“You become a Christian?” my family laughed. “That’s impossible!”
My little brother Leo was only 12 years old when he drowned. I loved him so much; I felt lost without him. I started drinking and doing drugs to kill the pain.
I wasn’t a Christian when Leo died, but he and my elder brother Rene had been studying the Bible with a man from the Adventist church. Both brothers were planning to be baptized soon.
Leo’s funeral was a heartbreaking experience for me, but there was one bright spot. The entire Adventist church came to help us celebrate his life and say our good-byes. They brought a big tent, chairs, and food and sang songs to comfort our family. We were very touched by their support.
My Terrible Accident
Rene was baptized shortly after Leo’s funeral. He never said anything to me about my behavior; he just quietly lived his faith. I slipped ever deeper into substance abuse and depression.
One night I went to a club with my friend Rachidy. We got drunk and had an accident on the way home. I don’t remember much about the experience except looking at the car and wondering how we survived.
A few weeks later Rachidy and I were talking about our crash. “My grandfather says I’m alive because of you,” he said.
“Alive because of me?” I asked incredulously. “How do you figure that? I almost killed you!”
“My grandpa believes in spirits who have great powers,” Rachidy replied. He thinks one of them didn’t want you to die.”
Rachidy and I sat in silence as I contemplated his words. “I have to go,” I said finally. “There’s something I need to do.” When I got home, I read my Bible for the first time in months, its words pouring light into the depths of my despair. “Lord, You saved my life,” I prayed. “I want to give You my heart just like Leo did.”
Over the next few months, I spent time with God daily. As I read my Bible and books by Ellen White, my heart was drawn to the Sabbath, and I decided to become a Seventh-day Adventist.
“I Want to Be Baptized”
I went to church the next Sabbath and wasted no time in making my intention known to the greeter. “I want to be baptized,” I said as he shook my hand. He looked at me quizzically and asked me to wait while he got an elder.
In a couple of minutes, an elderly gentleman appeared. “I understand that you want to be baptized,” he said.
“Yes, sir, I do.”
“Getting baptized is a wonderful thing, but I think you should understand what Seventh-day Adventists believe first. We’re having a series of meetings starting tomorrow. Why don’t you come?”
I attended the meetings every night, and when they were finished, I announced to my family that I would be baptized that coming Sabbath. I hadn’t told them about my recent conversion, and, understandably, they didn’t believe me. “You become a Christian?” they laughed. “That’s impossible!”
On Sabbath morning, the pastor asked those who were going to be baptized to stand so that the church members could welcome us. When I rose to my feet, I was surprised and happy to see my family.
“Rene knew you were telling the truth,” Mom told me later. “He knew it was possible for you to become a Christian because he’s never stopped praying for you.”
Back to School
When I was drinking, I’d made many bad choices, including dropping out of school. I wanted to get a job now to help support my family, but no one wanted to hire someone who hadn’t finished their education.
One Sabbath at church I bowed my head and prayed. “Lord, I know I’ve made mistakes. I’m not asking You for much, just a job that will help me earn my daily bread.”
That evening one of our church members offered me a job at his restaurant. I worked hard, and eventually I had enough money to go back to school.
When I finished my studies, I found a great job. It seemed that, finally, everything was going well. My parents were taking Bible studies to join the Adventist Church, and I was making good money. Then, suddenly, my father died, and I discovered that in order to keep my job, I’d have to do things God forbids.
To be continued.