six-month training program, where he could learn the trade of building. The purpose of the program was to equip poor people with skills to help them earn a living. After completing it however, Luzala never found enough work to sustain his family. His wife earned a bit of money through manual labor at a few farms, but they did not have enough income to afford to send their children to school.

Luzala’s family belonged to a Congolese traditional religion called, “Shoeless People.” Under this religion, they did not put shoes on their feet because they
believed that Congo was the holy land.

One day in 2017, Luzala’s wife received a visit from a Bible worker. It was her first time to invite a Christian into her home. She was surprised to hear about Jesus. “He is in heaven, preparing a home for those who believe in Him,” the Bible worker said. “Jesus will come back and take His followers with Him to heaven, where there is no sickness, no poverty and no death.”

“I want to know more about Jesus,” she said, and she set up an appointment with him for future Bible studies.

When Luzala came home that day, he was not happy with his wife for having a Bible study with a Christian. To his greater chagrin, she had requested further visits from the Bible worker.

“The man I met today had the good news about a place where there will be no poverty or death,” she explained. “This is why I want to know more about such a place, and how to get there.”

The Bible study plan was to meet once a week with Luzala’s family, but Luzala himself did not listen—until the evening of the fifth week, when he happened
to be at home lying on his bed. Luzala listened as the Bible worker talked about the Sabbath. When Luzala heard that the true Sabbath was not Sunday, but
Saturday, Luzala got up from his bed to ask questions. He had never heard this doctrine before.

Luzala suddenly became even more interested in Bible studies than his wife. He decided to have Bible studies twice a week at his home, and invited two of
his friends to join the Bible study program. His friends invited other people, until they had a group of 15 who came twice a week to learn about Jesus.

One day, Luzala shared a burden on his heart with the Bible worker. “I want the light that I have received to shine in my community,” he said. He had decided to donate half of his land for a shelter to be built on it, so that people could have a safe place to come and learn about Jesus. “I would like to go to heaven,” Luzala
said, “but while I am waiting for Jesus to come and take me home, I would like my humble place to become a station where people gather to learn about Jesus, and wait for Him too.”

Train Them 2 Fish raised funds in Congo to build a shelter at Luzala’s home where 38 adults and 50 kids gather every Sabbath to worship. They call the place, “Waiting Station of Jesus’ Second Coming.” Luzala was baptized along with his wife, their daughter and 23 of their friends. There is a great need for a school so that their children can have an Adventist education.

Train Them 2 Fish has assigned Luzala to the School of Evangelism building project, where he is now working to earn a living. He lives daily by God’s grace. Thank you for your support and prayers for the growth of this small congregation.


Location: Democratic Republic of Congo

Author: Pastor Thomas Ongasa works in the Democratic Republic of Congo. He was formerly the president of the local SDA conference. He believed that God was calling him to start a training school to equip young people to spread the gospel in his country so he founded Train Them 2 Fish.

How You Can Help: 
Pray for the Luzala’s family and their community to learn about Jesus and His last warning message.

Donate. Funds are needed to train more Bible Workers to enter areas where the name of Jesus is not known, Bibles for those new to the faith and Spirit of Prophecy books. If you are impressed to help with the work in this disadvantaged country, mark your donation “Congo,” and send to:
Mission Projects International
PO Box 506
Republic, WA 99166-0506

For online options, visit: www.missionspro.org/donate


Fundación Las Delicias

Fundación Las Delicias

A local woman shares her faith.

Recently, a group of youth from our ministry assisted in a local church health program, Quiero Vivir Sano or “I Want to Live Healthy.” The program resulted in many contacts for Bible studies and further interest in health.

Maria Elena was one such contact, and my husband Daniel and I decided to visit her. At first, we struggled to find the location of her house. My feet were tired from walking through the city, and I felt like giving up. Daniel, however, made one last phone call and got in touch with her.

We found that Maria Elena’s house was in a small neighborhood called La Cueva de Humo, or “The Cave of Smoke.” This seemed to be an appropriate title for the area, where a large concentration of marijuana and other drugs are used. As we entered the neighborhood, our eyes confirmed this reputation. Partially-dressed people sang, while others talked to the sky. Some danced, as if in some trace. We had prayed beforehand for the Lord’s protection, and I reminded myself that we were not alone. Surprisingly, some of the roughest looking people gave us their blessing. “Dios te bendiga,” “God bless you,” “Adelante, pasa,” “Come in,” they called out. Hearing such words from these people, we knew God was with us.

As we entered Maria Elena’s home, we assessed her physical and spiritual situation. She had some health issues: varicose veins, inflammation and heart problems. We gave her the best advice we could concerning her health, and offered to give her Bible studies. She was very open to learn more, and even called for her nephew to join us. We had a wonderful study, introducing her to the principles of the gospel. She invited us to come back the following week, and we
left, thankful for the experience we’d had with her.

When we returned for the next meeting, we brought Josue, a youth from Las Delicias. He led out in the Bible study. Maria Elena invited a neighbor and her uncle
to attend the group this time, and she gave thanks to God that her health had improved. We taught her a Christian song and enjoyed another blessed study with her and her friends. When we asked Maria Elena if she would like to start an official small group study in her home, she gladly accepted.

The next week, as we made our way to Maria Elena’s house, we met her on the path. She was on her way to ask someone to fix her washing machine.

“Do you want to come with me?” she asked. “It won’t take long, and we can go to my house for the study afterwards.”

“Of course,” we responded. We walked with her down a narrow path, crowded with poorly built houses. We came to the door at the end of the path, and waited respectfully at a distance. After a few minutes, Maria Elena called us to the door.

“I want you to meet Andrea. I told her about the Bible studies and health advice you gave me, and I think you can help her too. She said she would like to meet you.”

We walked in and spoke with Andrea for a bit, giving her some advice and encouragement from the Bible. She thanked us for the visit and we continued to Maria’s house. As we walked, Maria told us that she had just met Andrea for the first time. They were strangers, and yet she felt impressed that we should share with her. Maria Elena, with only two Bible studies under her belt, had already become a missionary. She continued to invite her neighbors and family to attend the small group in her home. While wrapping up the last study we had with her, Josue made an appeal. “Would you accept Jesus as your personal Savior?” he asked.

With a peaceful smile, and eyes filled with hope, Maria Elena answered, “Yes.” We prayed for her and her friends, took a picture for a memory, and said goodbye until the next time.

Little did we realize that we had seen Maria Elena for the last time on this earth. The next week, she didn’t answer our knock at the door, but a family member who lived nearby broke the news to us. She had passed away two days before.

We were shocked and heartbroken, but at the same time, a peace and joy filled our hearts. The Lord had used us as instruments to bring the gospel to this precious soul. Maria Elena was never baptized and she never entered an Adventist church, yet she died a faithful missionary. She taught us lessons in witnessing that we will not soon forget. Currently we are continuing to study the Bible with one of her neighbors.


Location: Colombia

Author: Kelly Miranda and her husband Daniel are volunteers at Fundación Las Delicias, a self-supporting ministry equipping youth for ministry in Bible work, health, and agriculture. Fifty students accompanied by staff are sent into the surrounding communities on a weekly basis to give Bible studies, health education, and also love to the orphan children.

How You Can Help

Pray for Maria’s family, that they will accept Jesus into their hearts. Pray for all the Bible workers ministering to the people in these eight churches and surrounding communities.

Donate. If you have a desire in your heart to help Bible workers reach more people in Columbia with our message of love, mark your donations “Las
Delicias,” and send it to:

Mission Projects International
PO Box 506
Republic, WA 99166-0506

For electronic options, visit www.missionspro.org/donate.


11/04/2017: Ready for What?

Ready for What?

Recently, I heard a sermon about getting ready and being ready. Perhaps you have heard sermons on that topic too. When I heard it, I wanted to ask the speaker, “Ready for what?” Yes, we should get ready and be always ready for the glorious appearing of our Savior, but I think the Scriptures give us even more duties to be ready for. You’ll see what I mean when I tell you a story.

Brother Joel Mapamu of Democratic Republic of the Congo had begun to get ready for another mission trip to the Sankuru Region of his country, something he does once a year. As he prepared and I helped raise funds, we both prayed fervently, waiting to see how God would answer. Then suddenly something happened. The enemy struck one of Joel’s family, attempting to discourage him from obeying the Lord’s command to go and work in His vineyard. Though tragic, this attack was nothing new: in past years, the devil has stricken one of Joel’s family members before a trip or after his return home.

The oldest son of the family, Emmanuel Soni Mapamu, left Kinshasa by bus bound for Namibia University. At Nkulu, a village near the border of Angola, the bus collided with a truck and flipped upside down into a valley with terraces, where it rolled twice before stopping. Four passengers died immediately and others were badly injured. By God’s grace Emmanuel survived, although very severely wounded. An Adventist lady traveling on the same bus called Brother Joel to tell him about the accident, and father and mother left the other six children and went to the scene of the accident.

Missionary’s son recovering after tragic bus accident.

The parents found their son in a Christian hospital unable to move. Tears flowed, especially with the mother. After a few days of her wailing over her son, the doctors asked the mother to return home. Brother Joel stayed for three long weeks. At last, a gift from a Swedish couple allowed them to pay the hospital bill and leave. Joel took his injured son to a hospital in Kinshasa, near where the family lives.

Back in his home city, Emmanuel continued improving. Brother Joel decided to go to Sankuru as planned in order to help, to teach, to preach and to baptize souls for the Kingdom of God. He has continued praying for his son’s healing and for help, especially for his travel expenses and for Bibles and study guides to take to the remote villages. He also needs malaria medication to take to the bush clinics.

Brother Joel is ready. Are you ready? Ready to work in God’s vineyard even amidst difficulties? Ready to give where means are limited? Ready to work, ready to pray, ready to help, ready for sacrifice?

My 92-year-old, widowed sister-in-law is ready. After losing her husband, she found peace in reading the Bible. Even in her care facility, this aged woman who doesn’t even speak the local language has been a witness to the ladies who care for her. How? She just keeps praying and studying her Bible. One young caregiver was very happy that the old lady prayed for her and her family!

No matter where you are in life, you can be ready—ready to share, ready to pass on the blessings God gives you. Let’s all get ready and be ready to serve wherever God calls!

MISSIONARY

Joel Mapamu

Brother Mapamu lives and works in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. (Article written by a sponsor who wishes anonymity.)

 

How You Can Help

Pray. Pray for the work in the remote regions of the Congo, and for the workers who must risk danger to take the light of the gospel to souls in these areas.

Donate. Brother Joel is asking God for travel expenses (about $1,000), for 300 Bible study sets printed in Kinshasa ($1,800), for 150 Bibles in Tetela and in French ($1,665) and for several Spirit of Prophecy books to share. If you would like to help defray these expenses, contact:

Cheyenne Francis, Mission Projects International, PO Box 59656, Renton, WA 98058


02/04/2017: Hope in Turmoil

Hope in Turmoil

Leaders at SETI, an evangelism training center in Brazil, take courage 
amid political and financial upheaval.

Have you heard what’s going on in Brazil? Over the last few years, many political scandals have surfaced, and recently, the president was impeached. Economic turmoil has also reached a climax. Yet one crisis is greater than corruption and economic failure: the emptiness of soul that only God can satisfy. In the midst of the turmoil, Izael Santos Moreira, a 2015 Santo’s Evangelistic Training Institute (SETI) graduate, found a vast field to work for Jesus.

SETI Bible evangelism students 2016
SETI Bible evangelism students, 2016.

In April 2016, Izael received a call to serve as a Bible worker in Pereiras, a small town in São Paulo State. He began home Bible studies in the community and soon opened a small group study with 15 people. Izael also used his knowledge of health ministry when he learned that one of his contacts, Mr. Isaias, had serious health problems that interfered with his ability to understand the Bible. Izael helped him regain his health by putting him through a detox program, exercising with him and teaching him how to eat healthfully, often sharing his own homemade bread with him. As Mr. Isaias began to feel healthier, his heart opened to the gospel.

Izael says, “Blessed be the name of God for SETI! This institution has made a difference in the lives of youth and young adults by helping us prepare ourselves to preach the everlasting gospel in a practical and relevant way.”
As last August’s Olympic games enthralled Brazil and much of the world, a group of dedicated young people arrived at SETI to receive thorough missionary training. Ana Paula Duarte, 28 years old, had wanted to come to SETI for some time. She shares, “My experience at SETI has surpassed my expectations. In the classroom we have been deeply studying the Bible, and just being here has already made amazing changes in my life.

“With lifestyle changes including eating a vegetarian diet and having a set time for waking, eating and sleeping, I feel improvements in my health. My mind is clearer, so I can absorb the classroom teachings more deeply. My favorite work assignment is on the farm. I’ve learned so much by being outside, working the land.

Ana Paula digging holes to plant guava trees.
Ana Paula digging holes to plant guava trees.

“My goal when I leave is to share the everlasting gospel. I am praying that the Lord opens a way for me to continue my studies and become a medical missionary. Certainly, SETI was an instrument in God’s hands to make me realize the importance of true education.” Testimonies like this encourage the team here to keep up the Lord’s work!

The national financial crisis has increased the need to strengthen SETI’s industries—both to help the school support itself and to improve the education students receive in agriculture and manual labor. A vineyard has already been planted and students and staff are working together to establish an avocado and guava plantation so that we can begin to market these fruits. Moving forward in faith that God will bring in the funds to purchase the plants, fertilizer, and irrigation system, workers have been digging holes for the trees and excavating a pond to use as a water supply for the orchard and vineyard during the dry season.

Despite the national crises, we have hope! We see our students implementing the lessons they learned here, and we want to continue making a difference. We want to finish the work! We want to help prepare as many youth as we can to live the life God has planned for us—both here and in the life to come.

Silveli TeodoroAuthor: Silveli Teodoro

Sister Teodoro works as the
academic secretary at Santo’s
Evangelistic Training Institute
in Brazil. secretaria@iceves.org


01/28/2017: Desta’s Defense

Desta’s Defense

God protects an Ethiopian convert from a lawsuit 
aimed at forcing him to stop preaching truth.

As the chairman of an association of most of the Sunday-worshiping denominations in my district in southern Ethiopia, I used to oppose the efforts of the Seventh-day Adventist workers. But God had other plans for me.

It started when an Adventist evangelist handed me a tract. I told him, “Please don’t give me that useless thing.” Yet in the evening, when I studied my Bible, I picked up the tract and began comparing it with the Scriptures. Soon, I began tuning in to a Seventh-day Adventist radio program. Slowly, God’s truths became clear to me.

One day I sat down with my wife and children and told them that I wanted to become a Seventh-day Adventist. My wife said, “You can’t,” but I went to the church anyway to listen in.

Deste with one of the church groups he raised.
Deste with one of the church groups he raised.

My first Sabbath, the elders asked me if I wanted to join the church. I told them, “I can’t answer you today.” But on my third Sabbath there, I made up my mind. I told the elders, “I am going to preach the gospel with you,” and I asked them to pray for me.
When my wife still couldn’t accept my decision, I told her that I hoped that in time she would agree with me. If not, I would give her all our property and leave. That’s how sure I was that I should become a Seventh-day Adventist.

After this, I talked with my superiors and wrote to the churches in my association to inform them of my new faith. At the next regional gathering, I again announced my decision. The main leader asked me, “Are you leaving because of the low salary?”
I told him that wasn’t the problem, but that I had come to understand that the entire Bible is true. Under his questioning, I tried to explain my new beliefs.

After the conference, the association filed a lawsuit against me, saying I was a false teacher who should be forced to stop preaching. I was summoned to appear before the government administrator. “Why are you causing religious agitations?” he asked. I told him that I didn’t know that what I had done was wrong.

Deste with one of the church groups he raised.
Deste with one of the church groups he raised.

After further interrogation, the administrator advised me not to enter other churches and proselytize. Then he added, “You may witness to people that invite you to their homes, and to individuals. Nobody can stop you from talking about God’s truth.”
After the hearing, I went home and told my wife that the government had given me permission to preach the gospel. Putting our son Samuel between us, I said, “I want our children to grow up according to God’s Word. There is no reason for us each to go our own way.”

 

The Lord softened my wife’s heart, and she agreed to study with me and allow the children to attend my church. After my family and I studied the Seventh-day Adventist doctrines, we were baptized together. Then we started preaching the gospel. I’ve even shared with my previous church members!

That was in 2014. Since that time, I have been blessed to serve in a number of Seventh-day Adventist churches, even raising up two churches in new places. About eight people have been converted from my old church. Two of the Sunday-keeping evangelists I used to work with have also been converted, and others are still studying.

God has supported me thus far, and has used all my experiences for good. This gospel is feeding me and making me grow. I am sure God will continue leading me. I will follow Him!

 

Deste Boke

 

Desta Boke is a gospel worker in southern Ethiopia.

Pray for the Holy Spirit to attend the Ethiopian workers’ labors as they share the Word and seek to establish churches in the mountain villages.

Donate. Many Ethiopian gospel workers must find side jobs to support themselves and their families. Your contributions to Mission Projects International marked “Ethiopia workers” provide for their support and enable them to devote their undivided energy to spreading the everlasting gospel.


10/22/2016: Never Give Up

Never Give Up

Australia

When Highwood Health Retreat hired me in March 2013 as their first ever full-time Bible worker, I was sure God had led me here. There was so much work to be done! Many guests had gone through the wonderful NEWSTART® health program over the years, and seeds had been sown. My heart’s desire was to connect with people who might be willing to learn more about the Healer they had glimpsed at Highwood!

As yet nobody had signed up for me to give them Bible studies, so the work started small. I would have to tread carefully since most guests come to Highwood for help with their health, not for Bible instruction. My work would be twofold: I would spend time getting to know the current guests, taking them for walks, eating with them and sharing a devotional each morning and evening for anyone interested; and I would follow up with former health guests to find any who might be open to studying.

To reach out to previous guests, I called them and asked how they had liked their stay at Highwood. I surveyed them about the food, the therapy and those sorts of things first, and would end by asking them to evaluate the spiritual aspects of Highwood. Their answers helped me decide where to go next. Could I offer them the health-related Bible studies I had developed? Would they be open for a personal visit?

Stine (third from right) with Highwood health guests and staff.
Stine (third from right) with Highwood health guests and staff.

Little by little a circle of special Highwood friends developed. Some were happy for me to visit their homes; others would meet me in a nearby park or restaurant. Our conversations often turned to spiritual topics. Sometimes I would bring my guitar and sing gospel songs. It was slow work, but I knew from the Spirit of Prophecy that “the Saviour mingled with men as one who desired their good. He showed His sympathy for them, ministered to their needs, and won their confidence. Then He bade them, ‘Follow Me.’” The Ministry of Healing, 143.

As I look back, I can only praise the Lord. I now have many Bible studies going, most of them with former Highwood guests! With some it took months or even years of friendship before they were ready for Bible studies. That’s why we can’t give up!

Nikki, 30 years old, is a special friend I study with over the phone. She came to Highwood in 2012, a business-oriented woman with a lucrative job. Her stay at Highwood really impressed her—there was something different about this lifestyle. Going home, she started a spiritual quest. I kept in touch with her over the phone, and we met occasionally. Unfortunately, she seemed to gravitate toward the New Age movement. Still, I kept talking with her and praying for her—and the Lord heard my prayers. Recently, when I visited Nikki, I found her ready! “I was looking forward to you coming, as I wanted to hear more about Jesus,” she said. Then she told me about a client of their business. She had given the old gentleman excellent service, and to show his thankfulness he requested to give her a little book. She took the book home and started to read. “When I came to the passage about forgiveness, I asked God to help me experience it, and I just had the most amazing feeling of something happening within me!” she shared. “The man who gave me the book was a Seventh-day Adventist,” she added.

When I suggested we study a Bible course together, she willingly accepted. “I have never experienced more peace in anything else but this God thing,” she expressed, “so I will give it a go!” In addition to studying with me on the phone, Nikki is reading The Ministry of Healing. Would you keep Nikki in your prayers?

Another former Highwood guest is Anna. When she came in 2015, we made an almost instant connection. Although not Christian, Anna was very open, and very impressed with what she experienced at Highwood. Through text messaging, she sometimes shared with me her struggles with bad habits and depression, and told me how she envied my faith. Still, she didn’t seem ready to make it her own.

I kept trying to encourage Anna and kept offering to visit, but various things kept coming in the way. Finally, last April I got the message I had hoped for: “I would love to catch up with you.” We met up, and what a change! She had started to make steps to overcome her alcoholism by visiting Alcoholics Anonymous. She was keen to show me the flyer they had given her, and I could quickly see that it was very spiritual. Alcoholics Anonymous admits that you cannot win the battle against alcohol in your own power—that you need a Power from outside to help you. The sad thing, though, is that they say you can relate to God however you see Him—in other words, you can create your own idol. Nevertheless, Anna was motivated to overcome, and God gave me an idea: Why not offer to tailor Bible studies for her connected to what she was learning in Alcoholics Anonymous—studies that show how to get to know the true source of power?

I offered, and for the first time she said “yes” to Bible studies! We began by studying our own hopelessness as sinners, our overwhelming problem of addiction to sin. When I told her why Jesus, our only way out, had to die on the cross, I could see she was touched. “This is so special,” she said. “I have never thought of it this way before!” She has now started to read The Desire of Ages, and we are continuing our weekly Bible studies. I request your prayers for Anna!

Maria came to Highwood last January open-hearted and eager to learn. I was out of the country most of the time she was here and barely got to know her before she left. Still, when her boyfriend came to pick her up, I hurried over to say “goodbye.” Their car was already rolling, but they stopped so Maria could get out and give me a hug. “Maria,” her boyfriend asked, “have you asked Stine about giving you Bible studies?” Right then she asked me to come and study with her!

Maria went through 30 Bible studies in record time, not only studying when I was there, but also doing lots of homework herself. At times she struggled, wondering if it would be right to convert from a nominal Catholic to a Seventh-day Adventist. Then one day not long ago she called me. “Stine, could you come and visit us tomorrow? We have some very special news!” When I told her I was not planning to go out that day, she said, “Then I want to tell you the news over the phone. I have made up my mind; I want to get baptized!” Praise God! Maria is soon to move far away. I know the devil will place obstacles before her, so would you please pray for Maria too?

Rarely do we find people as eager for Bible studies as Maria, but often we meet people like Nikki and Anna. It takes patience to wait for the seeds we sow to sprout. Yet what a wonderful promise God has given:

“And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” Galatians 6:9.

By Stine G. Struksnaes. stine@highwoodhealth.org. For more on Highwood Health Retreat visit www.highwoodhealth.org or www.facebook.com/A-place-of-my-heart-150082708486064.


04/25/2015: An Evangelist is Converted

An Evangelist is Converted

Ethiopia

 

Tamiru Gomele used to be an evangelist at th Full Gospel church here in Kuyera, and he was also the leader of the local ecumenical churches. Today, Tamiru is part of the Seventh-day Adventist Church as a result of a dispute that arose between Kebede Kenito—an Adventist gospel worker in the area—and the Full Gospel church members. Tamiru’s church members wanted to know whether or not the words of the gospel worker were true. After many discussions between Tamiru and the church members, the new truth shone in his heart and he decided that the Seventh-day Adventist Church was the true church. During a meeting, the congregation of the Full Gospel church came to the conclusion that Kebede would be allowed to preach because he was teaching the truth. They stated that the decision of accepting what he preaches would be up to the individual.

Tamiru in red shirt.

From that point on, Tamiru began to scrutinize the scriptures. Secretly, he started a Bible study with Kebede and after he became familiar with some truths, he began teaching his friends who were members of his former church. He felt a burden to witness for those souls who had not received the newly-found truth. One day, he called the church leaders to a meeting and warned them that they were responsible for abolishing the biblical Sabbath. During the meeting, he asked the church members to change the name of the Full Gospel church to Seventh-day Adventist. If they were not willing, he would join the Seventh-day Adventist Church because of the truth he recently accepted. Before leaving his former congregation, he gave literature to the church leaders. Once he left the church he started worshiping with his family and others in his own small hut.

Tamiru faced many challenges after leaving the Full Gospel Church. His former church leaders, both from within and without the country pleaded for him to not “mess up the church.” According to them, no church is greater than the other. Then they promised to give him a raise, saying, “If you have any disagreement with the church, we will make reconciliation.” They also tried to cause a separation among his own family members by attempting to influence them, but because he had been teaching his family the truths he found, the church leaders were not successful in keeping his family in the Full Gospel Church. When other tactics did not work, the leaders accused him for his teachings and presented him to higher and higher levels of administration.

He ran into more difficulties. His own church members accused him of bringing heresy into the church. Based on this, they proclaimed in the village that people were not to have anything to do with him, not to communicate with him, and not to welcome him into their houses.

“Thus persecution followed the teachers of truth from city to city. The enemies of Christ could not prevent the advancement of the gospel, but they succeeded in making the work of the apostles exceedingly hard. Yet in the face of opposition and conflict, Paul pressed steadily forward, determined to carry out the purpose of God as revealed to him in the vision at Jerusalem: ‘I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles.’ Acts 22:21.” Acts of the Apostles, 233.

Despite all these challenges and persecutions, Tamiru is a firmly established Seventh-day Adventist church member and has been serving the church and witnessing for truth with his God-given talents. Many people are coming to worship in our local area, but those who came from a denomination with a large church building find it challenging to worship in a small hut. They have repeatedly requested a church building.

Even though there have been many challenges beyond those mentioned here, God has been working miracles in the area. The truth has been kindled like a wildfire. Hundreds of souls are coming to the truth. Tamiru has a great zeal to work for the Lord and he has a vision to bring many into the remnant church.

Despite our financial constraints, we are planning to employ Tamiru as a gospel worker in this area. He has already been working for our church without pay. In his former church, he was a paid employee. But he is a zealous worker and many have been added to the church because God has been using this faithful servant. Please pray for Tamiru, his family, and for the local people, as God has been moving the hearts of many souls. Pray also that God will provide them with a church building in which to worship.

“It is the faithfulness, the loyalty to God, the loving service, that wins the divine approval. Every impulse of the Holy Spirit leading men to goodness and to God, is noted in the books of heaven, and in the day of God the workers through whom He has wrought will be commended.  They will enter into the joy of the Lord as they see in His kingdom those who have been redeemed through their instrumentality. And they are privileged to participate in His work there, because they have gained a fitness for it by participation in His work here. What we shall be in heaven is the reflection of what we are now in character and holy service. Christ said of Himself, ‘The Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister.’ Matthew 20:28.This, His work on earth, is His work in heaven. And our reward for working with Christ in this world is the greater power and wider privilege of working with Him in the world to come.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 361.

By Tesfaye Tadese Hailegnaw of the Gospel Ministry, Ethiopian Adventist College, Kuyera, Shashamanne, Ethiopia and Daniel Shamebo Sabore, Managing Director and lay worker of the Gospel Ministry, Federal Way, Washington, USA. Phone: 253-835-0107. Email: dshamebo@yahoo.com. Support for this ministry can be sent to Mission Projects International, PO Box 58656, Renton, WA 98058.


08/23/2014: The Joy of Sowing and Reaping

The Joy of Sowing and Reaping

Brazil

 

There are many obstacles to be faced and overcome in agricultural work. Countless difficulties in the period between planting and harvesting invite failure and discouragement, but there are several resources available in nature itself to achieve success. He who plants does not always get to experience the harvest, even though, quite understandably, planters enjoy the success of harvesting. This is a reality that we often experience in the mission fields. Jesus forewarned us about this. He said: “And he who reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit for eternal life, that both he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together.” John 4:36.

This story begins with a man that I studied with when I first began as a Bible worker. His name is Pastor Elias and he was an evangelical minister. After much prayer and several Bible studies, I was thrilled when he chose to become a Seventh-day Adventist. His entire family was baptized with him and my heart couldn’t help but sing for joy that I was having the privilege of seeing the crop.

Pastor Elias was, and is, director of a rehabilitation center for drug addicts. He has been actively sharing the great Three Angels’ Messages with his guests ever since he accepted these messages himself. Just a few Sabbaths ago, five of these precious souls surrendered their hearts and were baptized. Among them stood a woman of only twenty-one years of age, named Katia. Let me tell you about her.

Katia’s sad story, of what seems like endless problems, began shortly after her birth. Her mother decided that she did not want her, so when just a newborn, Katia was abandoned in the city of Rio de Janeiro. Her uncle felt very sorry when he found out about the situation, so he decided that he would take care of her. He raised her like his very own daughter until she was 11. At that time, Katia decided that she wanted to have a relationship with her biological mother and moved in with her. Sadly, her mother was not a very good influence, or let me just say, she was a very bad influence. At that very tender age, the mother introduced Katia to alcohol—telling her that it would help her to enjoy life much more, despite the problems around her. Katia didn’t last long with her mother, so at age 15, she left and moved in with an aunt, who lived in the state of Minas Gerais. That was an even shorter-lived relationship. Katia was only able to stay there for five months because her cousins were drug users and she was abused and physically assaulted.

That was it for Katia, and she decided the safest place to be would be the street. Unfortunately, the trade that Katia picked up to pay for food and clothing was not a reputable trade for any woman. She found customers of all types who would pay her for her “services” with clothing, food, alcohol, or drugs. Her life was just going from bad to worse.

Now homeless and sleeping in the woods or right on the street, she just roamed around aimlessly during most of the day. She would go for months without having access to a shower or a way to change her clothes. She didn’t know how to get out of her situation and just resigned herself to the idea that this is how she would live for the rest of her life.

Finally at age 18, Katia decided to see if she could return to her uncle. But when the uncle saw that she could fend for herself on the streets, he sent her right back out the door. Eventually, Katia found herself pregnant—seven months pregnant before she even had it figured out. She was broken. She had a dream of raising a family in a normal environment. She wanted her children to have a good father. “Now what am I to do?” she wondered.

Katia (center), flanked by Clayton and Priscilla Silva.

About this time, one of Katia’s cousins referred her to a rehab center in the area. The pastor that was running that rehab center took pity on her and said that he would help her with her soon-to-be born child. He offered to register her child in his name as the father. Katia was quite please with the arrangement, even though she didn’t understand how the child could be registered to her as the mother and to a married man as the father.

When the time came to process the papers, the pastor took his own daughter to the government office, on behalf of Katia, because Katia didn’t have valid paperwork herself. He then registered himself and his wife as the adopting parents. Once all was in order, he informed Katia that the baby was no longer hers and that she would no longer be allowed to even visit the child.

Katia was furious. For three years she tried to regain custody of her child, but to no avail. This deceitful crime left her deeply shaken. She eventually gave up and returned to the streets and the life she had lived before. Her face began to just emanate the bitterness that had taken hold of her heart. Now it seemed her life was going from worse to beyond imagination. Then one day her cousin found her again and told her about another treatment center. He told her that this treatment center would change her life—that it was her only hope for getting out of the rut that she was in. Katia was, understandably, resistant to trying another treatment facility, but eventually she decided to give it a try.

The pastor and his wife took her under their wings. They began showering her with affection, kindness, and love. Katia really did appreciate the kind treatment, but unfortunately her pull to the “old life” was strong too, so she would come and go. She would stay at the rehab facility for six months or so and then she would be gone—living her life on the streets. Then she would return after things got too desperate.

One day things got really desperate. Because Katia had returned to the streets during frigid weather, she had contracted tuberculosis and was very sick. And to top it off, she was pregnant again. She was in the most dreadful situation yet. This time she remembered how kind Pastor Elias and his wife had been to her—how they had showered her with love and affection. She came to herself and, like the prodigal son, she decided to return and get the help she needed—and stay for good this time.

Pastor Elias readily welcomed her back and this time Katia requested Bible studies. Pastor Elias taught her how to pray and study the Bible. He taught her to love her Savior with all her heart. What a glorious Sabbath it was when everyone saw her publically claim Jesus as her own personal Savior and be buried in the baptismal waters!

Due to the experiences that poor Katia had suffered in her young life, it seemed that she should spend the rest of her life engulfed in bitterness, except that, by the grace of God, the gospel seed has found way into her heart. She is now a happy young Christian that is just bubbling with the love of Jesus. It is such an incredible privilege when we get to have a little taste of the harvest. We can only guess what heaven sounded like when that angelic choir unleashed their joy over this priceless repentant sinner—Katia.

Today she is working for the rehab facility, helping other forlorn young women overcome their addictions and start a new life. She is engaged to a very upstanding young man who has also agreed to adopt her new son. I can’t help but praise God every time I see the new Katia. Praise the Lord!

 

By Clayton Silva, a full-time Bible worker for First Fruits ministry. Email: clayton.1978@hotmail.com.