Making Wise Choices
Julius didn’t understand the dangers of alcohol and drug use, and before long he was addicted.
Julius lives in southern Zambia. He grew up in a family that had no religious roots. When he was 14, some friends invited him to join their gang, and he did. He didn’t understand the dangers of alcohol and drug use, and before long Julius was addicted. Soon he joined his friends in other activities—activities that offered the thrill of danger.
Riots broke out in the city and Julius and his friends decided to join in. To boost their courage, the boys smoked marijuana and drank beer. When they arrived at the scene of the riots, the police were there, trying to break up the fighting.
Julius followed his friends to a house, where the boys grabbed anything of value and fled. They saw a police officer ahead and tried to dodge him. But the police officer yelled for them to stop. One of the boys attacked him, and in the skirmish that followed, bullets flew. Suddenly Julius felt something sting his neck, and blood trickled onto his shirt. He had been shot. Another boy fell to the ground, shot in the stomach. He died on the street.
Suddenly the boys were not brave warriors, but terrified teens. They helped Julius home and treated his wound. It wasn’t serious, and Julius realized how lucky he was to be alive.
A Different Kind of Friend
That evening Alex, a friend of Julius, visited him. Alex had heard about the shooting and knew that Julius needed to change his life. Alex invited Julius to go to church with him. Julius reluctantly agreed, but added, “I don’t want to hear anything about God.”
Alex was different from most of the boys Julius knew. When Julius and his friends teased him about being a Christian, Alex didn’t become angry. In fact, he wanted to be Julius’s friend.
That night following the shooting, Julius had a dream. In it he saw a man who looked like Jesus sitting on a throne and judging people. Julius watched as Jesus sent people to heaven or hell, and he wondered where Jesus would send him. But when Jesus looked at Julius, He said nothing. He just stood and left the room, leaving Julius standing alone.
Julius awoke with a start, sure that God was speaking to him through the dream. But he wasn’t sure what to do about it.
Struggle for Allegiance
The next morning one of Julius’s friends came to see him. He offered Julius some marijuana, and soon both boys were high on drugs. Julius forgot about his dream.
But that night he had another dream. This time three angels carrying black books came to talk to him about Jesus and heaven. This time when Julius woke up he knew that God was calling him. He dressed and went to his friends and told them, “I’m giving my life to Jesus. I’m not going to smoke or drink anymore.”
His friends didn’t believe him and made fun of him, but Julius was determined to change. He thought of his dead friend and of Alex, who had invited him to go to church on Wednesday for Bible study. Julius left his friends and got ready to go to church.
As he entered the church that evening, Julius found several groups of people studying the Bible together. He sat near one of the teachers and listened to things he had never heard before. He sensed that this was the church that taught the truth. He told Alex that he wanted to attend church on Sabbath.
At Sabbath School and worship service that Sabbath Julius realized how much he had to learn. He asked his friend how he could become a Seventh-day Adventist Christian. Alex introduced him to the pastor, and Julius joined the baptismal class. Alex also invited Julius to study the Bible with him. The two went to a quiet place outside of town to study. His friends saw him and invited him to drink beer and smoke marijuana with them, but he refused. “I can’t go back to that,” he told them. They laughed and left him alone with Alex.
Struggle and Victory
Julius quickly discovered that it wasn’t easy to quit using drugs and alcohol. He struggled with his cravings, but Alex stayed with him, studying the Bible and praying for victory for Julius. “Alex helped me focus on God, not on drugs and drink,” Julius said. “And God delivered me.” Once Julius gained the victory over his addictions, he was ready to be baptized.
Just as God used Alex to lead Julius to Jesus, Julius now shares his faith with his friends. Although some still make fun of him, two of his friends have been baptized. “That’s what mission is about,” Julius says with a smile.
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