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Life-Changing Day

To Sabbath School teachers: This story is for Sabbath, June 8.

By Andrew McChesney


adim was 14 when his mother and sister were killed in a car accident in Belarus.

After the heartbreaking loss, Father began to seek God. He attended Seventh-day Adventist evangelistic meetings and was baptized.

It was the 1990s, a golden time for evangelism in the former Soviet Union. The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 had opened the door to religious freedom, and evangelistic meetings were being held across Belarus, Russia, and other former Soviet republics.

Vadim, then 15, said Father could do whatever he wished but he would never enter an Adventist church.

“I will not go to your church,” he declared.

Father didn’t say anything.

Four months later, he invited the boy to go with him to church on a Sabbath morning. Vadim, however, hadn’t changed his mind.

“I don’t want to go,” he said. “I won’t go.”

But Father wasn’t about to give up. He knew that while Vadim might not want to go to church, he did want something more than anything else in the world. The boy was learning computer programming at school, and he wanted to own a computer. Computers, however, were prohibitively expensive in Belarus at the time.

Father said he knew an Adventist woman at church who owned her own computer.

“We could ask her how she bought it,”
he said.

Vadim went to church.

He found to his surprise that church members met in the home of a grandmother, and they gathered around a large table to worship.

After arriving, Vadim whispered to Father, “Where is the woman with the computer? I want to talk to her.”

Father whispered back, “Let’s talk to her after the worship service.”

Vadim had not planned to stay for the whole service. He had hoped to meet the woman and leave.

As he sat through Sabbath School and the divine worship service, he heard people sing hymns for the first time. He saw people pray on their knees for the first time. When the preacher spoke, he heard for the first time about the special friendship between David and Jonathan.

By the time that the worship service finished, Vadim had completely forgotten about his reason for coming to church. He no longer wanted to talk to the woman with the computer. His heart had been touched by all that he had seen and heard.

After that Sabbath, he came to church every Sabbath. He began to keep the Sabbath. He read through the Bible and the Conflict of the Ages series by Ellen White. He became a new person.

One worship service changed his life. He had come to church to learn how to buy a computer and had left with a new life.

A year later, when he was 16, he gave his heart to Jesus in baptism.

The next year, he went to Zaoksky Adventist University in Russia to study to become a pastor.

Today, Vadim Derkach is a pastor and a leader of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Belarus. He serves as executive secretary of the Belarus Union of Churches Conference.

Whatever became of his desire to own a computer?

He said with a smile, “I did buy a computer — but later on.”

Part of this quarter’s Thirteenth Sabbath Offering will help open a center of influence for young people, which Vadim will help set up, in Minsk, Belarus. Thank you for planning a generous offering on June 29.