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Adventist Mission

Gilson Neto, 29

Trouble With Pork

My mother was angry that I became an Adventist and cooked food that I couldn’t eat.

To Sabbath School teachers: This story is for Sabbath, March 9.

By Gilson Neto, as told to Andrew McChesney, Adventist Mission

[Ask a male teenager to share this first-person account.]

Aneighbor told me about the Seventh-day Adventist Church when I was 17. I wasn’t interested because I loved to eat pork and Adventists don’t eat pork.

Then someone invited me to attend an evangelistic series on the other side of São Tomé, capital of the island nation of São Tomé and Príncipe. I went to every meeting and wrote down my name to receive more information.

Before I knew it, my neighbor told me that his church had received my name and invited me to go with him to church on Sabbath for more information. I was shocked and asked him, “How did my name get to your church when I wrote it on a piece of paper across town?”

I didn’t go to church with him because I had to work on Saturdays. I was a construction worker.

When my neighbor saw that I wasn’t coming to church, he suggested that we study the Bible together in the evenings instead. After several weeks, I decided to skip a day of work to go to church.

At the church, I met many of my neighbors, and they were thrilled to see me.

But this created a problem for me. I couldn’t take another day off work on Sabbath. But all my neighbors had seen me at church and would ask me where I was going if they saw me headed to work on Sabbath.

The next Sabbath, I took a long, roundabout route to work so no one would see me. But I still ran into a church member, and he asked where I was going.

“To cut my hair,” I lied.

My conscience troubled me all day. After work, I took the long way home again and met more church members, who were returning home from church. “Why didn’t you go to church today?” they asked.

I admitted that I had gone to work.

From that day, I decided to stop working on Saturdays. Soon I lost my job.

No one in my family was Adventist, and my parents were angry that I was no longer working. My mother cooked food that I couldn’t eat. She added pork to everything: rice, soup, and side dishes. I still loved pork, but I refused to eat it. Many times, I went to bed hungry.

“Why are you going to this church that doesn’t eat pork?” my mother said.

“Why don’t you work on Saturday?” my father said.

My seven brothers watched my predicament silently.

Nine months later, I was baptized.

The pastor gave a welcome sermon to new church members, and one woman declared that we would immediately face spiritual challenges because of our decision. I said, “That can’t be. I already have many challenges.”

But she spoke the truth. When I told my parents that I had gotten baptized, they kicked me out of the home. I wept because I didn’t know where to go. For two months, I left the house before my parents woke up and returned after they were asleep.

A woman who was baptized on the same day as me gave me food to eat. I walked around during the day. There was nothing to do, and I had no job. I cried and prayed, “God, help me to become stronger in my faith and to find a job.”

After a while, a Taiwanese agricultural company hired me to assist with a project, and I was able to give some of my salary to my parents. That helped restore our relationship.

Then God worked a huge miracle. Five of my seven brothers became Adventists. Then two cousins were baptized. In all, 10 family members have joined the church. My father even attended a few times before he was paralyzed by a stroke.

Today, I work for the only Adventist school in São Tomé. I teach children how to do gardening and grow vegetables.

I’m also married. I fell in love with the younger sister of the woman who gave me food during my darkest period. We have a one-year-old daughter.

A Bible promise that inspires me to remain faithful is Psalms 125:1, which says, “Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but abides forever” (NKJV).

The person who trusts in God will be like Mount Zion and abide forever.

Part of this quarter’s Thirteenth Sabbath Offering will help the only Seventh-day Adventist school on São Tomé and Príncipe construct an auditorium. Thank you for your mission offering.

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