Challenging the Sabbath
To Sabbath School teachers: This story is for Sabbath, Feb. 15.
German IT specialist Vincenzo Gallina couldn’t comprehend what was happening.
One global crisis seemed to be followed by another — 9/11, European financial turmoil, Crimea, and a migrant crisis.
Something was wrong. Vincenzo wondered whether the world was ending. He struggled to understand politicians’ seemingly illogical decisions. He looked for answers on YouTube. He returned to the church of his childhood.
Vincenzo didn’t attend only the usual Sunday worship services. He also went to services on Saturdays and Wednesdays. Church leaders were so impressed with the his interest in religion that they tried to convince him to become a priest. Vincenzo declined. He only wanted answers to global events and to live a holy life.
As he searched, he embraced three important principles in his heart: to follow the truth no matter where it led; to be honest with others and especially to himself; and to act the way that he spoke.
Reading the Bible, he became frustrated. He didn’t understand what he read.
One night, he prayed desperately for God to send someone to explain the Bible.
“God forgive me for I am too stupid to understand Your Word,” he prayed.
The next time he browsed YouTube, he stumbled across a sermon by a Seventh-day Adventist evangelist. Something clicked in his mind as he listened. He liked that the evangelist used the Bible to back up everything that he said.
Soon he was watching five YouTube sermons a day, his mind like a dry sponge, absorbing new knowledge.
Convinced that the seventh day is the biblical Sabbath, he began to attend an Adventist church in his hometown, Cologne, on Saturdays. He wanted to worship the Creator God. He wanted to prove the devil wrong in saying that it is impossible to keep God’s commandments. He wanted to be honest and to follow the truth wherever it led.
Because he was still living with his parents, he found it difficult to live a holy life. His parents did not pray before meals, and he heard the television playing on Sabbath. Doubts crept into his mind about the importance of keeping the Sabbath. He pondered Jesus’ words in Matthew 2:27, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.” He remembered Paul saying, “You are not under the law but under grace” in Romans 6:14. He stopped keeping the Sabbath.
One Friday evening after sunset, Vincenzo was working on his computer when he sensed a voice say, “You know, you are not keeping one of My commandments.”
Vincenzo remembered his principle about being honest to others and himself.
“Yes, I am not keeping the Sabbath,” Vincenzo said. “But is it really that important?”
He returned to his work.
“You know, you are not keeping the law,” the voice said. “What you are doing is not right.”
“But is it really so important to keep this day?” Vincenzo said, picking up his dark-green Bible from the table. “Didn’t Jesus say that man is made for the Sabbath? Aren’t we no longer under the law?”
The voice wouldn’t stop.
Finally, Vincenzo prayed for guidance. He knelt and, with the Bible in his hand, asked God for a clear answer.
“Do You want me to keep the Sabbath?” he prayed. “Is this day important to You? I need help in making this decision.”
He thought that he needed to create an opportunity for God to answer. Looking down at the Bible in his hand, he decided to open it at random and accept whatever answer God gave. Vincenzo closed his eyes and opened the Bible. Looking into the Bible, he read Isaiah 58:13, 14, which says, “If you turn away your foot from the Sabbath, from doing your pleasure on My holy day, and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy day of the Lord honorable, and shall honor Him, not doing your own ways, nor finding your own pleasure, nor speaking your own words, then you shall delight yourself in the Lord.”
Vincenzo started to cry. He could not work after receiving an answer like that. He turned off the computer and opened the Bible.
Since then, Vincenzo has had no doubt about keeping the Sabbath. He returned to church on Sabbath morning and, now 29, has kept going ever since.
Part of this quarter’s Thirteenth Sabbath Offering will help renovate the main building at Marienhöhe Academy in Darmstadt, Germany. Thank you for planning a generous offering.