Is it possible for Seventh-day Adventists to build bridges of friendship with Muslims? The divide between Christians and Muslims seems to grow wider each year. Yet Jesus is the master bridge builder! He bridged the gap between fallen man and Heaven, and He has placed Adventists in a position to connect with Muslims in ways that no other Christian denomination can.
Several facets of our unique faith resonate with Muslims. The 6-day creation, avoidance of pork and alcohol, our nearness to the end of time and the great judgment—these beliefs are just a few of the connecting links our Biblical faith gives us to Muslim ideology.
So how do we open discussion with Muslims? As a first step, it helps to learn their traditional greeting, “Assalamu alaikum.”1This Arabic salutation, which means “May peace be upon thee,” is almost universal among Muslims. On a recent trip to Texas, I had the chance to use it.
We had flown all night and needed a ride to our hotel. Calling a taxi, I soon met our Middle Eastern driver. I decided to try out my Arabic. “Assalamu alaikum!”
“Wa alaikum assalaam,” 2 he answered. “Who are you? Are you Muslim?”
“We are Seventh-day Adventists,” I replied, “and we don’t eat pork or consume alcohol. We worship one God and don’t worship with images. We believe in the resurrection and that we are living in the last days, and we are followers of Isa al-Masih!” 3
This all seemed new to him, and for the next 40 minutes we shared a delightful dialogue. After quite some discussion he asked me, “So is Jesus the Son of God?”
It seemed too early in our friendship for this hot topic—a theme Muslims love to argue but which usually leads nowhere. I knew we needed to connect first on points of agreement. So I responded, “I read the Qur’an and it tells me that Jesus was born of a virgin and that He was holy or righteous from birth.”
The driver thought a moment. “Yes, it does say that,” he nodded. Then he went on to a different subject. Thus the Lord gave me more time to establish a relationship.
One question I usually like to ask Muslims is, “What do you know about the judgment?” The driver and I had a lively discussion on that theme. He affirmed that Muslims fear the judgment with great anxiety. When I asked him why, he said, “One does not know if the scale of worth places him on the right side or not.”
“Do you think God is for you or against you?” I probed.
“I am not sure,” he said. “It is all about the scale and balances. If you have done enough good works, you may be in His favor. If not, the outcome is not good.”
I assured him that God is doing everything possible for him to come through the judgment—that He is desperately trying to save us. Then I encouraged him to listen when God tries to get his attention, to earnestly pray for direction and thank Him in advance. I could see that these were new thoughts to him.
When we finally arrived at the hotel, I had several tracts ready to offer. Our driver accepted them all, assuring me that he would read them!
God is using every avenue He can to bring the gospel to Muslims. Jesus paid the ransom for them. It matters not so much what men have done nor where they are, but what they do when light from Heaven shines into their lives. Will you pray for tact and wisdom to allow God to use you to reach out to this massive people group?
1 Pronounced ah-sah-LAH-moo ah-LIE-koom. Also spelled a salaam aleikum.
2 “And may peace be upon thee.”
3 Jesus the Messiah. Pronounced EE-sah al-mah-SEE.
Pastor Harnisch is the Adventist Muslim Relations Liaison for the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Canada. 250-254-2524; firstname.lastname@example.org
As the Muslim population increases in America, what will you do to reach out to your Muslim neighbors? If you don’t know where to begin, contact Pastor Harnisch. He can point you to resources to share with Muslims, or even hold a weekend seminar in your church.
An estimated 1.6 billion Muslims occupy our planet. They need our prayers! Will you ask God to send light into their lives?
“Lo, children are a heritage of the LORD, the fruit of the womb is a reward.” Psalm 127:3.
A year-and-a-half ago, the Lord put it on my heart to quit my job, but I had so much debt, I just wasn’t ready. If I could only work for six more months, I would say to myself. Then it would be another six. Then just a little longer. I kept making promises to the kids that were broken over and over. With tears in their eyes they wondered when Mom would quit and be “Mom” once again. I would go to bed exhausted and brokenhearted—continually going against my conscience.
In the last year and a half of my job, I noticed that God was definitely not blessing me. Everything that could go wrong was going wrong. My wonderful van broke down because there was no time to change the oil and it’s still sitting in the driveway with $2,500 US still owed on it. The new swimming pool has given us nothing but trouble and so no one even gets to swim in it. The pump and the tank both went out on the well and we still don’t have the money to fix it…and the list goes on.
I took this job four years ago, planning to work temporarily to pay off a $2,500 debt quickly. Now, years later, the debt is up to $28,000. What happened? Every year, I pay on my debt and accumulate more. Every year I drift further away from the Lord. I never thought this would happen. I thought I was so strong and my family was unsinkable with our relationship with the Lord. The devil had tried so many times, but with a watchful eye and prayerful heart, I would catch on quickly and get away from any of the devil’s plans. But there is a secret sin that had almost destroyed me, something I have dealt with for almost my whole life. It’s covetousness. I never realized how ugly the word was until now.
My entire plans and life changed one recent night. After worship, everyone was off in their own rooms getting ready for bed. My 14-year-old son went out looking for his cat to go to bed with him and quickly returned, urging me to check on his older brother. Christian, my 18-year-old son lived in an apartment on our property. I went out to the apartment and to my shock I found him sitting on the floor crying loudly. There were multiple cuts on his neck from the knife on the floor next to him and swollen places on his head from bashing it against the wall. I didn’t understand what was going on. Why did he try to take his life?
It was a long night with all of us out of bed praying with him, along with the help of a Bible worker that lived nearby. I stayed close by him that night and now Grandpa stays with him at night. My son also had hidden secrets—hidden for 14 years, and they finally surfaced. He couldn’t keep it in any longer.
Why didn’t I see this coming? Thinking back, I remember him asking me sheepishly once in a while for years if he could talk to me. Sometimes I would make time for a quick visit and other times I asked if we could wait until later, which never came.
After this event, we all went on a camp out and when Dad took all the kids to the waterfalls, I lay on my cot gazing up between the trees and talked to God. It was so clear to me! Quit my job. Quit everything that is a distraction between my family and me. Just quit. It’s not worth it! I almost lost my son, how foolish can I be!
When we returned home the next day, I prayed silently and then called my boss. I had thought of my job as mission work. I was an area director of an exchange student program and it was my job to find Christian homes every year. Giving hundreds of kids around the world a chance to know Jesus was both fun and fulfilling. But how deceiving. All my time was dedicated to everyone but my own kids. I was forgetting my own children and that breaks my heart. I also have a dog business and I’m working on selling out of it. No distractions! It’s taking one day at a time to get through all this. But I am truly thankful that God is so wonderful and has preserved my son!
This event woke up several people around us, too. Christian is now studying and praying with a friend at night and enjoying the beginning of a new life without bondage. He is free! For the first time in a long time, I see the gleam in his eyes when he talks to me. No more distant stares. He and his friend are seriously considering applying at Uchee Pines for the next semester instead of going to public college. One of my daughters has also made the decision to surrender more of her life to Jesus because of this. God can use bad things for good.
But please! Don’t wait! If you hear God calling you to do something in your life, don’t put Him off. I don’t know if my bills will be paid or not, but I will keep trusting the Lord. I never want to disobey God again. He will take care of all my needs. From now on I will not wait. To all those who read this—don’t wait!
“’No Time’—‘No time,’ says the father; ‘I have no time to give to the training of my children, no time for social and domestic enjoyments.’ Then you should not have taken upon yourself the responsibility of a family. By withholding from them the time which is justly theirs, you rob them of the education which they should have at your hands. If you have children, you have a work to do, in union with the mother, in the formation of their characters.
“It is the cry of many mothers: ‘I have no time to be with my children.’ Then for Christ’s sake spend less time on your dress. Neglect if you will to adorn your apparel. Neglect to receive and make calls. Neglect to cook an endless variety of dishes. But never, never neglect your children. What is the chaff to the wheat? Let nothing interpose between you and the best interests of your children.” The Adventist Home, 191.
By Christine Lovell. 1803 Hwy 24, Horatio, AR 71842. email@example.com.
I was raised in a halfway house: halfway to heaven, halfway to hell. The year I was born, my mother became a Seventh-day Adventist. I was the youngest in our family of four and she did what she could to raise us up. She took us to church and we periodically had worship at home. On the other hand, my father was an alcoholic and loved his beer. So at a very early age I was going to church, but I wasn’t very interested in it because of my father’s example.
I started smoking cigarettes when I was seven and drinking two years after that. I started smoking marijuana a year later and harder drugs came not long after. Why? John 5:19 says “The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner.” That’s not just for Jesus, it’s for us, too. I followed my father’s example when I was a very young child. My sisters were already smoking, and so I was always trying to get cigarettes from them, or stealing them from my father or the corner market, or bumming them from my friends at public school.
As I mentioned, I started drinking alcohol at age 9. I’d be at a party with my father and he’d call out to me, “Hey partner, go get me a beer!” He was hanging out with his buddies and he’d crush the empty beer can and throw it. I’d come over and hand him a fresh one. Pretty soon I started cracking open his beers for him and I’d take a little sip and then hand it to him. Not too long after that I started taking beers for myself and hiding them. I was getting pretty sly even though I was very young. And why? Because my father gave me that example. Step up, fathers, your children are watching you!
I have been in 11 major accidents: one at 75 miles per hour (mph), two at 65 mph, two at 55 mph, two at 45 mph. I cracked a bone in my neck by going head first into a tree and fractured my skull in two places. I’ve had three surgeries on my left hand, one on my left ankle, and many other injuries. These were the fruits of the life I was living. Romans 6:20 says, “When you were the servants of sin, you were free from righteousness.” And I was. I was righteousness-free. It then says, “What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death.” Verse 21.
I started playing the drums when I was ten-years-old. At 14 I started playing in a heavy metal band. By the age of 19 I had been in the band for a long time and that lifestyle led to a lot of trash in my life. My buddies and I used to go out to this old abandoned house in the woods for the purpose of becoming inebriated. One day, while there, we were passing around alcohol, weed, and cigarettes and I started philosophizing. When you are in that state you start thinking you’re wise. I used to get stuck in traffic all the time working in southern California, so I started visualizing building freeways on top of freeways. I explain all this to my buddies. And then suddenly, right in the middle of my conversation something happened. It felt like God poured water on my head. Cold, chilling water. I saw in a vision that everything that I had been visualizing was destroyed by two things: earthquake and fire. It was there, and then it was gone; and it shook me badly. I covered my face with my hands, and I started crying right in the middle of my little philosophy. I stumbled out and the only other thing I remember that night is being in a car, driving home.
About a month later, I was drinking beer and throwing darts with one of the same buddies that had been at the old house. He went into the kitchen to grab more beer and as he left, I threw a dart, and right then I had the same experience again. It wasn’t as intense, but I felt the same presence, and it just shook me and I got tears in my eyes. My buddy came into the room and handed me the can. I said, “Hey man, that same thing happened again.” He said, “Man, you’re goin’ crazy.” He was sick of that foolishness. I remember thinking, “Wow, I am going crazy.” I had had too many drugs. I’d been staying up all night and mistreating myself in so many ways that I couldn’t even hold a regular conversation. I thought, “This is too much.” I put down the beer, got in my truck, and drove home.
I didn’t know any Christians, except for my mother, but I hated her. During that same time, however, she, as a Christian and as a mother, loved me. She was praying for me, right at this time of my life. She later told me that she had gathered her friends and asked God to please give me a hatred for smoking and a new heart to turn to Him.
About a week after the second experience, I began to think, “I hate cigarettes.” And I did. I had been smoking for 12 years by the time I was 19. I thought, I’ve got to quit smoking. I’ve got to quit drinking, and I’m going to quit all drugs—until I’m done with cigarettes, and then I’m going to go back to the other things, because I like those a lot. I totally believed that I would do that. But when God took the desire for cigarettes from me, it was gone. I had no cravings for cigarettes, no cravings for alcohol, no cravings for drugs. It was just all gone.
But when I quit all those things, I was still listening to heavy metal music. Dark, satanic stuff. I started thinking, “This stuff is wrong.” I thought of all the people in bands that had either killed themselves or overdosed. I thought, “Is this my future if I’m following this crowd?” That’s not good. That’s not even smart. So I decided to quit listening to that music. And I did.
Within that same week, I thought, “The food I’m eating is absolutely horrific.” I’d wake up with a 64-ounce coffee every morning. I would eat a whole pound of bacon with white toast for breakfast. I’d drink Pepsi all day long. Water was for sissies. I’d have fast food for lunch and a big pork chop for dinner, then alcohol and drugs at night. So I began thinking, this is not the smartest thing. Logically, I knew I was killing myself. So I changed my diet. I started eating fruits and vegetables and drank no more caffeine.
That same week, I heard someone talking on television, and I thought, “I can’t speak like he does.” That guy was having a clear, normal conversation, without curse words. I thought, “I don’t sound like that.” And right there I decided that the next time I was about to curse, I would choose a different word. And I did.
So that same week, I had stopped smoking, drinking, and doing drugs. My music was gone, my diet was changing, and my vocabulary was completely different. At the end of that week, I started hearing a voice: “Go get your Bible.” I was not a Christian, but my mother was praying for me. She was pleading to God and He was listening. I kept hearing that voice: “Go get your Bible.” It wouldn’t leave me alone. My parents had a bunch of stuff stored in a garage, so I drove there and broke in and started going through all the stuff until I finally found it. There at the bottom was my Bible, and when I saw it I felt a sensation that I can only describe as when Elizabeth’s babe leapt in her womb. Something leapt in my spirit. I took my Bible home and set it on my table. Now that voice would be quiet, right?
But then, I started hearing a voice: “Read it.” Because, you know, that’s what you do with books, right? The voice wouldn’t go away, so after a couple days I grabbed the Bible. It was then that I said my first prayer, which was “God, how do I get to heaven?” I opened the Bible and it fell open to the back where there were questions and answers, and in bold, at the top was something like, “Who Goes to Heaven?” It was a direct answer to my prayer and I broke down crying. I knew God was there. From that point I began reading my Bible from six to eight hours every single day, for the first year. I was baptized, went to a missionary college, and became a missionary. I was ordained as a pastor in Michigan only four years later. Now, by the grace of God, I am married to a wonderful wife and have two children near their teens—a truly happy family.
Will you allow the Lord into your heart, right now, to begin that radical transformation that He wants to do in you? Pick up your Bible and read it for yourself. Meet the Man behind the message. It’s Jesus.
By Daniel R. Mesa III. Website: www.revelationwithdaniel.com. To hear Daniel’s testimony in its entirety, search “Mesa” at www.audioverse.org and find the message entitled: “The Gospel of Daniel.”
Marques de Sousa’s life of crimes began when he was just a boy. At age 11, while living in Rio de Janeiro, he worked as a “jet”—someone who delivers drugs back and forth to dealers. By 12 he had his first gun and began working on his own crimes: robbing and dealing drugs. By 16 he relocated to São Paulo where he formed drug dealing and robbery gangs. He was arrested a few times and lived on the streets quite often.
By 21 he had his first important contact with the gospel in prison, but he did not pay too much attention to it. But when he went back out into the streets he saw the reality of the life he had chosen. His companions were dying young, being killed because of crime. He made up his mind to leave the criminal world and surrendered himself to Christ. In 1986, he was baptized at Deus é Amor (God is Love), one of the biggest Pentecostal churches in Brazil. He became a missionary for this denomination and made many trips to Africa through this church. Later on, he became a pastor. For 11 years he worked for the ministry of Deus é Amor, but then, for personal reasons, he left it. After that, Pastor Marques founded and directed a church named Avivamento do Espírito Santo (Holy Spirit Revival) with its headquarters in Africa and a subsidiary in Brazil. His church was based upon the same foundational doctrines as the Pentecostal church, including the doctrines of immortality of the soul, speaking in tongues, and eternal torment.
A few years passed, and then in 2011 he came in contact with the Seventh-day Adventist church through TV Novo Tempo (Hope Channel TV) in Brazil, while in search of additional knowledge from the Word of God. He began by watching the Bible studies taught by Seventh-day Adventist pastors, but Pastor Marques did not want to know about the Sabbath issue because he believed that this commandment was abolished when Christ died on the cross. He was interested in learning about the prophecies in Daniel and Revelation. He began using that knowledge in his preaching and in Bible studies with others. But most of the time, when topics like the Sabbath or the death of the soul came up, he would skip them. Nevertheless, as he continued to study the prophecies, he felt an increasing desire to learn more. When he wasn’t able to watch the Bible studies on television, he would record them and watch them later when he had a Bible handy and could take notes.
After many studies, he realized he no longer believed in what he used to. He no longer preached on topics that he had in the past. He came to understand that the Sabbath was not abolished and he began keeping it. Around this time, he met a young man named Aquiris Kamar and his wife Thamara Rodriges. They were missionary students from Instituto de Educação e Saúde de Taquara (Health and Teaching Institute in Taquara, Brazil). This couple gave Bible studies to him and his church. He began attending the Seventh-day Adventist church from time to time.
In 2013 he learned about a radio program called A Verdade Para o Tempo do Fim (The Truth for the Time of the End), aired by Musical FM in São Paulo every Sunday afternoon. Even when he was working, Pastor Marques would not miss the program. He contacted the radio ministry and asked for study material in DVD and CD form, from the project Clamor da Última Hora (Last Hour Cry), which has given away millions of these materials to the listeners of their radio program. One of these materials was a study called “Discoveries on Prophecies” by Mark Finley. He also read others on health topics.
After having watched and listened to the entire series on prophecies, he presented this material to his church, Avivamento do Espírito Santo. His members became confused because they saw that these studies were different than what they had been taught and believed. Many questions came up in regards to these new doctrines, so Pastor Marques began holding Bible studies to explain the doctrines and clear up the doubts of his church. They studied the sanctuary, the books of Daniel and Revelation, the baptism of the Holy Spirit, the real gift of tongues, the mortality of the soul, the final judgment, and the second coming of Jesus. But inside the church grew a movement against the Sabbath issue and about 60% of his members left and joined other Pentecostal churches. The rest stayed, both out of respect and in curiosity. They wanted to learn more about these new doctrines.
Today, there are still some who have trouble with the Sabbath issue. However, all the members were given study materials about these doctrines and on Saturday mornings they gathered to study the Ten Commandments. Many have come to understand and keep the Sabbath. Some still do not, but they believe that the Sabbath is the Lord’s Day and that it was not abolished on the cross. Some of the members who had left came back when they realized that there was no other place where they could learn truth from the Word of God, than in this humble church.
The A Verdade para o Tempo do Fim ministry has made a commitment to help them with study materials and also help Pastor Marques in the ministry of the Word of God to his church and through outreach seminars, so that the members and others may come to understand the truth of the Adventist movement more clearly. It is Pastor Marques’ desire that God keeps working in his heart, in his church members’ hearts, and in other ministries, so that they can come to know these truths.
“We must never forget how hard it is to remove long-cherished errors from the minds of men, which have been taught from childhood. We must bear in mind that earth is not heaven, and that there will be discouragements to meet and to overcome, but forbearance and tenderness and pity should be exercised toward all who are in darkness. If we bring them to see the light, it will not be solely by arguments, it must be by the work of the grace of Christ on your own hearts, revealed in your own characters with firmness, yet with the meekness and simplicity of Christ. Through much prayer you must labor for souls, for this is the only method by which you can reach hearts. It is not your work, but the work of Christ who is by your side, that impresses hearts.” Evangelism, 341.
By Alexandre Bernardes of Ministerio a Verdade para o Tempo do Fim. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
My name is Kevin Hughes and I was baptized as a Seventh-day Adventist on March 22, 2014. I was not raised Adventist. I was born in 1994 to Roman Catholic parents and they did the best they could with the light given them, even though I was certainly no easy child to raise. They are wonderful people and I am so grateful to God for them. In 1997, my parents moved to Vancouver, Washington and this is probably where the story really begins to take shape. It was there that I was enrolled in Catholic school as a child which helped me to see the truth in the Seventh-day Adventist message. You see, I knew what the Catholic church taught because I had been educated to be a Catholic by the priests themselves.
By the time middle school came around, it was not uncommon for me to get into arguments. I was hot-tempered and found myself in trouble more often than I ought to have been. By high school the Holy Spirit had begun to impress me that the Roman Catholic Church wasn’t keeping to all the light, but I saw Protestantism as just a little spat where some Catholics left the mother church. So I decided I wanted to be Jewish. My mom talked sometimes about the fact that we were of Polish decent, and that there may have been some Jews in our lineage; so I talked a lot about being Jewish, but ultimately I was neither ethnically an Israelite, nor was I one spiritually, in that I didn’t really accept the Bible as the absolute Word of God. I accepted a form of godliness but denied the power thereof.
While in high school, my behavior did not improve. In fact, I had two separate personas. I was often well liked by teachers because I worked hard in school, but I was not often liked by students because I had a temper and would act out a lot. In one instance I ended up getting suspended for a week because I got really upset and a rumor went around that I had threatened a teacher. It wasn’t true, but I think people believed it because I was always getting into some kind of controversy, so it wasn’t farfetched.
I met and began seeing a girl and we got rather serious, we were both living in the world and my life spiraled downhill. I went through bouts of depression and when I would talk to her she didn’t spend time trying to get me to change my anger problems, she would just laugh it off or back me up. She also encouraged even more serious sinful passions which don’t need to be mentioned. During this time I adopted many habits which I’m certainly not proud of, from little things like littering, to bigger ones that, again, really don’t need to be mentioned.
When I was 17 years old, I tried to get ready for football. I was pretty unsuccessful at it but thought that if I played football I could do something “significant.” This is when God began to call me out of Babylon.
One day after a workout, I stopped by the training desk where my personal trainer Reynard Carrie was sitting. He said hello and we started talking. During the conversation he asked me where I went to church, I proudly told him all about “synagogue” and he patiently listened as I went on about it. Then he asked me a question I’ll never forget, “What do you believe will happen when you die?” I said what I had always been taught and stumbled all over myself trying to figure out how to answer that question because in reality I had no idea. Then he asked if I would like to see what the Bible says. I said yes, and over the course of the next few months Rey became one of my very best friends, and I stopped wanting to go to Jewish temples where it was now obvious that the truth of the Bible wasn’t being taught. I kept wearing Jewish apparel like the kippa, but would go with Rey to his church, which was a Seventh-day Adventist church. There I learned why the Sabbath is actually very important and how the Sabbath isn’t just for Jews, but made for man (Mark 2:27). I learned that the dead enter into a state of sleep where they await the second coming of our Lord and Savior, and most importantly, I learned that Jesus is the promised Messiah and that He is returning soon to take His people home. Finally, after a few months, the Jewish garb came off and was replaced by the robes of righteousness that Christ gave me.
Although no one really had much of a problem with me being Jewish, when I decided to be an Adventist my parents and friends weren’t happy. And even though they could see the changes that it wrought in me, most still rejected the message and have often shown their displeasure about it. Funny how giving up the traditions of men for the truth of God’s Word separated me from the people of the world who I thought were my friends. That said, I do not regret a single relationship that I’ve lost or that I have had to give up, because Jesus’ love is so much better!
Speaking of family, however, recently it does seem that some seeds have been planted with my family. I can only continue to pray that someday they will join the ranks of the saints of Christ. As for my girlfriend at the time, she wasn’t happy when I wanted to give up sin and live a life that pleases the Savior. For a time it seemed neither of us wanted to break up. We went through the motions for a while, but all along I tried to keep to the Bible and she tried to keep me in open sin. The relationship placed me in the position of choosing between my Lord and the one tie left of the world. When finally, by the grace of God, I was strengthened to break every tie to that relationship, I was free at last from bondage. It was soon after that day that my pastor saw that I was ready for baptism. My baptism is still the happiest day of my life to this point.
Today I have become a Bible worker and desire to share with the entire world the saving joy that God has imparted to me. I desire to share with everyone the love of our Lord and Savior Jesus. Of myself none of these things, nor any of the other amazing things I have seen would be possible, but in Christ all things are possible. Moreover, I have a more sure witness than anything I have seen and that is the Holy Bible, the very Word of God which was inspired by the Holy Spirit. I pray that you are blessed and that God is glorified by this testimony.
By Kevin Hughes of the Historic Message Church in Portland, OR. Website: www.knowthebible.com.
Humans are a physical, mental and spiritual collage. Our health and well being requires these pieces being in perfect balance and proper functioning. We have an inherent need for physical and mental rest every week. Jesus understood this component of human nature when He said, “Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” Mark 6:31. Humans themselves recognized this need and thus, holidays were established. So in this spirit, and after two consecutive years of uninterrupted missionary activities, my wife and I decided to take advantage of this custom, and rest. Although working full time for the Master can, and must be punctuated with rest periods, our efforts to watch, pray and win souls for Him should never be interrupted.
I visit my family often because I live a few miles from my mother and younger sister. But the same is not true for my wife Priscilla, who hasn’t seen her family for more than two years due to distance. We live in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, while her family lives far away in the state of Para in northern Brazil. As always, God provided us with the time and resources needed to accomplish this vacation trip. We arrived safely and Priscilla had an exciting reunion with her mother and friends, as well as being reunited with her older sister Michele, whom she hasn’t seen in over 20 years.
Michele has suffered the most from the separation of their parents. Her father left home and her mother had to work to support the girls, with no time to encourage their growth and education. It got to the point where she could no longer keep them at home alone because the neighborhood was too dangerous. So she sent them to the home of her own mother, the girls’ grandmother. Michele was very disgusted with her life. She considered herself an orphan living in house arrest without enjoying the happiness of a home. Despite her grandmother’s care, she greatly missed the affections and love of her parents.
One day, when Michele was in the market, she met with a group of hoods. She approached one and inquired about his life and was surprised by his point of view. He said he lived a free life without rules, did what he wanted and was happy. Michele’s eyes flashed, perhaps like the eyes of Eve when the serpent promised a higher existence of life on the fringes of Divine order. She kept in touch with the gang and when she was 14 years old, made the worst choice of her life—a choice that would cause dramatic and terrible consequences. She fled away with the gang and disappeared. The entire family felt that Michele was dead. But after five long years, she reappeared, although now she was no longer alone but was married and pregnant with her first child. Three years later she had a second child—a son. But her marriage was filled with frequent conflict and she left her husband and started using drugs. She was now experiencing the results of the pseudo-happiness of a life without rules. She didn’t spend much time alone, but soon found another gang member with whom she would spend more desolate years of her life.
Michele didn’t know what suffering was, until she met up with this new gangster called Prophet. Prophet was one of the most feared gang leaders in much of Brazil, a burly and bearded man, suspicious of everything and everyone. When he wasn’t under the influence of drugs he seemed ordinary. But on drugs he argued, fought, and beat up everyone, to the extent that not even trained police officers could restrain him. He beat Michele and their children often in order to force her to steal, lie, use drugs, and do many other terrible things. Occasionally she fled to other states and thought she was safe, but wherever she went, Prophet found her and tortured her. There seemed to be no way of escape. She passed through 12 years of her life in this way, until someone killed Prophet. At the time of his death Michele was completely enmeshed in drug addiction and now had five children, he always refused to assist the clinic at https://firststepbh.com/blog/treatment-options-available-recovering-addicts/, even when his family begged him to.
One day, she looked at her young ones and remembered her own childhood. She had been physically or emotionally abandoned by her parents and was now doing exactly the same thing with her own children. Although she was physically present, her life was dominated by drugs and by work, with no time to provide maternal affection to the children. It was then that she began to struggle. Michele told us that her youngest daughter, who was less than ten years old, would lock her inside the house and hide the key because she wanted so much for her to beat the addiction. During the crisis of withdrawal Michele almost attacked her daughter because she wanted the key to get out and find drugs, but the child stood firm in order to help her mother, even if it meant taking a beating.
Michele contracted a serious disease that threatened her life and left her a complete invalid and bedridden. It was then that she decided to change her life. Priscilla was able to contact her and began Bible studies by phone. When we arrived in Para we started worshiping daily at Priscilla’s mother’s home, along with Michele and her children. A few days later another sister arrived, and after 20 years the family was together again. Michele made a statement that moved us all, “We have always tried to find Christ in churches, music, and books, but they always disappointed me. I didn’t know it was so easy to find Him through Bible study and prayer. Thank you, my sister, for introducing me to Christ.”
We were there for two weeks, and at the end of our visit Michele said that for the sake of her children and the new opportunity that God was giving her, she had no desire to use drugs. Currently, Michele attends an Adventist church near her home in Para. She continues to study the Bible and is happy with her family and new life. I thank God every day for His labor during our regular missionary work—and even on vacation.
By Clayton Silva. Clayton and his wife Priscilla are workers for First Fruits Ministry in Brazil. Email: email@example.com
God works for each us in miraculous ways, even though we don’t always recognize the hand of divine intervention. With my testimony I hope to encourage and strengthen your faith and push you a bit harder to step out and let God lead.
I was a rebellious youth and made several bad decisions. I began drinking and smoking marijuana at a young age. I did well in school and got excellent grades, so I was able to keep my activities a secret from my family. That is, until I was arrested for using drugs. I moved out of the house at age 18 and ended up in more trouble because my roommates were using and dealing drugs. I had no intention of selling drugs and my involvement came from ignorant excitement and the naive invincibility that many youth have. My roommate’s drug use grew worse until they were bringing in multiple kilos of marijuana and eventually cocaine. I noticed a change in the demeanor of each roommate as they sank deeper into substance abuse.
Even though I was also using drugs, I really enjoyed weight lifting and bodybuilding. I thought that the abuse I did to my body on the weekends could be counteracted during the week by exercise and what I thought was a good diet. One day, while working out, I met a couple of guys at the gym. I was amazed at how Stephen and Eldon could be so strong and healthy despite being vegan. That went against everything I knew. I was eating some form of meat at least five times a day. They told me that they were healthy because of the insight of Ellen White, who had written many books on health.
Over time, we developed a friendship and I would fellowship with their families on Sabbath afternoons. I learned about biblical prophecies and came to the conclusion that there must be a God. I struggled with the idea of turning my life over to Him, until one day, while driving down the road, I came to a deep conviction. I prayed earnestly to God, and told Him that if He would deliver me from the bondage of drugs and alcohol, and prove it to me for the next 30 days, I would then be baptized and follow Him forever.
As soon as I finished praying, my eyes were opened and the sun got brighter. Looking up, I saw a translucent hand descending from the sky. It went into my chest and pulled out what looked like chains and took them back up into the sky. I felt a freedom from bondage and knew I was victorious, but also knew I had a part to play, and part of that meant moving out of the house I shared with my drug dealing friends. Later, I was reminded of this statement: “No one sees the hand that lifts the burden, or beholds the light descend from the courts above. The blessing comes when by faith the soul surrenders itself to God. Then that power which no human eye can see creates a new being in the image of God.” Desire of Ages, 173.
When I arrived home, the vision was still fresh in my mind and God pulled the blinders off and allowed me to see the reality of what I had been living in. Walking to the front door, I could hear the loud music from outside. I entered the house, which was like going into a dense fog or mist and I got goose bumps. In the corner, mixing records with a mixing board was a man named Julio. I saw a tall dark figure standing high above Julio with its hands on Julio’s elbows. The figure appeared to be controlling him like a puppet and I knew it was demonic. I realized that I had been subject to demonic forces in that house. I quickly loaded up a few of my things and left, never to return.
Thirty days later I was baptized. I felt that if I were to be successful in my Christian walk I would need to get away for a while. I traveled to California so I could stay with some of my family. I had no idea how important it was for God to impress me to leave that very day. I found out later that the house I had been living in, with all my “friends” had been raided by the police the same day and there was a warrant for my arrest. In a few days five troopers appeared at my parent’s home to arrest me. Meanwhile, in southern California, I contacted the sheriff and was able to share my testimony with him and the prosecuting attorney. They both happened to be Christians and they dropped the charges and bid me God speed.
In California, I got a job waiting tables at a restaurant. They gave me Friday nights off, and because it was winter, I would come to work after sunset on Sabbath. But the environment had issues: alcohol, rock music, sports fanatics, and foul mouths. These weren’t good influences on a new Christian, but I was zealous and on fire. However, when spring came, I had a Sabbath dilemma with the days getting longer. The owner told me that I couldn’t take two of the busiest nights off, and I would have to choose to work one night or the other. I knew I couldn’t break God’s law, so I went home and knelt in prayer, asking God to give me a job where I could honor Him and keep His commandments.
That night, I went to bed knowing that God would answer my prayer, but I had no idea that He would do it so quickly. I was awakened at 7:00 am (that’s like 2:00 am to a 19-year-old) by a call from Eldon, one of my friends from the gym. Eldon said he’d had a hard time contacting me, and that something very strange had happened that night. Pierre Barkovic, a friend of his in California, had opened a restaurant and health food store, and was looking for help running the place. You see, the same night that I had prayed for a job, Pierre had prayed for a worker. That night he had a dream and in it he saw Eldon. Standing next to Eldon was a young man with curly hair holding a jar of herbs. He was told to talk to the young man.
I got the job and because the business closed at 2:00 P.M. every Friday and wasn’t open on Saturdays, I was able to keep the Sabbath. I was reminded of the words of the prophet Joel: “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out My spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions.” Joel 2:28.
Although I did know a bit about supplements from my bodybuilding days, my knowledge of herbs was limited. But I began learning as much as I could about God’s methods of healing while I worked with the people that came into the store. My desire for knowledge increased and led me to return to Washington, where I met my wife Sue. We attended health lectures in Seattle and knew that being part of natural health and healing was what we wanted to do with the rest of our lives. God’s providence eventually led us to Kentucky to operate the Home for Health Lifestyle Center. We feel so blessed to be able to be in the ministry. Sue and I have worked with many people over the years and we are so grateful.
I can’t imagine where I would be now if God had not revealed Himself to me. Although God’s intervention in my behalf may seem dramatic, it was because of circumstances that threatened my opportunity to receive eternal life that caused God to intervene. I know if the curtain of life’s circumstances were pulled back for all to view, we would see Jesus working to bring us all into His arms of salvation. I trust you also recognize moments where he has worked for you, too.
Steve Day writes from Stanton, Kentucky where he manages Home for Health Lifestyle Center. Website: www.HomeforHealth.net.