Joyce looked up slowly, her pretty face streaked with tears. I had called her into my office to ask why she thought she was failing so many classes.
“I have a baby,” the 16-year-old girl replied after a long silence. “He cries all night, and I have no time to study.”
My heart melted in understanding. “Do you know of anyone who could assist you with the child?”
“Just my mom, Teacher,” Joyce replied, “but she refuses to help me. She says that since I decided to have a baby, I can take care of it on my own. I’m in this alone.”
I bent down and took Joyce’s hand in mine. “No, you aren’t alone, Joyce,” I assured her. “I’m here, and I’ll do what I can to help you. I know you don’t believe in Jesus, but I believe He loves you and your baby. He can help you face your life and do what it takes to make it better. Do you want to give Him that opportunity?”
A New Beginning
Joyce nodded and started a journey that day that would turn her life around. She studied the Bible with our chaplain and met with me often to learn how to provide good care for her baby. Through my mentoring and friendship, she began to feel less stressed, but I knew she was still very sad about the rift between her and her mom.
After much prayer, I decided to visit Joyce’s mother. She received me cordially but was adamant that she was doing the right thing with her daughter. We chatted for a few minutes and then just before I left, I asked whether I could share something with her. She nodded.
“My mother had a baby before she was married,” I said. “It was very difficult for her, but it wasn’t the end of her life. She eventually married and had more children. Your daughter made a mistake, but she’s sorry. She’s doing everything she can to ensure that her life and the life of her son are rich and rewarding. But she needs you. They both do.”
It took time, but eventually Joyce’s mother and I became friends, and she found someone to help watch her grandson so that her daughter could succeed in school.
One day Joyce told me that she had a surprise for me. “I’ve given my heart to Jesus, and I want to be baptized!” she said eagerly. My heart sang. I was so happy for her and grateful that God had given me the privilege of helping a hurting child experience hope and happiness again.
A Changed Life
Our Adventist secondary school in Gabon is a real mission school. Most of our students are non-Adventists, and we have many non-Christian children who struggle with addictions.
One such student whom we had the privilege of helping is Corneille who struggled with alcohol and drugs. He was a difficult, disrespectful student. He was disruptive in class and was frequently called to the principal’s office for discipline. I prayed for patience and love for Corneille every day while he continued to act silly in class and refused to learn.
Our chaplain began studying the Bible with Corneille and entrusting him with responsibility at school. He made Corneille the student leader in class and an assistant to the teachers. He and the chaplain prayed together every morning before the school day started.
Gradually, Corneille began to change. Now he listens intently in class, gathers his friends together to talk with community people about Jesus, and shares with his classmates why it’s so wonderful to be a Christian. He’s one of the best evangelists in the area!
One day, I asked my students whether they believed that a person could change his behavior. One girl eagerly raised her hand. “Yes!” she said excitedly. “Because of Corneille.”
Our mission at our Seventh-day Adventist secondary school is to help children know Jesus and enable them to become His disciples. By God’s grace, we’ve been able to help many students, but with only one secondary school in the country, our impact is very limited.
The Thirteenth Sabbath Offering this quarter will help build another secondary school in Gabon so that we can reach many more children for Christ. Please give generously and pray that God will richly bless our mission work in Gabon.