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Ezequiel Perez Gongora, now 34, was told by the Adventist doctor: “I have to warn you. Only a miracle can save you.” (Andrew McChesney / Adventist Mission)

A Second Chance

My wife was baptized after attending an evangelistic series, but I refused to get baptized. Twice.

To Sabbath School teachers: This story is for Sabbath, Feb. 24. Click here for photos to share while telling the mission story.

By Ezequiel Perez Gongora, as told to Andrew McChesney, Adventist Mission

[Ask a man to read this first-person testimony.]

I started to drink after getting married at the age of 20, and then I started to smoke. Soon I was an alcoholic and a chain smoker. I loved going to parties.

My wife was baptized after attending an evangelistic series by a pastor named Richard Perez at a Seventh-day Adventist church near my home in the Mexican state of Tabasco. But I refused to get baptized. Twice.

My lifestyle took a toll on my body after 13 years, and my back began to ache badly. I went to the local medical services, and they gave me medicine that didn’t help. The next day, I went to the Southeast Adventist Hospital. Doctors ran a battery of X-rays, blood tests, and other exams, but they couldn’t find anything wrong.

My back pain worsened, and I developed a high temperature.

On the fourth day in bed, the hospital chaplain came to see me. It was pastor Richard Perez. He recognized me immediately and greeted me by name.

“This is the time that you need God,” he told me.

He took his guitar and sang two songs. After that, he read the Bible to me. At that moment, I realized that God truly loved me.

Before leaving, the pastor asked the nurses to worship with me on Sabbath, which they did.

I felt terrible. The pain was intense, and my temperature remained high.

On the seventh day, the doctor came into my room with a worried expression on his face. He told me that we needed to have a private talk, so I asked my wife to leave the room.

“You have all the symptoms of AIDS,” the doctor said. “Just to confirm this, I’m going to take a test.”

After the test, the doctor left and my wife returned. She asked what was going on. I couldn’t answer her. I wasn’t sure myself. I knew that I had lived badly, and maybe this was the reason for my illness.

Then I remembered the words of the pastor. He had said, “This is the time that you need God.”

I asked my wife to step out of the room because I wanted to pray. I prayed and cried. I asked God for another chance, and I asked Him to help me not have AIDS.

After a while, the doctor returned to the room.

“I have good news and bad news,” he said. “The good news is you don’t have AIDS. The bad news is I don’t know what you have.”

I knew that God had answered my prayer because my test results were negative.

Another test showed that I had pleural effusion, a build-up of fluid between the tissues that line the lungs and the chest. The doctor inserted tubes to drain the fluid and said I might be able go home in five days.

But I felt as bad as before after five days, and a subsequent test found a tumor.

“I have to warn you,” the doctor said. “Only a miracle can save you.”

An emergency surgery was scheduled for the next day. I prayed again. I pleaded with God to give me a chance to redeem my wasted life.

On the day of the operation, I was left in the operating room as the anesthetic set in. I prayed, “If you let me live, I will get baptized and give my life to You.”

The surgery lasted six hours. When I woke up, I was back in my room.My wife and daughters were waiting to talk to me. I was convinced that God had given me another chance.

After 21 days, I finally left the hospital. Three weeks after that, the church held another evangelistic series, and I was baptized. Now I work as a custodian and serve as the head deacon at the church.

Praise God for second chances! I will serve Him for the rest of my life.

Part of this quarter’s Thirteenth Sabbath Offering will help the Southeast Adventist Hospital in Villahermosa, Mexico, expand with a building that will offer new health services to the community. Thank you for your mission offering.

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