“I didn’t understand the dreams, but it seemed that God was revealing something to me.”
To Sabbath School teachers: This story is for Sabbath, Feb. 9.
Antonio’s life was a mess.
In a short period of time, he married his first-ever girlfriend, had an affair with another woman, and lost his job as a customs police officer in São Tomé, capital of the island nation of São Tomé and Príncipe off the West African coast.
A year passed, and he landed a job at a brewery. He tried to make up with his wife, but she refused, and they got divorced.
Then his father died.
Antonio began to drink heavily.
He moved in with another woman, Alcina, and they had two boys and a girl.
“Life was complicated,” he said. “I drank a lot, and there wasn’t enough money for my family.”
Making life even more complicated, Antonio started to have dreams—strange dreams that he didn’t understand. In São Tomé, people pay close attention to dreams. A dream about a flood is believed to mean that trouble is looming. A dream with the local safou fruit means a family member will die.
Antonio didn’t dream about floods or fruit. Instead, he had a dream in which he was carrying a backpack on his shoulders and standing before two sets of stairs. One set of stairs was wide, and the other was narrow. He discovered that he could climb the wide stairs with the backpack, but he couldn’t get up the narrow stairs.
Then he had another dream. In this dream, he was walking toward a door when suddenly a woman blocked his path with a large rock. Antonio couldn’t push aside the rock, but he found a narrow opening that he could squeeze through. Entering the opening, he saw a cave with a pool of water. Someone stood there, pointing at the water.
Antonio woke up baffled after each dream.
He didn’t understand the dreams, but it seemed to him that God was revealing something.
One day, Antonio was working at the home of his boss, the brewery owner, and a neighbor invited him to attend an evangelistic meeting at the local Seventh-day Adventist church. Antonio accepted.
That evening, he was shocked to hear the pastor read Matthew 7:13, 14, where Jesus said, “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it” (NKJV).
Antonio returned the next evening to hear more.
“As I kept going to the meetings, I realized that I needed to remove everything to get through the narrow opening in the stone. I needed to remove everything in my life to take the narrow stairs,” he said.
He understood that the backpack represented the burdens weighing him down in life, and the pool of water symbolized baptism.
“To get baptized, I needed to remove everything in my life that I was a slave to,” he said.
After Bible studies, Antonio and his wife were baptized—and officially married.
Today, Antonio is 45 and works as a cashier at a small wood-working business. He also is a deacon at the church where he attended the evangelistic meetings.
Life is no longer complicated for him.
“I am happy, and I thank God for every-thing that He has given to us,” he said.
Part of this quarter’s Thirteenth Sabbath Offering will help build a drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility—a “center of influence”—in São Tomé to help people like Antonio quit drinking. Thank you for your mission offering.